3

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal 2019: Week 2

Mark Sullivan By

Sign in to view read count
Swedish pianist Esbjorn Svensson's "Seven Days of Falling" was combined with a Helbock composition. The arrangement included a small electronic beat box: at one point Helbock played it by raising his foot onto the table while still playing the piano with both hands. Addressing the audience, Helbock said they were Austrian, but the famous alp horn was too large to bring on the plane. So Bär duplicated the sound with a coiled hose and a tuba mouthpiece, and was joined by Broger on trumpet. The sound they created turned out to be an introduction to saxophonist Paul Desmond's famous "Take Five" (associated with pianist Dave Brubeck). Broger played the head on tenor saxophone, switching to soprano saxophone for the bridge. When Helbock finally introduced the classic piano accompaniment riff the performance took off like a carousel ride.

This group is really something special. Three remarkable musicians who create a kaleidoscope of sound, and are visually entertaining to boot.

Joshua Redman Quartet/Alex Lefaivre YUL Quartet

Bass guitarist Alex Lefaivre's YUL Quartet was nominated for the TD Grand Jazz Award (which is awarded to young Canadian jazz artists), which gave the group the unenviable task of opening for the beloved Joshua Redman Quartet. They are a contemporary jazz band made up of Erik Hove (alto saxophone), Nicolas Ferron (guitar), Mark Nelson (drums) and the leader on electric bass & compositions. After their opening tune, which had a distinct ECM vibe, he acknowledged as much, asking the audience "are you looking forward to hearing Joshua Redman as much as I am?" They then launched into a very creative interpretation of the theme from filmmaker John Carpenter's horror film Halloween. Beginning with the creepy theme—which the crowd immediately recognized—the arrangement opened up into an improvisational vehicle. They closed their brief set with a sort-of ballad, again with that rhythmic feeling of ECM-style rubato.

Joshua Redman was presented with the Miles Davis Award (which honors a great international jazz musician for the entire body of their work and influence in regenerating the jazz idiom) by Festival co-founder and Artistic Director André Ménard before his set. Both men managed to mix up the names of Redman with his father Dewey Redman, who was responsible for Joshua's first appearance at the festival in 1991. After remarking on the physical weight of the award statue ("how am I going to get this thing home?"), Redman was happy to get on with the performance.

Much of the song list came from the quartet's current album Come What May (Nonesuch Records, 2019), the third in the group's twenty-year history. Redman played a long unaccompanied tenor saxophone introduction to "Circle Of Life," before the group launched into its long-line theme. At times the music almost sounded through-composed, with seamless transitions from written to improvised. It was the first indication of just how attuned these players are to each other, with perhaps an additional boost from the attentive audience and the occasion. "How We Do" moved from a start-and-stop theme into fast swing, and kept that contrast going throughout the solos.

Redman paused to announce the songs and introduce the band members, saying that he had played more gigs with these three players than any others in his career. He also complimented all of the Canadians present on the Toronto Raptors' first NBA championship, commenting "you just get one." "Come What May" featured a lyrical (and bluesy) double bass solo from Reuben Rogers. An Aaron Goldberg original began with his unaccompanied piano. Even after the rest of the rhythm section joined the arrangement stayed fluid: after more piano solo with light percussion only, the trio returned, finally leading into an unaccompanied drum solo by Gregory Hutchinson.

Legendary bebop saxophonist Charlie Parker's "Chi Chi" displayed the band's bebop prowess. At one point it dropped back to a piano/bass duet, and the climax found the whole band trading fours with the drums. The standard "Skylark" featured another long unaccompanied saxophone introduction, perhaps recalling the great Sonny Rollins. "Stagger Bear" (named after a weird dream Redman had about a drunk teddy bear) was opened by the bass, and featured saxophone and piano trading fours. For an encore the group returned with a Swing-era jazz standard.

A remarkable performance, highlighting the trust and generosity these players have developed over the years. There was always room for surprise, for players and audience alike.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Live Reviews
In Pictures
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Read more articles
Still Dreaming

Still Dreaming

Nonesuch Records
2018

buy
Nearness

Nearness

Nonesuch Records
2016

buy
The Bad Plus Joshua Redman

The Bad Plus Joshua...

Nonesuch Records
2015

buy
Trios Live

Trios Live

Nonesuch Records
2014

buy
Walking Shadows

Walking Shadows

Nonesuch Records
2013

buy
Compass

Compass

Nonesuch Records
2009

buy

Upcoming Shows

Related Articles

Read Summer Jazz and Fringe Jazz Fest 2019 Live Reviews
Summer Jazz and Fringe Jazz Fest 2019
By Jakob Baekgaard
July 17, 2019
Read North Sea Round Town 2019 Live Reviews
North Sea Round Town 2019
By Henning Bolte
July 17, 2019
Read Kiefer Sutherland at Irving Plaza Live Reviews
Kiefer Sutherland at Irving Plaza
By Mike Perciaccante
July 13, 2019
Read Dionne Warwick with Special Guest Darlene Love at NYCB Theatre at Westbury Live Reviews
Dionne Warwick with Special Guest Darlene Love at NYCB Theatre at Westbury
By Christine Connallon
July 13, 2019
Read 2019 Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland Live Reviews
2019 Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland
By C. Andrew Hovan
July 12, 2019
Read Festival International de Jazz de Montréal 2019: Week 2 Live Reviews
Festival International de Jazz de Montréal 2019: Week 2
By Mark Sullivan
July 11, 2019