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27. May. 2016

Spotlight On: French Jazz

Building on the success of this very special program that began in 2012, we’re pleased to bring a fifth edition of Spotlight on French Jazz to the festival in partnership with Institut Français and the Consulat Général de France à Vancouver. With four distinctive projects in this Spotlight program, three feature top French artists/ensembles, and the fourth continues a French collaboration with Vancouver musicians. Let’s have a look at what we’ve got.




This collaboration expands on last year’s successful meeting between virtuoso pianist Benoit Delbecq (Paris) and Vancouver’s François Houle clarinet, Gordon Grdina guitar and Kenton Loewen drums. The Canadians are well know for their work in a myriad of contexts – Houle with Turning Point, Michael Bates, Joelle Leandre, Dave Douglas. Grdina and Loewen with the middle-eastern jazz juggernaut Haram, Grdina’s trio, Peregrine Falls, the Crackling as well as associations with veterans like the late Paul Motian, Gary Peacock and Mark Helias. The Grdina/Loewen team might be best known in Vancouver for their long time involvement in singer /songwriter/indie star Dan Mangan’s band. A Vancouver regular since the 90’s, Delbecq has become one of the most interesting (and busy) pianists in jazz since his emergence with Kartet and the Recyclers in that decade. Last year they came together for a great set at the Ironworks and this year Delbecq returns on the invitation of Houle to do a studio recording and luckily for us to concertize at:

FREE! Performance Works on Canada Day (July 1)

Listen to Delbecq and Houle:


On the other hand, the Jacky Terrasson Trio has not performed in Vancouver since the 90’s, and word is that his recent performances at venues around North America and Europe have been superb. Mr.Terrasson gained initial attention by winning the Thelonious Monk Competition award in 1993 and through his early work with two great singers, Betty Carter and Cassandra Wilson. Over the years he’s recorded for Blue Note, Act, Concord, Universal and most recently Impulse with his 2015 release “Take This”. His playing has been described as a synthesis of Bud Powell and Ahmad Jamal with nods to Oscar Peterson’s virtuosity and French impressionists Debussy and Ravel. For fans of serious mainstream piano jazz this concert is a real event not to be missed!

At Christ Church Cathedral – June 27th

Learn more 


I first became aware of the French pianist Eve Risser through her appearance at the Moers festival in 2010 and I’m quite certain the first introduction was through one of her mentors, that being our good friend mentioned above, Benoit Delbecq.

Since then I’ve watched her development from a distance, but there wasn’t another opportunity to hear her live until the Jazz Ahead conference in Bremen with the duo Donkey Monkey (along with drummer Yuko Oshima) in 2014. Their performance aesthetic is quite unlike anything else I’ve ever heard. Ms. Oshima’s powerhouse Japanese punk derived rock-drumming gives this music an intense rhythmic momentum that might not often be associated with contemporary composed or for that matter freely improvised music that is Risser’s stock in trade. There’s also humour in some pieces – most notably in the quirky rendition of Carla Bley’s “Can’t Get My Motor To Start”. Their music is delicate and robust in kind, navigating a dynamic range that takes the listener from a kind of restrained minimalism (Risser) to thundering climaxes (Oshima) that seem to always surprise us in an unexpected having fun sort of way. At the end of the day, this duo has an interesting yin and yang vibe that is playful and engaging.

FREE June 27th – 2:30pm at Performance Works 



I'm not going to say I left the best for last, but I will say that the Emile Parisien Quartet has been one of my favourite discoveries of the past year and represents yet another musician that I heard live in Bremen for the first time in 2014. That showcase was in a chamber duo context with the accordionist Vincent Peraini. At the same time, his agent Laurent Carrier passed his recent quartet disc Spezial Snack (Act) on to me with the emphatic advice that I’d better listen because he was sure it would be right up my alley.

That was an understatement. I loved the album – much that I love about modern jazz is encapsulated in this young man’s music. A thorough knowledge of Stravinksy and Schoenberg, along with much that is key in modern jazz history (Trane, Cecil, Shorter, Braxton) inform expressionist tendencies that can be seen to be manifested with organized formality, nonetheless his music is rhythmically varied and the tempo changes made on a dime generate enormous interest and excitement. The quartet’s showcase at Winter Jazz was cited by Nate Chinen of the NY Times as one of the discoveries “that left the strongest impression”. This exploratory music never sounds stiff or stilted, conversely as far out to the edge as the music goes there’s always a sense of swing. Mr.Parisien deserves his emerging reputation as one of Europe’s brightest young talents on the jazz scene.

FREE June 25th – 2:30pm at Performance Works 





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