Saturday, June 29, 2013

TD Ottawa Jazz Festival: Day 9

It doesn't get much better than catching two of my favourite young musicians in one of my favourite venues, especially when a cold rain is tumbling down outside.

If there's justice in the jazz world, pianist Marianne Trudel should be on the edge of a breakout. She is playing with confidence and creativity, and her compositions bristle with fresh ideas and a real sense of purpose. Check out her playing here, performing with trumpeter Ingrid Jensen at a show I caught last October at Quebec City's now-defunct Largo Resto-Bar.

She brought her new trio—Trifolia—to the National Arts Centre's Fourth Stage on Friday evening, and delivered a highly charged performance that featured a handful of new pieces by herself and bassist Etienne Lafrance. It's music filled with interesting textures, largely due to percussionist Patrick Graham's distinctive set-up, which includes everything from plastic wind whistles to bowls of water. The bass percussion is delivered by a combination of hand drums and cajon, so it's a light, fluid sound that's constantly shifting. Trudel joked that Graham was known as the "Paganini of the tambourine," (better that than the "Pavarotti of the tambourine," suggested my buddy Peter Bunnett from the audience) but his dexterity with the instrument is serious stuff. More texture is added by Trudel's use of a small accordion, which she introduced with a touching story about finding it in her grandfather's basement.

The band is finishing an extensive tour of Canada in mid-July. One can only hope that it finds a broader audience, too, because it is playing exceptional music that deserves to be widely heard.

Another young woman whose early I've followed with interest is guitarist Mary Halvorson. Friday's performance with drummer Tomas Fujiwara's Hook-Up found her deep into a Sonny Sharrock mode, adding harsh, variegated bursts of feedback—along with her trademark octave bends and aggressive chording—to the band's strident sound. With trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and tenor saxophonist Brian Settles up front, and the formidable Michael Formanek on bass, the quintet painted with bursts of sonic energy, Fujiwara displaying both power and grace.

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