Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 9, No. 2, 2010

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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
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Bernard Dubé
David Solway
Robert Rotondo
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
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Emanuel Pordes
Diane Gordon
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
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Tommy Emmanuel
John Stetch
Susie Arioli
Coral Egan
Diana Krall
Stacey Kent
Carol Welsman
Aldo Romano
Denzal Sinclaire
Madeleine Peyroux
Bireli Lagrene
Sonido Isleño
Provost & Lachapelle
Kevin Breit
Sophie Milman
Annie Poulain
Badi Assad
Donato & Bouchard
Ingrid Jensen
John Roney
Russell Malone
David Binney
Kurt Rosenwinkel
Mimi Fox
Voo Doo Scat
Coral Egan
Martin Taylor
Jordan Officer
Melody Gardot
Jean Vanasse
Yves Léveillé
Sylvain Provost
Louciana Souza
Patricia Barber
Jill Barber
2010 Montreal Guitar Show (Sylvan Luc)
2008 Jazz en Rafale Festival (Montreal) - Mar. 27th - April 5th -- Tél. 514-490-9613 ext-101 (featuring David Binney)
Montreal Jazz Festival 2010







Piano Keyboard


by Robert J. Lewis

Featured artist: CORINNE BAILEY RAE

© Denis Beaumont


She’s a near wisp of a thing on stage (I felt like tossing her a food ration), but her presence is large and luminous.

Corinne Bailey Rae, the pride of Leeds, was last in Montreal for the 2006 Montreal Jazz Festival. Since then, she’s had to suffer through the tragic death of her husband in 2008 -- saxophonist Jason Rae -- and has only recently willed herself back into the current of life by doing what she does best: writing and performing music.

Courtesy of Evenko (formerly Gillett Entertainment Group), Corinne Bailey Rae played to a standing room only crowd at Club Soda last night (April 28th) in a memorably affecting concert that featured music from her latest CD, The Sea.

© Denis BeaumontThe first and most lasting effect of Bailey Rae’s radiantly smallish but cozy and deceptively strong voice is to make you wish you could get close to her -- and not because of her growing star power and darling looks, but because her music engages those very special, intimate feelings that engender relationships. This outcome results from the joy and deep commitment she brings to the musical spaces she creates and wholly and happily inhabits.

Her music marks out a realm that listeners gravitate to on wings of songs that reveal the indivisibility of the person and her music. The distinct voice can suddenly modulate, like legs turning rubbery, from strong and clear to a quaver, or confidently bottom-feed from an abyss in order to find out how high is the moon. It’s as if her musical ideas are summoned with the express purpose of challenging them, the means and method of which become synonymous with style, which in composition is that unique musical interval that reveals the particularities of the artist in his or her dealings with life. Her expression (emoting), in its range and transparency, and wonderfully served by highly original phrasing, is unusual for someone just turned 31, the fact of which speaks to the constancy of her being her own person when the marketing powers that be would have it otherwise.

Last night’s concert confirms that Corinne Bailey Rae is at her best staying within herself, and as such, she stands out like a fresh bloom in a wilderness of glitter and pretension. In her easy manner and undertones, she is all rhapsody in blue. Everything about her is anti-diva. On stage, she appeared in a simple jumpsuit that she might wear again and again (check out her videos) because she likes it and feels right in it. In another venue, she'll don an outfit one might wear to a family dinner that includes the grandparents. She doesn’t bump or grind or flash midriff or play to the camera, and has no truck with the protocols of video culture whose role models are dolled-up, hyper-sexed, ovulating super women.

No surprise that Bailey Rae refuses the monotonality (Rap, Hip-Hop) that has captured the hearts and minds of especially younger audiences for whom music that modulates is uncool. Her soulful compositions are often jazz inflected and deliciously unstable: the changes seem to come out of nowhere, and her powers of invention are formidable. She has already impressed Stevie Wonder, which means she can write – and supply heart-stopping melodies that are in chronic short supply.

Her latest CD, The Sea, contains her best, most consistent writing to date, most notably the slow stuff, the ballads such as “Love’s On Its Way,” “I Would Like To Call It Beauty” and “Diving For Hearts.” The music, forged in the crucible of necessity, offers Alt worlds to the real world that, for too many, no longer feels like home -- and the adoring audience surrendered to it like a dry season to a long awaited rain. Bailey Rae wants to be somewhere else and the effort required of songwriting is how she gets there. Does she possess the auditorium-friendly, octave-bending voice of a Mariah Carey or Céline Dion? Even better, she has her own voice, just as Sting and Norah Jones have theirs.

My two reservations about the CD -- and not the concert -- concern the production values. The bass is sometimes too heavy and thick, overwhelming what is delicately wrought in the music, and on several of the tracks the ambient studio sound is a bit too slick. That said, Corinne Bailey Rae is the real deal, about whom much more will be written and spoken while she quietly goes about her day making beautiful music – for the rock of ages?

It’s reported that Bailey Rae simply loves her latest band. Based on the CD, I’m not sure if this is a good thing, mind you I’ve no quarrel with last night’s dreadlock-tight rhythm section and superlative, 4-part, back up vocals.

Photos © Denis Beaumont




John Coltrane
Miles Davis
Thelonius Monk
Charlie Mingus
Oscar Peterson
Charlie Parker
Dizzy Gillespie
Wes Montgomery
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