Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Trio Bruxo +2 post-mortem

Thanks to the select crowd of friends that hauled out to Il Motore on Sunday night. Il Motore is a beautiful new space, a stone's throw from Jean-Talon Market. The building used to be, as Casa booker Steve G. told me, "one of those sketchy video-lottery bars that you wonder how they can still be in business." Our new friends are now great allies and I hope to work with them again soon.

As a last minute addition, Moonstarr spun bossa and MPB beats between the sets, and graciously recorded the show, which turned out pretty well. Look for some of it to wind up on the Trio Bruxo space. For those of you who couldn't make it, and for those that did and wondered what tunes we were playing, here's the set list.

Set 1:
Sururu de Capote (Djavan) [trio only]
Canário do reino (Carvalho/Zapata)
Flor de lis (Djavan)
Lead Me Home (Jean Rohe)
Joana francesa (Chico Buarque)
Casa forte (Edu Lobo)
Piano na mangueira (Tom Jobim/Chico Buarque)
Fugiu com a novela (Vanessa da Mata)
Eta baião (Jackson do Pandeiro)

Set 2:
Brigas Nunca Mais (Tom Jobim)
13 de Maio (Caetano Veloso)
Give It Up (Jean Rohe)
Hombre Triste (Myk Freedman)
Quem te viu, quem te vê (Chico Buarque)
Eu só quero um xodó (Dominguinhos)
Asa branca (Luiz Gonzaga/Humberto Teixeira)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Start Your Engines

The Casa del Popolo family of venues are among my favourites in the city. From the small, intimate Casa to the larger Spanish social hall of La Sala Rossa, and even the short-lived, high school cafeteria setting of El Salon, these rooms book fantastic musicians, support independent and local artists, and have good sound. The latest addition to the group is Il Motore, on Jean-Talon and Waverly. I have the honour and fortune of playing there in three different groups over the next couple of months.

This Sunday, March 22, Trio Bruxo hits Il Motore with some new (to us) repertoire and some very special guests. Trio Bruxo is a newer project of mine, in the vein of the great Brazilian piano trios of the '60s and '70s. I'm joined by Nicolas Bédard on electric bass and Mark Nelson on drums. There may even be a guest DJ in the house. Doors open at 8.

On Thursday, April 2, I'll be playing alongside my good friend Becky Noble. Becky and I went to McGill together and were both out at the Banff Centre in 2005. She's since taken a bit of a hiatus from music and lives back on the West Coast, which is a shame because she's a fantastic composer and saxophonist. A one-night-only sextet has formed to play a mix of Becky's tunes and select covers.
The band is: Becky Noble - alto sax/compositions; Chet Doxas - tenor sax; DRR - keys; Tristan Paxton - guitar; Conrad Good - bass; Adam Miller - drums.

And finally, Sunday May 3 marks the return of Indigone Trio to the stage. Phil, Seb and I are busy with other things but it's always a pleasure to play my music with them. I'm hoping to have some new music written for this show. We'll be joined by some Ropeadope crew for this special showcase event.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


You know, as great as last night's show was, this still makes me jealous: the next installment of the VTech Timeless series at the Luckman Theater in LA will feature Arthur Veroçai and a 30-piece orchestra, Madlib on the decks, and Airto Moreira and 2/3 of Azymuth.

Damn. If you are anywhere in reasonable driving distance from LA, GO!

Voices and Rhythms of Brazil - Metropolis, 03/10/2009

I'm always amazed at how familial the music scene is here. Especially at world music shows, it often seems like one big family reunion - this was the case at the Boban Markovic concert last summer, and even more so last night at Metropolis. It appeared that the entire lusophone community of Montreal (along with some like-minded pretenders like me) was out in force. A four-hour tribute to bossa, samba, MPB, samba-rock and samba-reggae ensued in the company of locals (ringleader Monica Freire, keyboardist John Sadowy, the inimitable Vovô, and co-musical directors bassist Dan Gigon and saxophonist Jean-Pierre Zanella) and guests from Brazil and Paris, the night featured vocalists Freire, Rodrigo Maranhão, Mart'nália, Celso Fonseca and Margareth Menezes. Starting with the batucada of Estacão da Luz in the middle of the club, the first half featured each singer performing two or three songs, the last of which was generally a cover (Maranhão doing Caetano Veloso's "Você não entende nada," Mart'nália with her re-harmonized and re-grooved version of "Don't Worry, Be Happy," and Fonseca doing Marcos Valle's "Summer Samba"). Someone performed "Chiclete com banana" somewhere in the first set, I don't remember who!

What was truly inspiring, and a welcome reminder, were the versions of ubiquitous bossas that have made their way into the jazz canon - "Summer Samba," "Samba de uma nota só," "Águas de Março," "Água de beber." As a jazz musician, I've heard (and played) some terribly watered-down versions that bear no resemblance to the way the tunes are supposed to be done. Normally I can't stand "Águas de Março" but Freire and Fonseca did it well - and it's such a wordy tune that two native Brazilans needed a cheat sheet on a music stand!

