I'm spending five days at one of my favourite jazz festivals, in Quebec City, and as usual it is opening my ears to artists I don't get a chance to hear elsewhere. Anyone who has explored the jazz scene beyond the main stage shows at the Montreal International Jazz Festival knows the wealth of artists who live and work in the province of Quebec, and this festival showcases many of them.
Last night, I enjoyed the quartet led by bassist Guillaume Bouchard, which features the estimable Michel Côté on tenor sax, and then a free-blowing trio that was dominated by trumpeter Aron Doyle. Originally from British Columbia, Doyle went through McGill University's music program and has been a mainstay in several mainstream-minded bands in Montreal. This is the first time I've heard him play at length, and he is impressive. My DownBeat colleague John Murph heard some Terence Blanchard in his playing, but Doyle also put me in mind of Dave Douglas in his ability to expand melodies without inhibition.
More fun to come; tonight's main show features an all-star Quebec band led by the great Jean Derome, playing the music of Billy Strayhorn.