Pianos pop up in odd placesairports, shopping malls, and Quebec's Mount Royal Park, where pianist Ariane Racicot strode up to a lonely upright, sat down and presented an unsuspecting crowd to a killer version of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." This performance then popped up on YouTube, where it has garnered 18 million views.
Racicot was a teenager at the time of that wow-the-crowd street performance. She is, as she releases her debut album Envolee in 2022, just twenty-five, but if the Mount Royal Park performance announced, "I'm Here!" Envolee doubles down on that proclamation, bigly (to quote a buffoonish former President).
Envolee sounds like a grabbing of the piano trio format to give it a good shake. These are energetic and passionate sounds. "Vertige," the first of the five Racicot originals, opens with a stately and ominous vibe before a shift into an implacable momentum. Like many modern piano trios, Racicot seems influenced by progressive rock roots and informed by a classical background, along with hints of fusion and modal jazz. In the middle of all the pianistic vigoron "Vertige" and throughouta stunning virtuosity can be heard.
A verve similar to what is heard on Racicot's version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" performance is on display with "Coffee and Cigarettes," along with deft trio interplay and a sequence of the pianist's aptitude for a captivating delicacy of touch that leads into a higher octane groove.
"Bicycle Ride" sounds like a careening roll through crowded streets, while "Crepuscule" offers a moment of beautiful reflection.
Racicot seems to have no allegiance to any one style, but rather applies an "anything goes" way of working, mixing effervescent adroitness and youthful zest to create an original soundno easy thing in the piano trio format.
"A ciel ouvert" wraps things up, initially like rolling thunder, that eventually tapers down to delicate raindrops, saying Ariane Racicot is here.
Vertige; Coffee and Cigarettes; Bicycle Ride; Crépuscule; À ciel ouvert
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.