WBGO Blog
  • 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
  • Bourne's Montreal Interview with Saxophonist Joel Miller

    July 4, 2013. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Saxophonist Joel Miller talks with WBGO's Michael Bourne about his Latin Jazz ensemble Honeycomb, and their performances at this year's Festival International du Jazz de Montreal. Enjoy!

    joelmillerHoneycomb

  • Bourne's Montreal: Quartier des Spectacles Street Scene

    July 4, 2013. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    I bumped into a hippopotamus.

    Actually, the hippo, about seven feet tall, walking on hind legs, bumped into me.

    _D5A2340
    Photo by Ulisse Lemerise B.

    Actually, there were two hippos walking by, one tall, one short, on the festival street.

    And two gigantic flamingos, pinkish and/or orange.

    And stilt walkers, dressed in shiny purple or turquoise fabric feathers.

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

    And a Balkan band was whipping up -- I'm not certain what the rhythm was. Not the usual 4/4 of jazz. More like 7 or 9 or maybe 13/4. I lost count where one was. Not that anyone was counting.

    _VDL1432
    Photo by Victor Diaz-Lamich

    Everyone was having fun dancing. Including the hippos.

    Photo by Victor Diaz Lamich
    Photo by Victor Diaz Lamich
  • Bourne In Montreal With Steve Kuhn & Steve Swallow

    July 3, 2013. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Pianist Steve Kuhn and bassist Steve Swallow talk with WBGO's Michael Bourne about their trio album on ECM, Wisteria, with drummer Joey Barion, and the trio's performances at the Festival International du Jazz de Montreal. Enjoy!

    Photo by Ulisse Lemerise B
    Photo by Ulisse Lemerise B
  • Bourne's Montreal: Crazy Cows On Canada Day

    July 3, 2013. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    I've often said that one testament to the abundance of great music at Montreal's jazzfest is that you miss as many great concerts as all those you get to enjoy.

    Three groups played around the same time in the evening: I heard some of Mucca Pazza on the TD stage, most of Phronesis at L'Astral, all of The Bad Plus at the Gesu.

    Photo by Ulysse Lemerise B.
    Photo by Ulysse Lemerise B.

    Mucca Pazza means "crazy cow" in Italian. They're a wacky juggernaut from Chicago, a big band all dressed in colorful uniforms of a college marching band, complete with cheerleaders whirling pom-poms.

    Photo by Frederique Menard Aubin
    Photo by Frederique Menard Aubin

    They reminded me of the Willem Breuker Kollektief, a band of superbly musical clowns that I first heard in Montreal 20 years ago.

    Photo by Frederic Menard Aubin
    Photo by Frederic Menard Aubin

    Mucca Pazza gamboled about the stage with lots of horns, a gypsy-ish violinist, a rock-ish guitarist, and lots of parade drums all playing romping riffs. Serious fun, and what I like to call "very Montreal" ...

    Photo by Frederique Menard Aubin
    Photo by Frederique Menard Aubin

    Phronesis is a Euro-trio: English pianist, Danish bassist, Swedish drummer. They play pretty jazzy tunes -- literally, melodic and swinging -- danced delightfully like whirligigs.

    Phronesis

    The Bad Plus -- pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, drummer Dave King -- filled up the Gesu. I heard them there before, criss-crossing Ornette Coleman and Burt Bacharach covers.

    Photo by Frederique Menard Aubin
    Photo by Victor Diaz Lamich

    This time they played all originals, typically (by them) with rhythmic melodies and melodic rhythms. Reid Anderson was especially droll in his intros and outros.

    Photo by Victor Diaz Lamich
    Photo by Victor Diaz Lamich

    Today was Canada Day -- not that that mattered much in Montreal. I observed little maple leaf flags stuck in a girl's hair -- and that was all the celebration I was aware of.

    I know that something patriotic happens somewhere in the city, but not around the jazzfest. Montreal much more heartily celebrates on June 24th: Quebec Day.

    I've been 21 times to Montreal. I've never been to Canada.

    Photo by Victor Diaz Lamich
    Photo by Victor Diaz Lamich