Man in black

Erik Truffaz returns to the Montreal Jazz Festival 15 years after his first time in the Quebecois city, accompanied by his quartet (Marcello Giuliani on the bass, Benoit Corboz on piano and Arthur Hnatek on drums, who takes the place of the historic drummer of the ensemble, Marc Erbetta). The Salle Ludger-Duvernay, at the Monument National, is the chosen spot for the presentation of this French quartet’s last album, Doni Doni, which features new influences coming from their collaboration project with the South-African dancing company Vuyani and two voices: Rokia Traoré and Oxmo Puccino.

 

Man in black. White hair. Hat.

Old noise, echoes, floating sounds. Psychedelic playing.

Spirals, loops, never-ending stories.

Puts a hand on his forehead, tries to see beyond the spotlight.

A hint of a smile.

The trumpet does not shine. His eyes do.

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To tell a story

Marcus Miller’s career keeps growing. After years of studio playing in New York, this American bassist and clarinettist hit the road 15 years ago, and has been conquering stages all over the world ever since. For the 37th edition of the Montreal Jazz Festival, he appeared again on the Theatre Maisonneuve last Wednesday, 6th of July. Accompanied by Brett Williams in charge of the keyboards, Alex Bailey holding the drumsticks, Alex Han blowing the saxophone and Russell Gunn making the trumpet scream, Miller presents his last work, Afrodeezia, a pan-history of black culture featuring collaborations from musicians all along the slavery route through the Atlantic.

 

The beat is high. Fast. Powerful. Four musicians on stage and rays of light bouncing on the bodies of microphones, on the skin of the trumpet and the sax, on the shiny corners of the drums, on the keys of the two keyboards.

Strong nerves coming from the seating. The audience’s enthusiasm transformed into a wild applause and eventual shouts or whistles.

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The speech of the strings

The choice for the 7th night of the series Le Festival à la Maison Symphonique is a big one. The combination between Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro and Australian guitar master Tommy Emmanuel turns out to be the best bet to fill Montreal’s Maison Symphonique on the 5th of July’s warm night. The program is double, as each musician gets mostly a 90-minute set to play. As Per Tommy Emmanuel himself, he presents his latest album, It’s Never Too Late.

 

Long corridor. Little light. Grey carpet.

End of the road and a huge room appears. Covered in soft, light wood. A sea of seats. A big stage. A magnificently high ceiling, spots of white light splattering the whole auditorium.

And a huge organ upside down, dyed in blue as long rays of blue light illuminate the back of the scenario.

Murmurings, whispering, occasional shouting.

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Stories from beyond; or Tord Gustavsen’s new unconventional jazz

The touching combination between Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen, drummer Jarle Vespestad and German-Afgan singer Simin Tander landed in Montreal last Sunday the 3rd of July for the last concert of their USA and Canada Tour, within the context of the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal. The trio presented at the Salle Ludger-Duvernay their latest work and Gustavsen’s new proposal, album ‘What was said’, which features a whole new musical direction based on ancient Norwegian hymns and Sufi poems interpreted in a soft, mystical way. The result is, to Gustavsen, an innovative sound that still and very deeply connects with his past and childhood.

 His fingers slowly approach the keys. With the tip he caresses them, and produces a sound that materialises, floating, getting lost in the air due to its softness. The clicking of the cameras is annoying, disturbing, as the piano sounds magnificently low. Incredibly intangible. The sounds are clear, but small. Passionate, and still difficult.

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The most explosive mixture

Our Point Of View, better known as Blue Note 75 Band, were the chosen stars for the third concert of the series Les Grands Concerts of the Montreal Jazz Festival this year at the Théatre Maisonneuve, right in the middle of the Place des Arts, where everything is happening. A band made from the combination of some of the biggest names featured by the legendary record label from the United States Blue Note. Guitarist Lionel Loueke, pianist Robert Glasper, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, saxophonist Marcus Strickland, bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Kendrick Scott are the members of this all-star band, a dangerous project in terms of an ensemble that puts together big egos and big characters. The result, however, is that a project built to commemorate a 75 anniversary is still rolling two years later. And looks like it is going to be like this for a long time.

 

Choosing from the artists in one of the most famous jazz record labels in the world must be a hard job. But that is exactly what Blue Note did in 2014 when it decided to build a band in order to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the label. The choosing was hard, but the brand came up with a combination of big names that did, as well, know each other. Lionel Loueke, Robert Glasper, Ambrose Akinmusire, Marcus Strickland, Derrick Hodge and Kendrick Scott became the members of Our Point Of View, a name hard to buoy next to the powerful denomination of Blue Note 75 Band.

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