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Rachel Therrien: Home Inspiration

Bruce Lindsay By

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Montreal-based trumpeter and composer Rachel Therrien's second album, Home Inspiration is a salutary reminder of something that the American jazz scene doesn't always seem to acknowledge—there's a thriving, young and imaginative jazz scene up north, in Canada.

All the tunes on Home Inspiration are originals, with Therrien taking composer credit for around half of them. They hark back to the glory days of the big bands and to the bebop era, they're rooted in more contemporary sounds as well.

Handclaps open proceedings on "To John" before Simon Pagé kicks in on electric bass. Therrien's first appearance is lyrical and melodic: a soft, mid-register and mid-tempo phrase that's soon doubled by Benjamin Deschamps' alto sax. It's a pleasingly typical introduction to Therrien's approach—lyricism and flow seem to be crucial to her playing, giving her the ability to craft long, graceful, lines on trumpet and flugelhorn that

"Ploma"—written by Pagé and Damien Levasseur—shifts things up a notch, tempo-wise but retains the emphasis on lyricism. Pagé's playing is busier and a touch funkier, but still controlled. Therrien's solo gives her a chance to display her own control and precision at an impressively quick tempo. Keyboardist Charles Trudel comps on electric keys but also adds some effects—enough to give more tonal variation but not so much as to become intrusive.

"Lost" and its slightly longer alternative take, move things into more left-field territory, Trudel's effects taking a bigger share of things while the music shifts between straight-ahead and freer sections. Interesting and not without a touch of humor, but it seems a little out of kilter with the rest of the tunes. Trudel's "Thelxinoe" does fit: a melancholy piano/flugelhorn duet, its mood set and extended by Trudel's piano introduction and Therrien's considered, empathic, phrases. "La Soledad" is equally gentle, but makes use of the full band—Deschamps judges his alto playing beautifully, crucial to the tune's melancholy romance.

"Last Inspiration" moves close to jazz fusion, especially with Trudel's electric keyboard sound. "Out Of A Dream" is rooted in bebop—Therrien and Deschamps' unison phrasing is crisp, precise and swinging: the rhythm players, on acoustic instruments, exude energy. "Paradis" is another swinger, moving between a relaxed, trumpet-led groove and a slinkier electric bass and keys section.

As the album progresses it becomes clearer and clearer that Therrien's stylistic range is wide—noticeable wider than many younger jazz players. More importantly, she's not merely a stylistic dilettante: there's an authenticity in these tunes that reflects understanding and emotional connection as well as technical proficiency. Therrien has all three. In spades.

Track Listing

To John; Ploma; Lost; Thelxinge; Whatever; Paradis; Last Inspiration; La Soledad; Parallele; Out of a Dream; Lost (alt. take); Parallele (alt. take).

Personnel

Rachel Therrien: trumpet, flugelhorn; Benjamin Deschamps: alto saxophone; Charles Trudel: piano and keyboard; Simon Page: electric and acoustic bass; Alain Bourgeois: drums.

Album information

Title: Home Inspiration | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced

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