WBGO Blog
  • Montreal Jazz Festival in Photos: Michel Donato

    July 3, 2011. Posted by David Tallacksen.

    Add new comment | Filed under: FIJM 2011

    Hear Michael Bourne's interview with bassist Michel Donato.

    Another great performance shot! By day, our photographer David Tallacksen engineers Michael Bourne's broadcasts from Montreal. The quartet of Donato, François Bourassa on piano, Frank Lozano on tenor, and Pierre Tanguay on piano played at 6pm last night (Sat) as part of the series Jazz D'Ici (Jazz from Here, i.e., Montreal) at the club L'Astral.

    Yes, Donato's bass sounds like wood, and I love the way he can walk his bass lines. In 1977 at a club called The Rising Sun in Montreal, Donato played with Bill Evans (1929-81, born in Plainfield, NJ). To the group, that means there's only one degree of separation between last night's group and Evans himself, whose music they played: Peri's Scope, Two Lonely People, Sno' Peas (by Phil Markowitz) which morphed into Days of Wine and Roses, Gloria's Step, and the theme Five. I like the way tenor man Lozano played the scoops and leaps of the melody on the encore, Very Early.

    FIJM photo
    FIJM photo

    On a Montreal Gazette blog, Peter Hadekel wrote, "But if this evening was a success, it was mostly due to Francois Bourassa, who filled Evans’s considerable shoes at the piano admirably. A tribute such as this one is a lot to ask of any pianist, but Bourassa did more than just master the voicings and chord patterns favoured by Evans. He  conjured up some of the heart and spirit that made the piano master so great, with a  solo on Gloria’s Step that was sheer brilliance."

    This quartet got me thinking. When I went to music school in the mid 80s, Evans was a major major influence (which I resisted). Ever the student, last night I noted how Evans worked in conventional song forms (32 bars), absorbed the distilled melodies of bebop but made his more flowing and lyrical. The words "ve-ry early" fit like a glove on the first four notes of the melody. The exploration is in the harmonies. Evans had a legendary touch that made the inner voices sing. This Canadian quartet is releasing a CD in late summer/early fall on the Effendi label so you can hear them and your inner voice can sing too.

    Just for fun, there is a YouTube video of BE playing his theme, Five, here.

    -- Becca Pulliam

  • Roma Carnivale Vs. Fanfare Severni - A Battle of the Street Bands

    July 3, 2011. Posted by David Tallacksen.

    Add new comment | Filed under: FIJM 2011

    This year the Festival presents the Rencontres festives, where two groups perform individual sets at either end of the Place des Festivals, and then meet up in the middle for a musical face-off. Roma Carnivale—10 Montreal musicians playing in the Serbian tradition—and Fanfare Severni—with music from the Klezmer, Moldavian, Serbian, Bulgarian and Turkish traditions—play in this battle of the bands.

    Check out photos:

    And video:

  • Montreal Jazz Festival in Photos: Trio Pilc Moutin Hoenig

    July 3, 2011. Posted by David Tallacksen.

    Add new comment | Filed under: FIJM 2011

  • Montreal Jazz Festival in Photos: Phronesis

    July 2, 2011. Posted by David Tallacksen.

    Add new comment | Filed under: FIJM 2011

    WBGO recently had Phronesis in the studio for The Checkout. Take a listen!

  • Montreal Jazz Festival in Photos: Richard Galliano & Gonzalo Rubalcaba

    July 2, 2011. Posted by David Tallacksen.

    Add new comment | Filed under: FIJM 2011

    The concert opened with Gonzalo and Galliano in a pool of navy light. I thought, how simple, how beautiful. Gonzalo was meditative at the piano, Galliano played a little melodica-like instrument, everything was pretty.

    Galliano strapped on his accordion -- buttons down both sides -- for some French musette, Argentinian new tango, J. S. Bach arranged for two, Gonzalo  all in white, Galliano all in black. On their respective instruments, they are unlimited.

    Each man gave the audience some time alone with the other. I don't recall either speaking a word to us, though they exchanged quiet comments between some pieces, perhaps choosing or confirming the sequence as they went along. Gonzalo is from Cuba, Galliano from France. What language do they speak to one another?

    In Galliano's second solo, the lighting changed dramatically and rose from stage level, from a wide ring of bright spots near the floor. The music intensified. Gonzalo interpolated a Sousa march into an elegant Cuban danson. He gave Galliano a boogie to blow over. Galliano's center of gravity is in his knees; the stronger he plays, the deeper he bends. The music became a blur of light and dark, followed by two encores.

    The FIJM's Andre Menard introduced and back-announced the concert from the stage. The hall looked sold out, at least the orchestra level, and offered a quintessential FIJM experience with virtuosos, great production, and strong emotions. -- Becca Pulliam