Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 10, No.5, 2011

  Current Issue  
  Back Issues  
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
Chantal Levesque 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
Marianne Trudel
Florence K
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: TEREZ MONTCALM

© Frédérique Ménard-Aubin

Sometimes (taking liberties withThus Spake Yogi Berra) it takes half a career to find ninety percent of your identity in the music you love and love to play, or, in the case of Quebec-born Terez Montcalm, the music you love to sing.

I’m not sure where this slim and vivacious mid-career vocalist has been (for sure to the dark side of the moon and back) other than to a tattoo parlour. For her ear-opening 2011 Montreal International Jazz Festival concert, she wore a leggy, black, sleeveless dress which threw into ink-dark relief a tattoo that overwhelmed the entire left side of her shoulder and upper arm, leaving some of us to wonder whether it was a recent acquisition or a relic from her chick years. But it didn’t take long for the distraction to pass and the audience to settle into and revel in -- what was probably for many -- a new discovery, as this talented singer poured the distillate of her life experience into a project dedicated to the music of Shirley Horn. By concert’s end, Terez Montcalm had announced in no uncertain terms that she is a jazz singer to be reckoned with, and that her long day’s journey has borne fruit -- despite a rather unexceptional first set.

Right from the get-go Montcalm's disarming stage presence revealed her earthiness and hard won priorities. Outrightly rejecting the glossy, self-conscious culture of diva choreography, she surrendered to the tug and pull of the moment and moved as the music moved her. Her mission was to introduce audiences to the style and song of Shirley Horn (1934-2005) and make us appreciate why Horn, who was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award in 2005 (the highest honor the United States bestows upon jazz musicians), ranks as one of the great musicians of her time.

Montcalm has a powerful, winsome, velvet-raspy voice that is equally at home in the soul and jazz genres. It’s made up of equal parts of battery acid and cat purr that can riptide the heart and soul out of almost anything she puts her mind to. That said, for the first few songs at her Club Soda concert, there were moments of imperfect control when backing away from full throttle. She accompanied herself on guitar and played well enough in the jazz idiom but her playing was near note-for-note the same as the group’s guitarist, Jean-Sébastien William. Given the redundancy, there’s no good reason for Montcalm to show that she knows her passing chords, which would facilitate giving her all to the music. I’ve always maintained that if consequent to playing an instrument the singer ends up sacrificing a mere two percent of the vocals, that small percentage is of critical importance, especially when taking on the American Songbook that has been done thousands of times by the very best.

Most aspiring jazz singers expose their shortcomings or lack of maturity when singing the ballads -- the acid test for any singer worth his or her brick in the wall. Half way through what would turn out to be an astounding second set, Terez Montcalm set aside her guitar and soared to the occasion of performing at the highest level one ballad after another, including “Here’s To Life,” “A Time for Love,” “You Won’t Forget Me” and the beautiful “One At a Time” by Michel Legrand, which concluded the concert. You can’t ask a singer to do more than autograph a standard such that when you go to hear it again, you want that particular version. We lean into the Terez Montcalm voice for its candour, depth and toughness that can turn soft like a sunrise, and for the way it wraps itself around words borne away on melodies stretched and floated or made to hesitate and falter. Terez Montcalm provided compelling reasons why we not only want to get to know Here’s To You - Songs For Shirley Horn more intimately, but the singer herself who shaped the music that properly belongs to her as much as her inspiration.

Terez Montcalm, the jazz singer, is a fait accompli, which situates her at the beginning of what should be a very fruitful second career that will take her to places she hasn’t yet been and to audiences that will gladly travel with her, in no small part because her bandmates include the empathetic Gil Goldstein on piano and the steady, understated presence of Steve Williams, who kept the beat for Shirley Horn for the better part of 27 years.

Terez Montcalm reprises her homage to Shirley Horn Oct. 22 at l’Astral (Montreal).

Photo © Frédérique Ménard-Aubin



John Coltrane
Miles Davis
Thelonius Monk
Charlie Mingus
Oscar Peterson
Charlie Parker
Dizzy Gillespie
Wes Montgomery
Valid HTML 4.01!
Privacy Statement Contact Info
Copyright 2002 Robert J. Lewis