ADISQ 2015 — Nomination
Juno 2015 — Nomination
Prix Opus 2014-15: Disque de l’année — Jazz — Finaliste
Energetic, impassioned pianist and composer Marianne Trudel offers us her latest album and project La vie commence ici [Life Begins Here!]. One again, this artist has successfully combined the best ingredients in order to deliver music that will touch connoisseurs and neophytes alike; an exceptional group that joins forces with the extraordinary New York trumpeter Ingrid Jensen. Take the plunge into adventure… Life begins here!
“In each leaf, each wave, each stone
Each gesture, each look
A laugh, a kiss, a tear
Oh! A heron! Did you see?
Life. Here. Now.
Immense and fragile
- Justin Time Records
- JTR 8588 / 2014
- UPC/EAN 068944858828
- Total duration: 51:14
Not in catalogue
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La vie commence ici
CD 2.0JTR 8588Not in catalogue
In the press
Patrick Hadfield, LondonJazzNews, May 14, 2015Trudel wrote all the tunes, many of which carry an emotional intensity. A fine record from the Canadian pianist and her band. Three Cheers.
Stuart Broomer, The WholeNote, no. 20:5, February 1, 2015… Trudel’s material can suggest Mozart, at other times Ravel, […] developing a meditative depth that communicates a reverence for life.
Christophe Rodriguez, Sorties Jazz Nights, January 29, 2015
Neil Hobkirk, Wall of Sound, December 31, 2014Unfolding decisively with anthemic uplift, “Soon” impacts mission statement-style, like a musical calling card. Here’s a composer, it announces, with her own identifiable sound. […] Absolute perfection of the track sequence, which sustains a palpable non-verbal narrative right across the record. In light of such accomplished unity, let’s consider this whole album a calling card—a signifier of Marianne Trudel’s brilliant presence and promise. […] The two-minute “Question” breathes the same rarified atmosphere as Ives’ The Unanswered Question and Copland’s Quiet City. The four-minute “Night heron” begins as a similarly elemental snippet, but after a minute and a half of abstract equivocation the duo breaks out a gorgeous Trudelian melody delivered haltingly, mirroring a beauty fleetingly glimpsed.
Mathieu Charlebois, L’actualité, December 1, 2014
Gilles Boisclair, SOCAN, Paroles & Musique, December 1, 2014Piece by piece, Marianne Trudel is building a body of work that is increasingly mature and sensitive.
Dave Sumner, Bird is the Worm, November 19, 2014An excellent new release from pianist Marianne Trudel. La vie commence ici comes off as being very centered. There’s a calm to the music even when things get a bit heated. Soloists are provided optimal conditions to express their thoughts, and the way in which their solos, more often than not, build on the group vision rather than focus on just their own individual perspective is the element that provides the album its sense of flawless completion. It’s one of those albums that resonates strongly by keeping things simple and honing its focus.
Christophe Rodriguez, Le Journal de Montréal, November 3, 2014Refined writing, 10 very personal tracks, an invitation to journey. Ingrid Jensen is majestic.
Dave Sumner, Wondering Sound, October 29, 2014Terrifically resonant recording from pianist Trudel, who doesn’t seem to be doing anything very complicated, and yet each song is supremely engaging to where it becomes nearly impossible to do anything other than sit back and listen.
Yves Bergeras, Le Droit, October 25, 2014Undulating and soothing, the music on her album doesn’t need a single lyric to resonate powerfully […] Inspiration, sensitivity, and melodies all flow organically from the source.
Élizabeth Gagnon, Radio-Canada — Espace MU, October 12, 2014There are no lyrics, but it sings, it really speaks to us!
Ralph Boncy, Voir, October 1, 2014A musician who is gifted, vivacious and always on her toes […] impressionistic music, soaring, graceful lines full of warmth. A radiant album!
Frédéric Cardin, Radio-Canada — Espace MU, October 1, 2014The engaging pianist […] admirable musician and composer, always inspiring […] offers us a brand new original work. Respect, Marianne. And thank you for this ode to nature, for this beautifully composed music and these flawless soaring lines.
Alain Brunet, La Presse, October 1, 2014This quintet renders us speechless. This is what pianist, composer and improviser Marianne Trudel seems to have done even better in a small ensemble. Jazz that is cohesive, relatively consonant, highly melodic, very harmonically rich. The excellent individual and collective improvisations really complement Marianne Trudel’s mature, accomplished compositions.
This record opens with a short duet between pianist Marianne Trudel and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, a slow mournful number called Question which feels like it is exploring the space between piano and trumpet, before moving on to a lively upbeat number, Deux soleils, which may or may not be the answer.
