of the on-going 2013 Montreal
International Jazz Festival, bassist Jean Félix
Mailloux and his long time trio Cordâme,
along with special guest pianist François Bourassa, harpist
Guillaume Bourque and percussionist Isaiah Ceccarelli, combined
the refinement and feel of chamber music and jazz, and thoroughly
delighted listeners in what deserved to be a better attended concert
one of Montreal’s premier music venues.
for whom the language of jazz is a tough nut to crack, it’s
always a plus to find a group -- a portal -- that, in the spirit
of dissolving borders, is able to introduce the necessary vocabulary
and network of links to make jazz more comprehensible. For rockers,
there are any number of jazz fusion groups to help facilitate
the transition, but for aficionados of classical music, the choices
are very limited which is why the original music of Jean Félix
Mailloux is not only meritorious on its own but it provides a
wonderful opportunity to get to know jazz more intimately without
having to sacrifice melody -- the ingredient lovers of classical
music are least willing to part with.
distinguishes the playlist of Mailloux, who writes all the music,
is its accessibility, owed to strong and extended melody lines
and the extraordinary clarity and separation of the instruments.
There were moments during the concert when the sheer beauty of
the music and its accessibility were one and the same -- a privileged
sphere orbiting around the listener's gratitude and delight.
a thoroughly enchanting island song that takes an congenially
dark turn, it behooved me to ascertain if the solo delivered by
violinist Marie Neige Lavigne was improvised or something she
might play note for note on successive evenings, such was the
strength of the melody, which was buoyed by a jazzed up bass line
and, courtesy of Isaiah Ceccarelli, brushy percussion effects
interspersed with timely rim shots.
always noted are those exceptional percussionists who make a point
of fitting into the group dynamic instead of overwhelming it.
Bourassa, one of Canada’s very best, who
can produce chords as thick and rapturous as Rachmaninoff and
is comfortable playing 12-tone, dramatically toned down his approach,
and, in the instructive spirit of Cordâme’s back to
basics, both in soloing and accompaniment, offered up a lyricism
that was at once hummable and inventive, where every note made
the case for its essential inclusion.
the course of a career, saying more with less is a discipline
and humility that must be learned and relearned and would be one
of the reasons that attracts Bourassa to the structure and method
of Mailloux and Cordâme.
latest album, Lieux imaginés (Imaginary Places),
is all about mood and far away places that fill in the spaces
and silences scored in the music. Whether it be a journey to the
Sahara ("Isis") or a lush-green tea plantation in the
Orient ("Route de la soie"), Mailloux’s sensitivity
to the feelings that cause the music from other cultures to come
into being is so persuasive you end up convinced that he has spent
a good portion of the four seasons there.
needs more cross over musicians like Jean Felix Mailloux, which
is why, in recognition of the importance of transitional music
unique contribution, the Montreal Jazz Festival programmers continue
to bring this quietly awesome trio back. In its own inimitable
stringed fashion, it makes the case that crossing over from classical
to jazz as natural as willing water into wine.
special guest pianist Jérôme Beaulieu, Mailloux and
his trio Bomata
will be performing for free at the 2013 Montreal
International Jazz Festival on July 6th, 9 pm,
at the CBC Radio-Canada stage.