WBGO Blog
  • Bourne's Montreal Moments With Lovett, Swallow & More

    July 5, 2013. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    There comes a moment at every jazzfest in Montreal. I'll be walking along Place des Arts, and I'll hear music that stops me.

    Photo by Victor Diaz Lamich
    Photo by Victor Diaz Lamich

    Last year it was a trombonist in a college band, playing with a sound too deep and beautiful for someone so young. This year it was a singer singing "Skylark" on the outdoor Rio Tinto Alcan stage.

    I walked around to the front for a look. She was young. So were all the players in the big band from the college Lionel-Groulx. About equally young women and men. All swinging.

    Young Musicians From Montreal's College Lionel Groulx
    Young Musicians From Montreal's College Lionel Groulx

    I forget which Ellington song they played next, but I remember the sureness of the singer's voice, and I remember the handsome, bearded, 20-something tenor saxist soloing. I could hear him thinking through the changes. I could hear him, hear all of them, learning to know how. Another generation of jazz. All swinging.

    kuhntrio01
    Photo by Denis Alix

    Another Montreal Moment: Steve Kuhn, Steve Swallow, and Joey Baron played one of Swallow's hipper tunes, "Ladies in Mercedes."

    "What color was the Mercedes?" hollered someone in the audience.

    "I don't know," said Swallow. "I wasn't looking at the Mercedes."

    Photo by David Tallacksen
    Photo by David Tallacksen

    One more Montreal Moment: Lyle Lovett played and sang quasi-country songs and quasi-bluegrass. He also explained the difference:

    "Country songs," he said, "can bring you down." "Bluegrass," he said, "can kill you."

    Photo by David Tallacksen
    Photo by David Tallacksen
  • Bourne's Montreal Interview With Pianist Bill Charlap

    July 5, 2013. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Pianist Bill Charlap talks with WBGO's Michael Bourne about his performances at the Montreal nightclub "Le Upstairs," as part of the Festival International du Jazz de Montreal. Enjoy!

    Photo by Carol Friedman
    Photo by Carol Friedman
  • Bourne's Montreal: Alain Caron, Steve Kuhn Trio at Gesu

    July 5, 2013. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    Alain Caron was honored with the Montreal jazzfest's Oscar Peterson Award, a lifetime achievement award honoring a Canadian artist. He's the first musician to be honored twice.

    Photo by Denis Alix
    Photo by Denis Alix

    In the 70's and 80's, Caron played electric bass in a very popular Quebecois jazz/rock power trio called Uzeb.

    They were honored with the OP Award as a group in 1972, and played their farewell concert on the festival's biggest outdoor stage back then, the first of the festival's Grands Evenements that I attended.

    I remember the group blasting into the night as tens of thousands of festgoers rocked the street.

    Photo by Denis Alix
    Photo by Denis Alix

    Alain Caron blasted again at the Gesu -- although he always looked so calm, meandering casually around the stage while the band blew the roof off.

    I can't remember a concert so loud (without being deafening) and so rocking at the Gesu. Something to do with musical dynamics, not the artifice of rock volume.

    Photo by Denis Alix
    Photo by Denis Alix

    Caron's tunes have solid hooks, and his drummer, Damien Schmitt, is the dynamo. Playing two differently tuned bass drums, various other drums, and cymbals aplenty. Playing with staggering speed and sounding like a firefight of machine guns and cannons.

    I pretty much lost interest in electric jazz/rock "fusion" -- or whatever it's still called -- back in the 70's, but live at the Gesu, feeling again the thunder of Caron's music was great fun.

    gesu1
    Photo by David Tallacksen

    "Jazz dans la nuit" concerts at the Gesu have been a festival of wonderful trios, and especially superb drummers. Bill Stewart with Peter Bernstein and Larry Goldings. Justin Faulkner with Jacky Terrasson. Dave King with The Bad Plus. Joey Baron with Steve Swallow and Steve Kuhn.

    Photo by Ulisse Lemerise B.
    Photo by Ulisse Lemerise B.

    All trios that play beyond the ancient concept of a pianist playing the lead with the bassist walking harmony and the drummer keeping time. Each of these trios uniquely created together a fourth musical presence. Drummers were melodic. Bassists played the lead sometimes. Pianists whipped up some grooves.

    Photo by Ulisse Lemerise B.
    Photo by Ulisse Lemerise B.

    I especially enjoyed Joey Baron, playing quietly, quickly, tunefully, every which way, always with a smile. Joey said he's happy playing with masters like Swallow and Kuhn. The Steves were as inspired by Joey. Kuhn's "Oceans in the Sky" was a symphonic whirlwind. Kuhn's "The Zoo" was a charming encore.

    Photo by David Tallacksen
    Photo by David Tallacksen