Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 10, No.3, 2011

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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
  Contributing Editors
David Solway
Nancy Snipper
Farzana Hassan
Samuel Burd
Andrée Lafontaine
Sylvain Richard
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Emanuel Pordes
Diane Gordon
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Denis Beaumont
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Jazz Contributors

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
Corrine Bailey Rae
Chet Doxas
François Bourassa
Sylvain Luc
Neil Cowley
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: MARIANNE TRUDEL

After repeating Metaphysics 101 for a second time, my professor took me aside and explained that since a good memory enables the student to retain all sorts of convenient facts, he will be severely tempted to circumvent the hard thinking required of philosophy and default to regurgitation. On the other hand, the student with a poor memory will be obliged to think through a problem until he understands it, the effort of which decisively favours the retention of what is required to communicate what has been learned.

By analogy, musician-composers blessed with great fluency and technique often default to what they already know instead working on and working out problems that result in truly original composition -- self-examination’s hard-earned reward.

As it concerns jazz -- with a nod to a modified Irwin Berlin lyric, “let’s face the music and advance,” – can we agree that solos, even the best ones, (thankfully) come and go whereas composition, like true love, “is here to stay?” Musicians harbouring complexes over technique shouldn’t fret since that lacking forces them to concentrate on the act of creation instead of regurgitation. Who in their right-brained mind wouldn’t rather be a better composer than musician?

For the past near decade, Montreal pianist Marianne Trudel has been composing music that has earned praise for its candour and integrity. From Espaces libres to her just released fourth CD, Espoir et autres pouvoirs, her music is energized by a persistent albeit ingratiating melancholy that will appeal to listeners who share her somewhat less than optimistic worldview. There is no mistaking the manner in which her moments musicaux, like a mist, come to inhabit an especially small venue. What is distinct in her writing is revealed in her deeply felt moods that oscillate between the lugubrious and transcendental. Whether as a soloist, or in duo with a chromatic harp (harmonica) player or assuming a more subdued role in a septet, her soul and story remain the same. Allowing her precious inner voice its formidable say, she lays bare her unedited transactions with the world out of which emerges a highly personal vision that targets audiences for whom ‘possible worlds’ are rendered temporarily real through music.

What sets apart much of her writing is her sensitivity to soundscapes that falls outside jazz. In her quest to find the self through music, she doesn’t hesitate to defer to another culture’s scale as the means to the end of revealing herself more fully. She is unapologetically attracted to the interval and acoustic space that distinguish Arabic music, resulting in haunting journeys (quests) that evoke the desolation of the desert as well as her own sense of ennui and not quite belonging. While much of her writing is architecturally flat, through evocative percussive effects and creative instrument pairings she enables the otherwise static harmonic to travel far and wide.

As an instrumentalist, she will never achieve the ease of a Bill Charlap or Brad Mehldau on the ivories, but she has the wisdom to stay within herself (the same could be said for Diana Krall) and makes a point of making every note count, adding yet another voice in the losing battle against the redundancy factor that continues to afflict jazz. How necessary is an active left hand in a solo if the combo includes a bass player?

Since Trudel doesn’t dazzle technically, her solos are refreshingly spare and occasional, and can be more or less repeated from one concert to the next, which puts them on the same page as composition – an achievement too often frowned upon by the wizards of improvisation. But lest we forget, Carlos Santana, for example, even though he’s not good enough for jazz, is one of the very few guitarists in the past 75 years whose solos have achieved the status of composition – the stuff of singing in the rain and humming in the shower. In a 100 years from now how many will know the name of Ed Bickert -- a very fine Toronto jazz guitarist bound for the glories of oblivion?

Trudel’s latest CD marks yet another advancement in her progress as a composer. Hearkening back to the early and experimental Pat Metheny (Still Life), she exploits the redoubtable voice of Anne Schaefer, manipulating it like an instrument which she combines with both piano and brass. As with the generic, gravelly flamenco voice, the Schaefer aesthetic is secondary to the mood or concept it is asked to serve.

What is to be admired and respected in Trudel, who is still young and learning, is her courage and constancy in confronting what is unresolved in her life which she then makes the issue of her writing. She’s not so much out to impress as share the fruits of her vital labours with sympathetic musicians and listeners for whom her music excites a need that would otherwise remain obscure. In her steadfast refusal to compromise what she wants to say, she has already identified one of the key components required of significant composition, which bodes well for future projects. That Montreal’s finest musicians and premier jazz label (Effendi Records) are eager to collaborate with her is an endorsement her writing and work ethic cannot refuse.

Marianne Trudel will be performing at the 2011 Montreal International Jazz Festival on June 30th, @L'Astral




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