Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 14, No.1, 2015

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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
Arioli & Officer
Jean Félix Mailloux
Vijay Iyer
Lionel Loueke
Tia Fuller
Cécile McLorin Salvant
Emma Frank
Shai Maestro
Christine Jensen
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: VINCENT REHEL


For the 35th edition of the 2014 Montreal International Jazz Festival, the Vincent Rehel concert was by far and away my first pick in the pleasant surprise category, in part because he was joined by the very gifted singer/guitarist Diane Tell.

From the very first piercing, aching organ notes that sounded like they had been subjected to unspeakable crimes and punishment, the Astral was transformed into a confessional and its captive audience brought to its knees by music that stuck to the skin like sap.

Imagine somewhere in the world there is a place deficient in gravity whose sole inhabitant can see the ground but cannot touch it. This is where Vincent Rehel was born and has spent his entire life trying shape (obliterate) his destiny, and attain to a place that is always just out of reach. Every composition, every solo is a variation on this epic struggle – man against his predicament, his predilections -- and no matter what he does, he is unable to escape who he is and life circumstances not of his choosing. His album, Images du Lendemain (Images of the Following Day) is a record, an archive, a bearing witness, a blood count of the energy and effort expended in refusing to abide by the imperatives of fate.

If a successful artist is one who is able to make his art equal to his demons and torment, Vincent Rehel has succeeded by any measure. The ground that eludes him is reconfigured as music that becomes the place he calls home, where home is safe harbour, hallowed ground, a domain reserved for those for whom the language of music knows no eclipse.

The sounds that issue from the instrument that is his heart vacillate from the ghostly to the macabre to the outright psychotic. His notes occupy space as if they have been scalded in steam, or spent the night staring at Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” The rendering is his self-portrait; the brutal chord sequences and runaway improvisations expansive to bursting one moment and paralyzing the next. We’re not sure if the composer is offering or begging for a blood transfusion. A Vincent Rehel away from his music for three days is a dangerous proposition for the world. We dare not ask what is turning on his spit because we know what turns in his mind is vividly, vitally, consummately conceived music that is out of this world in such a way that it brings us closer to it.

Vincent Rehel has listened to his Zappa (200 Motels) and has been brought to tears by Mahler’s adagios. From his 2013 CD, the tracks “La Chapelle” and “Images of Tomorrow” combine what is signature in the Rehel concept: jazz and chamber music mixed to unmask a composer whose relationship with the world is both a vendetta and a rite of sacrifice. In the middle sections of both tracks, Rehel’s organ and the bass and drum fall silent, leaving the sound to either a trio of orphan voices or the cello and violins, a single tragic timbre transmuted into liquid, a gigantic tear that has nowhere to go. As the sustained note writhes in anguish, Rehel listens, transfixed, immobilized, a corpse on a cross, head thrown back beseeching an invisible god to slit his jugular, not to bid adieu to ‘the beautiful life’ but because his muse feeds on blood.

For the last half of the concert, he was joined by one of Quebec’s most gifted artists, singer sans égal, guitarist par excellence à la Badi Assad ( a well kept secret) -- the incomparable Diane Tell. Her voice has never been richer (think Carmen McCrea) and now that she’s been there, seen it all, mostly in France, we salute Vincent Rehel for persuading her to return to Quebec and tell. Half way through her first song I thought to myself it’s time for Tell to put out a CD of standards in the language of her choosing.

Bravo to the festival programmers' daring for showcasing a music that falls outside every recognizable category, for whom jazz is just one of many points of departure, and always an occasion to exhibit portraits of the soul and solitudes of artists as Jung men.

Caveat CD emptor: Vincent Rehel is not to everyone’s taste. After the release of Images du Lendemain, he was disowned by his family, and I’ll be wearing a disguise until this review blows over. But for those for whom music magically, cathartically provides a sense of belonging, Rehel’s audaciously conceived, oxygen-rich alternative worlds world are proof that the best answer to pain is the act of creation, and that in the right hands music fulfils this function like no other art.

Reality is Rehel is for real.


from Vincent Rehel
I want to personally thank you for that good review of my show and my world. You totally have the good portrait of me of what I do: Bravo, that made my day.
I am now preparing a duo album piano and vocals, like modern "Lieder" -- very impressionnist style. It's going to come out this year, maybe in November. Thanks again for following. v.r.



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