Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 12, No.1, 2013

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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
  Contributing Editors
David Solway
Louis René Beres
Nancy Snipper
Farzana Hassan
Daniel Charchuk
Samuel Burd
Andrée Lafontaine
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Serge Gamache Emanuel Pordes
Diane Gordon
  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
Terez Montcalm
Cyrus Chestnut
Tord Gustavsen
Sarah MK
Julie Lamontagne
Vincent Gagnon
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

from Montreal




© Chantal Levesque

For the 13th edition of Jazz En Rafale, the weather gods were downright mean this year, punishing the city with Arctic temperatures for the entire festival, and then, for good measure, dumping 40 centimeters of snow into the mix. The cold might have impacted negatively on attendance but it did not dampen the spirit and enthusiasm of the intrepid for whom the city’s first major music happening is a must.

Last year, the emphasis was on the bass; this year the lead instrument was percussion as revealed by an all-star cast of percussionists from around the world.

Jean Pierre-Zanella’s Project Québec-Brésil jump started the festival thanks in large part to the multi-faceted percussion work of Maguinho Alcantara and © Chantal LevesqueRonaldo Silva, who, at the invitation of the Brazilian Consulate, were flown into Montreal for a meeting of the spirits. The set included several Brazil-influenced originals by Zanella, and a memorably brilliant, haunting version of “Águas de Março” (Waters of March ), that was not helped by pianist Rafael Zaldivar’s minimalist intervention. He began his solo repeating the same chord 22 consecutive times, effectively assuming the role of lobotomizer-in-chief (a pounding from which my IQ still hasn’t recovered). As if in answer to Zaldivar’s preternaturally constricted focus, the set produced one of the festival highlights in the person of Remi-Jean Leblanc, whose absolutely gorgeous, tender and extended bass intro to “Bossashana” could not be improved on.

When we think of Brian Blade, one word comes to mind: incomparable. I’m normally leery (the gentille word) of percussion solos and percussion in general, in large part because percussionists tend to upstage (ignore the volume controls) the concept they have been asked to serve.

© Chantal Levesque

But so vibrant, inventive and madly inspired was Blade’s conceptual percussion accompaniment -- at moments as lyrical as pure song -- I had trouble concentrating on the other Fellowship Band musicians, in particular, the superb bass work of Chris Thomas. In typical Fellowship fashion, the music eschewed the affected commotion produced by intellect-generated, convoluted time signatures that have become de rigueur, and instead allowed the heart and soul their natural voice in music that at times drew upon gospel in order to evoke transcendence.

In another top-notch concert that revealed the melodic possibilities of percussion, kudos must go to New York’s Ari Hoenig, whose vast repertoire of sounds consists of off-the-clock time-keeping, heavy metal licks and crashes and the silence of deep space.

© Chantal LevesqueAmong the many discoveries in this year’s Rafale was the Pascal Schumacher Quartet. In the hammer and manner of drum sticks, Schumacher’s wonderfully wielded mallets produced waves of sounds and textures that easily accomodated expert improvisation thanks to the sum of musical skills brought to a refreshingly original set of new compositions by classically trained musicians. I fully expect the Quartet’s North American debut to be the first of many encores.

For those for whom conventional melody and harmony are anathema, the TrioTanguay Bourassa Derome delivered a wonderfully dissonant, dystopic playlist replete with herniated time signatures, whip-lashed modulations and entropic theme and variations. Speaking with a transfigured heavy metalist just after the concert, the young woman confessed that she had never been able to get into jazz until now. So in the all important building bridges category, the Trio Tanguay delivered in spades. Second only to Brian Blade, Pierre Tanguy's understated percussion work and matching the music to the apposite drum was a festival delight and learning experience.

© Chantal Levesque

If only for this reviewer, one of the great pleasures of Jazz en Rafale is its New Talent Contest. I’ve said it before and it bears repetition, listening to tomorrow’s already arrived up and coming new musicians is a reminder that the future of jazz is in very capable hands. This year’s not unworthy but odd choice of winner was the Robert Flood Sextet: they don’t play jazz and they don’t have a percussionist, which, in the context of a percussion oriented jazz festival, is at the very least thought provoking. But the winner wins a contract with the Effendi label, which up to now hasn't paid sufficient heed to diversification: the Sextet will enhance the generic Effendi sound with its complex arrangements, emphasis on composition and striking harmonies. Last year’s winner, the Beck Noble Sextet, proved they were more than worthy of the honour. Their festival launched CD Salish Folk Song featured strong and memorable melody lines throughout, creative time signatures and keen guitar work from Nick Di Giovanni.

Cold weather be damned, Jazz en Rafale once again warmed the heart and readied the ear for another season in jazz.

Since a photograph is worth a 1000 notes, I can’t think of a more app denouement than photographer Chantal Levesque’s “Take Five.”

© Chantal Levesque

© Chantal Levesque

© Chantal Levesque

© Chantal Levesque

Photos © Chantal Levesque

1. Ari Hoenig
2. Ronaldo Silva
3. Brian Blade
4. Pascal Schumacher
5. Pierre Tanguay
6.Jean-Pierre Zanella
7. John Roney & Fred Alari
8. Fred Alari
9. Ronaldo Silva
10. Anne Paceo


John Coltrane
Miles Davis
Thelonius Monk
Charlie Mingus
Oscar Peterson
Charlie Parker
Dizzy Gillespie
Wes Montgomery
Ornette Coleman
Louis Armstrong
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