This quintet certainly have a lot of answers. The CD cover proclaims “featuring Ingrid Jensen”, and whilst she does feature strongly, I think that does a slight disservice to herself and the other players, particularly Jonathan Stewart on saxes. Rather than featured soloist, Jensen is an integral part of the quintet. She and Stewart weave in and out of each other’s lines, producing intricate patterns, sometimes soaring like birds, sometimes growling like caged animals.
Trudel wrote all the tunes, many of which carry an emotional intensity. The writing reminds me of Maria Schneider’s work, albeit on a different, more intimate scale. Jensen has played on several of Schneider’s recordings, including the award-winning Sky Blue, which was the sound that I was reminded of. But for all its north American pedigree, there is also a European sensibility to the music, a mood of the celtic fringes.
Trudel’s solo on Soon builds and builds with a hint of melancholy before releasing us back into the uplifting theme. This track also contains fine solos from bass player Morgan Moore and Jensen. The trumpeter has a warm tone that can envelop one. Jensen and Trudel have another tune to themselves on the evocative and haunting Night Heron.
A fine record from the Canadian pianist and her band. Three Cheers
Pianiste aux idées et dynamo d’un jazz montréalais, Marianne Trudel célèbre sa nomination pour les Junos dans la catégorie jazz. Dans La vie commence ici où elle fait tandem avec la trompettiste Ingrid Jensen, tout est en place pour un grand disque qui juxtapose des couleurs.
Entre le versant moderniste et le courant jazz de chambre, nul besoin d’être un spécialiste de la note bleue pour s’y retrouver. Avec en plus Jonathan Stewart au saxophone, Morgan Moore à la basse et Robbie Kuster à la batterie, un ensemble soudé qui connait le métier et les échanges avec la trompettiste au son soyeux, nous y sommes. Bravo, Marianne!
The three times I’ve seen Marianne Trudel perform in person, she’s radiated rapture. Alert at the piano, she looked possessed by her music, expressions of intent thoughtfulness and unfettered joy alternately crossing her face. It’s important to emphasize: “her music.” Ms. Trudel’s fingers can channel other folks’ notes, but so far her reputation has relied on her own composing.
To sample the distinctive delights of Marianne’s music making, listen to the track “Soon” from her new album La vie commence ici. Despite the heavy tread of drummer Robbie Kuster—otherwise a member of rock band Patrick Watson—“Soon” soars aloft ineluctably. The lyrical main melody Trudel entrusts to trumpet and tenor sax, which hug each other tight throughout the tune. At one point Ingrid Jensen breaks away to dispatch a slithery trumpet solo atop the composer’s muscular piano comping. The second solo comes from Morgan Moore, whose unhurried fingerwork on double bass registers with a woody warmth familiar from his work on Ranee Lee’s recent release on the same label, What’s Going On (Justin Time, 2014). The final solo of the piece finds Trudel originating a rhapsodic tributary of notes, proof of her own improvisational prowess. Saxophonist Jonathan “Bunny” Stewart remains a stalwart team player throughout, thickening textures with his broad calm throatiness. Unfolding decisively with anthemic uplift, “Soon” impacts mission statement-style, like a musical calling card. Here’s a composer, it announces, with her own identifiable sound.
And this is identifiably her album: managing matters from the keyboard, Marianne Trudel’s all over the place—at times soloing, at others supplying connective tissue between players or nudging them towards moments of surprise. Besides leading the band and composing the music, Trudel served as record producer. Production costs were partly covered through a successful Indiegogo crowd funding campaign, and La vie commence ici ultimately surfaced on Montreal’s Justin Time Records.
Three years ago, Montreal’s other mainstream jazz label Effendi Records released Trudel’s truly marvellous album Espoir et autres pouvoirs (2011). As revealed in interviews with Peter Hum and Alayne McGregor, the thirty-seven-year-old French Canadian composer began formal jazz education by writing for big band, and that earlier septet date sounds indebted to the large ensemble writing of acknowledged influence Kenny Wheeler—right down to the use of wordless vocals. La vie commence ici returns to the quintet format of her second record Sands of Time (self-released, 2007) but preserves the great trumpeter/flugelhornist’s influence, with the ensemble disproportionately large-sounding and a trumpet star still in the ranks. For Espoir et autres pouvoirs, Ms. Trudel enlisted Lina Allemano, one of Canada’s most adventurous trumpet wielders and bandleaders. Though a formidable soloist, Allemano acted largely as an integral part of a seven-piece band. (To see the septet in action, watch a promo video and performance footage on YouTube.) This time Trudel has built more improvisational space into her pieces, prompting elaborate solo excursions from another maple leaf virtuoso. Nanaimo-born Ingrid Jensen herself cites Wheeler as an inspiration and contributes trumpet to her sister Christine’s Montreal-based Jazz Orchestra. Marianne Trudel’s compositions share a pervasive joie de vivre with Christine Jensen’s, likewise issued on splendid Effendi and Justin Time discs.
