36th edition of the International Jazz Festival in Montreal 2015
There is something truly magical about the International Jazz Festival, (its 36th edition ran from the 26th of June to the 5th of July 2015), that manages to introduce locals and tourists alike to the rhythmic pleasures of Jazz and Blues on both large outdoor stages as well as in the intimacy of smaller concert halls dispersed around Montreal.
For this year’s closing concert, thousands of music lovers converge on the grounds of the Place des Festivals to enjoy a free concert and pay tribute to one of the greatest legendary fathers of Blues:The Grand Blues Evening in Memory of B.B. King,
This year I attended several interesting performances that ranged from grandiose cabaret-musicals (Baz Luhrmann in Concert) to more intimate shows (Richard Galliano & Sylvain Luc’s touching homage to Edith Piaf ). I also took great pleasure in discovering and re-discovering local talents (virtuosic guitarist Jordan Officer ) and international artists that left their musical mark on me and countless others here in Montreal.
To bring a bit of the festival back with me, I took the opportunity to discover some of these incredible artists recent CD’s releases and share my favorite discoveries with you below:
Genevieve PM Roy
Sweet, bubbly and charming on and off stage : Kat Edmonson at Club Soda
Kat Edmonson presenting her latest CD the BIG PICTURE at Club Soda.
Standing on stage with a cute smile and demeanor, Kat is a veritable ball of energy that can belt out Country and Jazzy folk tunes with panache. Part of her magical charm is how in between songs, she relates well to her audience by sharing some of her own personal stories, romantic struggles and her love of black and white movies.
Her concert at Club Soda presented songs from her third album The Big Picture, released on September 30, 2014 through Sony Masterworks in which she co-wrote 11 of the dozen tracks. The CD has a broad appeal with a variety of songs with difference nuances and emotional depth.
Kat’s nuanced, nasal delivery perfectly suits her songs. I absolutely loved the opening song "Rainy Day Woman" offering the listener an instant cinematographic feeling. Another favorite is the deep and low acoustic piece "Oh My Love" in which Kat expresses how we can all be better people in the world.
My favorite song both live and on the CD is "You Can't Break My Heart", with soft strumming, strings and a quivering guitar; you can picture yourself surrounded by a spaghetti western setting riding off into the sunset. This is the one piece on the CD that Kat didn’t have a hand in writing, but instead pays homage to her writer friend Miles Zuniga who went through a particularly painful separation...
Blessed with a unique presence, strong vocal abilities and stronger song writing skills, Kat Edmonson is definitely a rising, young talent that I will keep following.
Bears of Legend - Ghostwritten Chronicles
There is something really magical about the phenomenon surrounding Bears of Legend, a group of seven multi-talented musicians from Trois-Rivières, who in their three years of existence, have already gathered an incredible fan base and enjoy tremendous success across the province.
I got the chance to listen to them live at La 5e Salle of Place des Arts and grab a copy of their latest CD Ghostwritten Chronicles. The group certainly lives up to the word “legend” in their name as their music is filled with personal stories and their album is a momentous work full of grandiose tracks. It is a must-own compilation for fans of orchestral and progressive folk music.
Their live show is brilliant in that the musicians play in almost perfect synchrony and you get a unique mix of cellos conversing playfully with wailing guitars and beating drums. I love how David Lavergne, the main story writer and leader of the group, interacts with fellow band mates and jokes around with the audience in a very humble but approachable way.
He explains: "Personally, I'm very shy and I use the stage to reveal my true nature. As our shows multiply, we see more and more the depth of soul of each member of the group and our music is gradually defined by that.”
Some of my favorite pieces include the opener on the CD “Be Mine, All Mine” that addresses the fears of dying alone. The band plays rather violently with wailing strings and percussive beats while the songwriter humbly begs for the listener to come to him, to stay with him. Another favorite is “She breaks me down” a personal tale of how the storyteller fell in love at first sight with the mother of his child. The whole piece ebbs and flows and pulls the audience into the superbly-mixed piece with complex and deeply fulfilling sounds.
The whole album is truly amazing. From the amazing artwork on the cover to the variety of solid pieces with easy to process sounds , it is the kind of album that will grip and engage you and you will definitely not want to skip any of the tracks.
Guillaume Martineau – Par 5 Chemins
Versatile and extremely talented pianist Guillaume Martineau took the audience at L’Astral on an exciting musical journey incorporating improvised pieces from a wide range of musical genres and styles found on his latest CD: Par 5 Chemins.
Being a first prize winner in 2009 at the Canadian Music Competition in classical piano and having recently completed studies in Jazz Piano at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Guillaume Martineau latest CD is his first Jazz focused work that he is quite eager to perform surrounded by his talented quartet of musicians who equally participated in the creation of each of the eight tracks composed by Martineau: Tevet Sela on saxophone, François Jalbert on guitars , Simon Pagé on electric bass and Raphael Pannier on drums.
The album opens with Out of the World, a calming piece that has the piano caressing each note, but then gradually turning into a series of playful ballads and brilliant cascading Rondos. Each piece on the album flows nicely into the other and sets your mind free to roam.
Guillaume creates musical experiences that transforms and evolves the rules of Jazz and invite the listener on a real journey that occurs not only through the different musical cultures of the world, but even more towards incorporating the spheres of dream and fantasy into his compositions and performances. Brilliant!
Completely blown away by young, virtuosic pianist Guillaume Martineau and his quartet!