Jazz: At a venue near you

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Based on previous experience, the live jazz scene really shifts into overdrive early in October. Not so this year. In fact, it’s off and running just after Labour Day. On September 6, Upstairs Jazz Bar presents a season-opening concert and record launch pairing Israeli saxophonist Tevet Sela and John Roney (see opposite page for album details). At the same venue, French native and pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, now firmly ensconced in town since his move here two years ago, holds his monthly trio gig, with dates on Sept. 18, Oct. 27 and Nov. 18.

Now in its fifth season, the Orchestre National de Jazz de Montreal (ONJM) has two very different programs in store. On September 21, they tackle music penned by Vancouver trumpeter and composer John Korsrud at l’Astral with three guest soloists in tow: avant-garde guitarist René Lussier, pianist Marianne Trudel and violinist Lisanne Tremblay. On October 5 at the Maison de la culture Ahuntsic-Cartierville, the band will perform anew Christine Jensen’s five-movement work Under the Influence, currently available on a recent record of the same name on the Justin Time label.
October 10 happens to be the centenary of Thelonious Monk’s birth. Rémi Bolduc and his ensemble haven’t forgotten and they will “dream Monk” (as per the show’s title) at the Salle Bourgie on September 28.

The Casa del Popolo, the hotspot for the city’s out scene, has several of shows to offer with a decidedly free improvised edge to them.

  • Peggy Lee Octet’s Tell Tale Tour – Casa del Popolo, Sept. 12.
  • John Butcher/Matthew Shipp/Thomas Lehn + Faye MacCalman – Sala Rossa, Sept. 18.
  • Frode Gjerstad Trio (from Norway) + guest trombonist Steve Swell – Casa del Popolo, Sept. 20.
  • Ballister (Dave Rempis, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Paal Nilssen-Love) – Casa del Popolo, Oct. 10.

Productions SuperMusique, the concert arm of the Ambiances Magnétiques label, opens its show season on two consecutive nights at the Salle du Gesù: On October 5, flutist Cléo Palacio-Quintin is ringleader, and on the next evening, there will be two acts, the first featuring the improvisational vocal ensemble Joker, with guest from England Maggie Nichols, who will also join the GGRILL (an improvisational collective from Rimouski) in the second half. On November 22, Pierre-Yves Martel will explore unchartered territories on his viola di gamba in a trio setting at la Vitrola, just four days before an open rehearsal/concert of the Ensemble SuperMusique at the Sala Rossa.

The city-operated Maisons de la culture circuit, generally reliable as a programmer of jazz shows, offers somewhat slim pickings this fall. One exception is the aforementioned event in Ahuntsic. Apart from the ONJM, there will be a duo tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass with vocalist Sonia Johnson (Oct. 12), the world-music group Jazzamboka (Oct. 19) and Jazz Affair (Oct. 26). This year’s winner of the Galaxy jazz talent search, altoist Benjamin Deschamps, plays with his quintet at the Maison Frontenac (Oct. 15) and the Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur (Nov. 3). www.accesculture.com.

October is also OFF Festival time. Its eighteenth edition, running from the 5th to the 14th, will be true to form, showcasing local talent, both new and established, with a handful of guests from both sides of the border (see advertisement on this page). Read our feature article next month on bands that will launch records during this event.

On November 4, the Casa d’Italia will honour trumpeter Guido Basso (81 years young!) as its first inductee to a newly created Hall of Fame for Italian Canadians. A stalwart of the Toronto jazz scene since the Sixties, this native Montrealer will be celebrated that evening as guest soloist of the Altsys Jazz Orchestra. More on this next month.

In the run up to winter, pianist Lorraine Desmarais is to appear as a guest soloist of the MSO. On December 5th and 7th, and a matinee on the 10th, she will perform alongside the orchestra during a screen showing of The Railrodder, an NFB short directed by Gerald Potterton and shot in 1965, a year before the passing of its star Buster Keaton. The set for this movie was right here in town, on the very tracks that cut through the Town of Mount Royal.

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About Author

Marc Chénard is a Montreal-based multilingual music journalist specialized in jazz and improvised music. In a career now spanning some 30 years, he has published a wide array of articles and essays, mainly in Canada, some in the United States and several in Europe (France, Belgium, Germany and Austria). He has travelled extensively to cover major festivals in cities as varied as Vancouver and Chicago, Paris and Berlin, Vienna and Copenhagen. He has been the jazz editor and a special features writer for La Scena Musicale since 2002; currently, he also contributes to Point of Departure, an American online journal devoted to creative musics. / / Marc Chénard est un journaliste multilingue de métier de Montréal spécialisé en jazz et en musiques improvisées. En plus de 30 ans de carrière, ses reportages, critiques et essais ont été publiés principalement au Canada, parfois aux États-Unis mais également dans plusieurs pays européens (France, Belgique, Allemagne, Autriche). De plus, il a été invité à couvrir plusieurs festivals étrangers de renom, tant en Amérique (Vancouver, Chicago) que Outre-Atlantique (Paris, Berlin, Vienne et Copenhangue). Depuis 2012, il agit comme rédacteur atitré de la section jazz de La Scena Musicale; en 2013, il entame une collabortion auprès de la publication américaine Point of Departure, celle-ci dédiée aux musiques créatives de notre temps.

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