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Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville 2016, Part 1

Mike Chamberlain By

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Throat singer Tanya Tagaq and her improvising trio with drummer Jean Martin and violinist Jesse Zubot, are a sensation. Despite winning the 2014 Polaris Prize, a Canadian popular music award, for their album Animism, the trio has not abandoned their improvisational approach. They appeared at Victoriaville in 2010, but this time were joined by guest Montreal guitarist Bernard Falaise and choir leader Christine Duncan, who led the Element Choir, a group of some thirty voices from the Victoriaville region, some professional, some amateur. This grouping had a lot of moving parts, and the potential for disaster was quite high as these things go, but the performance was very successful, Duncan managing to blend her instrument —the choir—with the other musicians—no mean feat in a totally improvisational context. If one is to judge the health of Canadian improvised music by this and the preceding performance, the patient is doing quite well, indeed.

Friday closed out with a wonderfully funny, raucous set by Fet.Nat, a rock group from Gatineau, Quebec (across the river from Ottawa), fronted by dadaist wild man JFNO, who good-naturedly provoked and prodded the audience , who were enthralled by (and dancing to) a delightful blend of punk, funk, free jazz, and absurdist comedy.

This was a strong set of performances that bodes well for the final two days of the festival.

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