The second set, after a batucada and capoeira interlude, started with Maranhão's version of "Agua de beber," and soon the spirit shifted from tribute concert to all-out festa. Freire got it going with Gilberto Gil's "Aquele abraço." Margareth Menezes, looking like a Bahian Tina Turner, led a sing-along of Jorge Ben's "País tropical" and Chico Cesar's "Mama Africa." The finale featured all five singing Jorge Ben's "Ive Brussel." The night was filmed by Spectra-Amerimage for broadcast - there were more than a few times where I nearly got beaned by a camera arm, and the stage setup had a very 1960s Ed Sullivan feel to it.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Heavy Metal Thunder

What happens when a bunch of jazz geeks with a love for rock collide with the director of a Digital Composition Studio, and Bruckner? Find out tomorrow evening in Pollack Hall (555 Sherbrooke W) as members of Kids Eat Crayons perform during MusiMars 2009's Heavy Metal Project, premiering Sean Ferguson's shoot•dash•it. Other pieces on the program include David Adamcyk's remix of Pierre Boulez for Fender Rhodes and narration, Elliot Britton's piece for keyboards, electric cello and V-Drums, and Scelsi's Uaxuctum.

Kids Eat Crayons: Jean-Philippe Major - vocals; David Ryshpan - keyboards; Scott Kingsley - bass; D.W. Lee - V-Drums; with Jimmie Leblanc - guitar; Sean Ferguson - digital processing.

Monday, March 02, 2009

SFJazz Collective - Metropolis, 02/27/2009

The SFJazz Collective is a rarity in many senses: an all-star group that rises above its concept to create and perform music that stands on its own; a leaderless (or multi-led) group of fantastic soloists that coheres into a group sound; a band paying homage to an iconic figure (in this case, McCoy Tyner) that retains their own identity. Tyner's presence, like Monk, looms so largely over his music - it demands a certain amount of his personalized vocabulary, without merely parrotting the trademark Tyner-isms. Pianist Renee Rosnes winked at the classic McCoy language and added her own personal take on the characteristic open fifths, quartal voicings and blistering pentatonic runs.

The concert began with Rosnes' arrangement of Tyner's "Fly Like the Wind." Opening with the lowest A on the piano, impressionistic flurries and a repeated phrase that got passed around the horns before leading into Rosnes' prelude and eventually the head, the arrangement signaled the type of reverent re-imagining of Tyner's music that would follow through the evening. Joe Lovano took the first solo, launching immediately into a double-time feel. At the arrangement's climax it collapsed back into the opening echo phrase, and ended on a resonant C major chord.

Trombonist Robin Eubanks' medley of Tyner's "Indo Serenade" and "Parody" followed. Drummer Eric Harland nailed the vaguely Latin, straight-eighth grooves framing these takes on Tyner's Milestone records from the 1970s. Eubanks parlayed "Indo-Serenade" into odd meters with metric trickery, while never losing the groove or drawing attention to the rhythmic intricacies. The call and response writing reminded me a bit of Guillermo Klein's work. Altoist Miguel Zenon and Eubanks took marvelous solos, with Harland performing a killing interlude into the 6/8 ending of "Parody."

Lovano's "Jazz Free" was a pun and comment on free jazz and truly exhibited the sensitive, empathetic listening going on in this group. The underlying elasticity of time, even when it wasn't stated outright, was reminiscent of Ornette Coleman, with a bass/drum interlude hearkening back to the intro of "Lonely Woman." The collective improvising never got cluttered, coalescing into a series of descending fifths while a soloist continued.

One of the highlights of the set was Dave Douglas' original "Sycamore," with a series of gorgeously simple melodies that effortlessly dovetailed into one another. I don't really have any more notes on this tune, because I was sitting there stunned and moved by the beauty of it. It was very much in the vein of his quintet book, but utilized the added colours of the SFJazz septet effectively. Douglas' playing was revelatory throughout the set - though I've heard him play in multi-horn groups (his Sextet records from the 1990s and early '00s for instance), I've never heard him lead a section's phrasing with such authority and empathy.

Zenon's arrangement of "Four by Five" opened with Harland's broken hip-hop feel and a cyclic repetition of a phrase before launching into a burning Dave Douglas solo in 4/4 swing. Bassist Matt Penman's arrangement of "Three Flowers" was highly inventive, with bass and piano playing the melody, trombone carrying the bassline, and the other three horns alternating between an accompaniment figure and collective blowing. It was subtle but completely effective at changing up the texture of the set. Harland's tune "E-Collective" ended the set with all four horns chanting the tala used throughout the piece, setting the groove that would continue - a nod to Harland's Indian rhythmic explorations alongside Charles Lloyd and Zakir Hussein.

Lovano's arrangement of "Aisha" served as the encore, with Douglas in cup mute. A simple, gracious nod of honour to McCoy and a fantastic parting gift to the audience.