On the train back home yesterday, I found out Bernard Primeau died at the age of 67, from cancer. I had seen him in the spring, on a panel at McGill about the Quebec music business, and he looked as robust and as strong as ever.
I knew Bernard more through reputation than through his music, to be totally honest. I don't think I've ever seen him play, and if I've heard his music it's only been in passing. I did meet him at a couple of Jazz Fest press conferences I attended through CKUT, and he was always smiling and cracking jokes. The trio of him, the late bassist and Montreal jazz institution Charlie Biddle and pianist Oliver Jones were always in great spirits. I always thought of Bernard as the Montreal equivalent of an Art Blakey - he was always taking in new talent into his bands, usually fresh out of one of the universities here. When he spoke at that panel about the music business, he was honest and frank, and I appreciated that. He just won the Prix Oscar Peterson for contributions to Canadian jazz at this summer's Montreal Jazz Festival. What timing.
Rest in peace, Bernie.