Trudel’s new Justin Time opus opens with the elder Jensen sister in an exposed setting: trumpet in dialogue with piano. The two-minute “Question” breathes the same rarified atmosphere as Ives’ The Unanswered Question and Copland’s Quiet City. Piano keys enact tentative footfalls which the trumpet follows hauntedly, its tone bleached of emotional import. Half the length and halfway through the record, “In the Centre” sounds similar notes of desolate ambivalence. Her horn muted, Jensen splutters, slurs and smears pale colours across this tiny canvas while Trudel summons twangs and canorous clatters from inside the piano. Ninth of ten tracks, the four-minute “Night heron” begins as a similarly elemental snippet, but after a minute and a half of abstract equivocation the duo breaks out a gorgeous Trudelian melody delivered haltingly, mirroring a beauty fleetingly glimpsed.
This third duo foray makes way for the album closer, “Choral.” After a reverently reserved piano progression, Bunny Stewart’s tenor calmly enters like a gentle giant alongside Morgan Moore’s reserved bass. A full-toned trumpet picks up the main theme, the tenor attentively shadowing. Amid exclamations from Kuster’s drums, Moore solos briefly, then Stewart, before Jensen’s horn offers open-throated exclamations of its own. The tune—and the album—tapers to a reposeful close with Trudel and Jensen communing companionably. (An alternate recording of “Choral,” featuring the same quintet, appears on YouTube.)
The album’s other tracks similarly exploit the opulent sonorities of this small ensemble, arranged and recorded to sound room-filling. Recorded and mixed in Montreal by Paul Johnston, the stereo picture positions you right there on the piano stool beside Trudel, registering every detail of her music with keen immediacy. Her own instrument opens “Deux soleils” crisply with Gallic nonchalance, bringing to mind French forebear Fauré. (Marianne studied classical piano until age 16 and has acknowledged the influence of Romantic-era composers on her playing.) The main theme of this piece, taken up joyously by the full group, affirms her knack for making inspired beauty seem offhand, so readily does it come to hand for her.
“Urge” confirms Trudel’s ready access to a melodic wellspring. This piece, on which the sax sits out, starts off quietly with serene piano and muted trumpet. Robbie Kuster sticks to brushes at first, then keeps time on ride cymbal as Marianne unwinds the meditative main theme. As the drumming grows forthright, she turns intense, improvising with increasing vigour and complexity. For the final minute and a half, Trudel treats the tune to down-home gospel chords, Kuster’s distinctive rimshots sealing the deal with calypso-inflected festiveness.
When the sax sits back in, my ears perk up. “Featuring Ingrid Jensen,” the album cover declares, but Jonathan “Bunny” Stewart too contributes invaluably to the six quintet pieces. Familiars from McGill University jazz studies and Banff Centre workshops, Trudel and Stewart have maintained a productive musical partnership stretching back beyond his appearance on Sands of Time. In memory I sometimes revisit a 2008 duo performance by the Quebecois keyboardist and this Kingston, Ontario saxophonist. Before a small Kingston Jazz Festival audience, the pair evinced a special spirit of dialogue, collaborating on each other‘s tunes and improvising empathetically—a musical conversation I felt lucky to be in on. Beyond Trudel’s quintet discs, Stewart’s sax appears to fine effect on the EP Motianless (2012), a collaborative trio tribute to the departed Paul Motian and on the album Times & Places (2013) by the Kingston Jazz Composers Collective.
Life Begins Here, translates Trudel’s album title. On the title track Stewart’s hearty tenor exhalations and Kuster’s depth-charge tom detonations darkly counterpoint the evolutionary process. This the other instruments enact playfully, Trudel applying extended techniques, Jensen unspooling stuttered lines, and Stewart unholstering his other horn. In a pool of electronics and multitracks, wavelets of trumpet and sax overlap as Bunny’s luminous soprano dances with Ingrid’s instrument and his own tenor. “À l’abri”—a grudging anthem, less resolute than ”Soon”—backgrounds bass and drums, reducing them to the barest pulse while piano, trumpet and tenor take comparatively straight-ahead solos. Bunny’s emerges gusty and gutsy against hushed trumpet accompaniment. On the exquisite tone poem “Le vent est une chance” his soprano sax reappears, intonation perfect. Framed by Trudel’s crepuscular musings, Stewart and Jensen playfully trade solos back and forth—two creatures caught cavorting at nightfall.
