Saturday, July 02, 2011

FIJM 2011 - Day 8

Another Jazz Fest day dominated by the outdoor stages. Singer Magos Herrera kicked off the evening with a set of music from her new album Mexico Azul. Herrera takes songs from the golden era of Mexican cinema spanning the 1930s-50s, and re-arranges them in a polished, modern jazz setting. Many of the tunes were reset in odd meters, reflecting the traditional Mexican 3 feel with a subtle lilt. Pianist Luis Perdomo and guitarist Nir Felder laid a lush harmonic carpet for Herrera's voice. Both of them were strong, impressive soloists, especially Perdomo with his post-Herbie Hancock language. The balance between drummer Alex Kautz and percussionist Rogerio Boccato was something to behold - the two never got in each other's way, and with Boccato playing his multi-percussion setup with sticks most of the time, it really blended into the sound of Kautz's kit. Herrera pushed her voice (which sounds more powerful now than it did on Distancia) with a bit of a pop-ish manner. The only headscratching moment came at the end of the set, when she delivered the beautiful "Tres Palabras" in English, which seemed to rob it of its poetry.

I caught a bit of Peru's Novalima, whose electronically-enhanced Afro-Peruvian funk translates far better on a big outdoor stage with lots of bass than in the cabaret setting of Lion D'or (as I saw a few years ago). Still riding the wave of their last album, Coba Coba, they previewed some new material from an upcoming record. Based on the set, I look forward to hearing it.

Nomadic Massive & Groundfood tore the roof off Savoy late night. Nomadic warmed up the crowd with some of their live set staples, with a couple of new tracks interspered. Then they made way for Groundfood, who added an MC alongside their usual crew of Kalmunity-affiliated band members. Then, the masterpiece was the all-killer, no-filler, hybrid set of Hip Hop Revival greatest hits. What started as a one-off night of Native Tongues covers has grown into a new Montreal tradition. Their set on Saturday included Black Star's "Definition," Tali & Meduza taking on Lauryn Hill's "That Thing," and the closing posse cut "Scenario." The highlight of the night was seeing the hip-hop colours of guitarist Ali Sepu (taking the mic for "Insane in the Membrane") and poet/trumpeter Blackbird. A night not to be forgotten.

A note: Tali mentioned on the mic (and this was corroborated by FIJM programmer Marc-André Sarault) that on the first night of Nomadic's midnight residency, there were up to 2000 people waiting outside that couldn't get in. On Saturday, Savoy was full well before midnight. In a year where the outdoor "blowouts" have been referred to by the Gazette's Bernie Perusse as "underwhelming," perhaps FIJM should consider booking Nomadic, Groundfood, and their extended family of the Montreal soul & hip-hop scene for a real homegrown expo next year. Just a thought.

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