The Montreal Jazz Festival: Day 8, 7/1/11
July 2, 2011. Posted by Michael Bourne.
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Tony Bennett kicked it off, his only interview of the festival. Have a listen on this very blog. He talks about how much he loves to sing at the jazzfest, how loving is the audience in Montreal. While we talked, he drew me. Again. My seventh portrait by Benedetto. If you don't know that singer Tony Bennett is painter Anthony Benedetto, have a look at the Benedettoarts.com website. His portrait of Louis Armstrong is one of the artworks for sale at the jazzfest gallery in the Place des Arts. The Butler Institute of Art recently included him in a catalog of the best American artists. The National Gallery in DC owns three of his paintings: his portraits of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, also his landscape of Central Park seen from the window of his studio. That his paintings hang in the same museum, on the same walls as his idols, especially John Singer Sargent, means more to Tony than all the Grammy Awards.
After the radio interview with pianist Jean-Michel Pilc and bassist Francois Moutin about the gig they were playing with drummer Ari Hoenig that evening in the Jesus Room, I wanted to hear that much more the interplay that they talked about. Hoenig's group Punk Bop last year in the Jesus Room was a revelation for me, especially how Hoenig's drums often played the lead, even the melody. They all play the lead and every which way in Trio Pilc Moutin Hoenig. No set list, they said. Out they came, and things happened. Often suddenly -- as if turning mid-air. Always brilliantly -- as if flashing light.
Pilc at first played tenderly, then they exploded. I've never heard an acoustic trio so incendiary. Pilc's fingers look like sparklers flying across the keyboard. And then, all at once, they're playing "Round Midnight." Hauntingly, as if swallowed by the darkness. Monk showed up quite often, and "Well, You Needn't" out-Monked Monk. Pilc played the melody as if in cracks between the cracks between the keys. Hoenig came out for an encore with a Canadian flag in his hat. Canada Day, it was. Not that they celebrate much in Quebec. Hoenig played a little "Oh, Canada" on his drums. Moutin played a taste of spangled stars. They all played a beautiful "Stella by Starlight."
Best for me was an almost hallucinogenic "Alice in Wonderland." Actually, nothing "almost" about the music they play. Trio Pilc Moutin Hoenig play deep down the rabbit hole.
-- Michael Bourne
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