A couple of things I’ve failed to emphasize: the odd appropriateness of Robbie Kuster’s clamorous drum technique, which superadds buoyancy to innately buoyant compositions; and the absolute perfection of the track sequence, which sustains a palpable non-verbal narrative right across the record. In light of such accomplished unity, let’s consider this whole album a calling card—a signifier of Marianne Trudel’s brilliant presence and promise.
La vie commence ici est un titre qui souligne l’esprit ouvert et chaleureux de la jeune pianiste Marianne Trudel. Délaissant l’expérience en trio de son prédécent projet TRIFOLIA, elle invite la trompettiste canadienne Ingrid Jensen qui vit depuis belle lurette à New York, pour ce nouveau quintette complété par Jonathan Stewart (saxophone ténor et soprano), Morgan Moore (contrebasse) et Robbie Kuster (batterie) qui joue habituellement avec Patrick Watson. Ses 10 compositions vont de la mélancolie (La vie commence ici, Question) à la tension. Marianne Trudel construit pas à pas une œuvre de plus en plus mature et sensible.
An excellent new release from pianist Marianne Trudel. La vie commence ici comes off as being very centered. There’s a calm to the music even when things get a bit heated. Soloists are provided optimal conditions to express their thoughts, and the way in which their solos, more often than not, build on the group vision rather than focus on just their own individual perspective is the element that provides the album its sense of flawless completion. It’s one of those albums that resonates strongly by keeping things simple and honing its focus.
The benefits of trumpeter Ingrid Jensen’s contribution can’t be overstated. On an album that radiates strength from a tightly bundled core, Jensen provides a necessary touch of a Big Sound on many of her solos. Jensen immediately takes to soaring on Soon, the powerful flap of wings a show of force on an album that has an abundance of elegance. That said, Jensen’s trumpet work is in no way detached from the ensemble’s predominant behavior. Deux soleils sees pianist Trudel and bassist Moore skipping along the surface of the tempo’s stream, and Jensen’s playful accompaniment fills right into the confluence of the ensemble’s direction.
Of particular beauty on this recording is the way in which Jensen and saxophonist Stewart add harmonic passages to a strong melodic thrust. It adds a casual ease to moments when a tune is charging straight ahead. There’s also the intrigue from their cryptic conversations added to the brooding intensity of title-track La vie commence ici.
The way in which Urge opens with murmurs and sighs before hitting the gas pedal is particularly enjoyable, especially in how Trudel and drummer Kuster bounce rhythmic ideas off one another as they fly down the road together, side by side. It’s a similar pattern to Le vent est une chance, which also adopts melancholy tones and stately motion as a precursor to a display of feverish volatility, and is in possession of an arresting lyricism at either speed.
The album ends with Choral, reflecting the unassuming beauty and sharp focus that typifies this wonderful album.
Marianne Trudel, La vie commence ici: Terrifically resonant recording from pianist Trudel, who doesn’t seem to be doing anything very complicated, and yet each song is supremely engaging to where it becomes nearly impossible to do anything other than sit back and listen. Modern pieces, but nothing that will scare the old-schoolers off. Most tracks keep to the quiet end of the spectrum, but radiate an energy that gives the songs a big presence. Joining Trudel is trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, saxophonist Jonathan Stewart, bassist Morgan Moore and drummer Robbie Kuster. Outstanding. Pick of the Week.
La pianiste Marianne Trudel a fait appel à une trompettiste de renom, la New-Yorkaise Ingrid Jensen, se glisse à pas feutrés, sourdine en main, au milieu des tableaux évocateurs, de La vie commence ici, sixième opus de la jazzwoman et compositrice québécoise, qui s’exprime cette fois en quintette.
Berçant, son disque n’a pas besoin de la moindre parole pour résonner avec force; on pourra s’en rendre compte samedi soir, au Centre national des arts, où elle vient défendre l’album, accompagnée de Mme Jensen et de ses collaborateurs émérites. Entre elles, se faufilent la contrebasse légère et joueuse, de Morgan Moore; le saxophone enamouré de Jonathan Stewart; et les coups de baguette subtils de Robbie Kuster. Ça ressemble davantage à une longue trame sonore mouvante et «progressive» qu’à une série de pièces bien découpées, mais la technique est sans faille. Et ne cherche à se substituer ni à l’inspiration, ni à la sensibilité, ni aux mélodies, qui coulent de leur source organique.
La Scena Musicale no. 20:4