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L’Off Festival de Jazz de Montréal: Jean René & Et Quart

Mark Chodan, La Scena Musicale, December 2, 2011

Montréal’s creative music scene is not exactly a hotbed for violists, or anywhere else for that matter. Fortunately, we have Jean René as the local representative of this underrepresented string instrument. Jean René is best known for his contributions to projects led by René Lussier, Michel F Côté and Jean Derome. René performed for the second consecutive Off fest with his quartet Et Quart, featuring Joshua Zubot (violin), Nicolas Caloia (bass) and Pierre Tanguay (drums) at the Casa del Popolo. The quartet performed a mix of René’s own compositions, several from his latest solo viola release Fammi (&records) as well as others’. The quartet performance was easily as quirky as the studio solo album. Note that unlike the studio solo recording, René did not appear to make use of any electronic manipulations to his viola in live performance. The ensemble sounded very well integrated and thoroughly absorbed in René’s sound world. Very pleasing to the ear was the relationship of Zubot’s crystalline tone versus René’s very wooly viola tone, all against a backdrop of Caloia and Tanguay’s foundation. The performance was mainly about the compositions, but left room for the musicians to improvise, and in Zubot’s case, replete with a tremendous display of virtuosity. This is a group that needs to be recorded.

This is a group that needs to be recorded.