its move from far away L’Espace Dell'Arte (Montreal North)
to the Astral,
Montreal’s newest and busiest music venue situated in the
heart of the city’s arts and entertainment district, Jazz
en Rafale is now -- and deservingly so -- in the big leagues.
The move to downtown opened up the event to tourists and walk-ins,
resulting in an 80% improvement over last year’s attendance.
in its 11th year, Jazz en Rafale, which opens Montreal's celebrated
music festival season, put on its best program yet, in no small
part due to the emergence of Maurin Auxéméry, Effendi’s
man for development.
the recording label that sponsors Jazz en Rafale,
is run by bassist Alain Bédard and singer-pianist Carole
Therrien, both of whom have their careers to manage, and are in
chronic short supply of the time it takes to manage Effendi and
produce a music festival. Enter Maurin Auxéméry:
charming, witty, soft-spoken, hard working, and now the organizing
principle (morceau rassembleur) that energizes the festival.
Prior to meeting Maurin, I was vehemently opposed to cloning.
Having met and spoken with him on numerous occasions, I have had
to reverse my position and insist that the Montreal jazz scene
is all the richer for having him in its midst.
year’s festival featured for the 5th year in a row the Jupiter-Vandoren
competition, dedicated to up and coming jazz musicians. The winner
(my last year’s pick) was Atomic
5; their atom splitting set confirmed that this group
has already arrived with its unique blend of musicianship and
concept-driven original material that reveals unexpected nuance
and craft. Last year’s winner, Rafael Zaldivar, was invited
to play and launch his debut album. With underwhelming technique,
he joins musicians like pianist Marianne Trudel, who are obliged
to make their mark with original material. Not yet 30, Zaldivar
is an emerging composer whose career will be best served by well-informed
a long apprenticeship, François
Bourassa left no doubt that, along with John Stetch,
he is one of Canada’s outstanding jazz pianists.
Partnering with pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, they supplied the most
creative and spontaneous concert of the festival. Bourassa's gifts
border on the exceptional: he brings to the 88 a tremendous ear,
a technique that Oliver Jones would approve of, and a creative
component that is producing a body of original material that is
sure to gain him an international following.
of the festival belonged to the amazing and extraordinarily gifted
Luc, who is simply one of the greatest (and most
generous) guitarists on the planet. He opened with original material
that came out of nowhere; not a straight chord or sequence of
notes to be heard, but the composing, however abstract, was never
compromised by the feeling and soul that prompted material that
reveals more with successive listenings. Like Paco de Lucia, Luc’s
leads engage all the fingers and feature invention that is nothing
less than startling. If he hasn’t received the recognition
Lagrène, it’s simply because life
isn’t fair. Sylvain Luc will be playing in Place des Arts'
5ème Salle at the 2010 Montreal Jazz Festival. Don’t
miss out on this rare treat.
en Rafale was so good this year, it would be even better if Maurin
and team would consider extending the event to include a third
weekend: nine instead of six evening's of music, or, citing the
Beatles -- eight days a week. Which is to say all is better than
well at Jazz en Rafale and with Montreal jazz in general.
FILED BY ROBERT LEWIS
PHOTOS © MARCEL DUBOIS