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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 19, No. 2

OFF Festival de Jazz de Montréal: From Album to Concert

by Marc Chénard / October 1, 2013

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Now well established in its fall season niche, the OFF Festival de Jazz de Montréal returns this month for its 14th annual edition. All told twenty-seven shows are on tap from Thursday, October 3 to Sunday 12 (with a break on the 7th and 8th). Apart from the usual venues (Lion d’Or, Sala Rossa, Casa del Popolo and Upstairs), a new one is added this year–Café Résonance (5175-A, avenue du Parc, corner of Fairmount)–with a return to a past venue, the Cabaret du Mile-End, for the closing event. In keeping with its mandate to highlight the wealth of local music, the OFF Festival also offers our talented artists the opportunity to premiere music from their latest recordings. This year, no fewer than four discs will be launched during the festival. LSM reached the artists to gain a preview of their musical offerings.

Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra – Habitat (Justin Time Records)

In 2011, saxophonist and composer Christine Jensen presented her first orchestral album Treelines (on Justin Time). Buoyed by some rave reviews, including unanimous praise by four writers in the Downbeat hot box feature), former B.C. native and long standing Montrealer Jensen now releases her eagerly awaited follow up. Unlike Treelines, she points out, this new installment comprised of six extended works, does not have a specific theme or unifying thread. Instead, the compositions are inspired by a variety of events, one of these being a long trek taken by some of Quebec native peoples’ to Ottawa as well as some impressions from her travels abroad, one of these to Peru. The concert will thus be focused on that repertoire, maybe with music from the predecessor, if not other music flowing from her prolific pen.
» Thursday, October 3, 8 pm, Lion d’Or

Ensemble Rémi-Jean Leblanc – 9 histoires plus ou moins courtes pour 7 musiciens

A talented up-and-comer on the scene, bassist Rémi-Jean Leblanc is one of those players much in demand by his peers. Equally at ease with the double bass as its electric counterpart, he can work in a wide range of playing styles, from fusion to more mainstream jazz, the latter being the focus of his first album as a leader. With a front line of four winds, including sax man Jean-Pierre Zanella and trombonist Jean-Nicolas Trottier, the leader shares rhythm section duties with pianist Rafael Zaldivar and drummer Kevin Warren. All but one piece are penned by the leader, the exception being the standard Embraceable You for bass and piano alone. The music heard here is the outcome of a graduate studies project, recorded last June after two concert performances.
» Wednesday, October 9, 8 pm, Sala Rossa

Quartetski does Stravinsky (Ambiances Magnétiques)

At The Montreal New Music Festival last February, viola da gamba player Pierre-Yves Martel’s ensemble presented a completely new, refreshing vision of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. A month later, he and his bandmates (a quintet on this occasion) went into the studio, the results of which will be launched during the festival. Since its inception, this ensemble has taken on music from the classical repertoire, interspersing it with free improvisations. In this centenary of that masterpiece, the choice seemed almost obvious. After revisiting the works of Prokofiev, Satie, Purcell, Hume, and passing glance to Ellington, Quartetski is back on track with this latest record project, its first in seven years. In the wake of the concert, the ensemble will take it on the road, with stops in Ottawa and Toronto, and then to France for two more shows. Bravo messieurs!
» Thursday, October 10, 8 pm, Sala Rossa

John Roney and the Jazz Lab – World Colours (Effendi Records)

For over a decade, the Effendi Jazz Lab has established itself as the beacon of this prolific Montreal label. Its personnel, evolving over the years, has just about completely turned over in its current edition. A forum for composers, this octet enables its musicians to contribute their own compositions, even to develop extended works. Such will be the case on the festival’s closing night, when the group will perform a suite by its pianist, John Roney. As its title indicates, it is inspired by several musics and cultures that the composer was exposed to in his travels. As a bonus, two guests will join the ensemble - the festival’s current artistic director, harmonica player Lévis Bourbonnais, and last but not least, the superb New York violinist Mark Feldman.
» Saturday, October 12, 8 pm, Cabaret du Mile-End

 Last minute news
A fifth record launch is also slated, this one being a compilation of the Odd Sound label. The launch will take place at the Café Résonance on Monday, October 7 from 5 PM to 7 PM. There will be a series of short performances by the label’s artists.

Other Highlights

While the OFF showcases our talents, it also hosts other musicians, including certain distinguished guests. Apart from  Feldman, a New York influence will be present at two other concerts, one being saxophonist Chet Doxas’ show at Upstairs (October 5) with three of the Big Apple’s current crop of hot prospects in the jazz Mecca, including his long-time friend, bassist Zack Lober. Two big names will also appear the night before at the Lion d’Or (8 pm): Chicago drummer Hamid Drake and his close associate bassist William Parker backing pianist Marianne Trudel. This concert will be divided between this free improvisation and her own Montreal unit performing her compositions. Closer to home, Ottawa will be represented by two groups, trumpeter Craig Peterson’s free-bop ensemble (October 10, 10:30 pm) and the tandem of Marc Ferguson and Renée Yoxon (October 12, 5 pm). From among our own, there is the always delightful Derome-Guilbeault-Tanguay trio (October 4, 10:30 pm), Jacques Kuba Séguin’s interesting Litania Projekt (October 5, 8 pm), Nicolas Caloia’s quartet Tilting (October 5, 10:30 pm), and violinist Josh Zubot’s ensemble Mendham (October 6, 10:30 pm).

www.lofffestivaldejazz.com; 514-524-0831

Translation: Karine Poznanski

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