Launching the 10th edition of the Suoni per il Popolo festival with his latest masterwork, Michel F Côté celebrates over 50 records in 25 years. Drummer, studio wizard, Ambiances Magnétiques and & Records founder, and instigator of more happening art than anyone could know, MFC brings another dream to life with pure imagination, desire, poetry and feeling. A bright jewel in a cool stream. 9/10
Swift, skillful, imaginative, efficient. The music that Steve Lacy wrote is like this, and so are the players in the Rent, a Toronto quintet led by trombonist Scott Thomson. On their first disc, the band is all this and also exuberant, precise and swinging. They’ve discovered a way into a house full of air and light, and it’s delightful to hear how thoroughly they explore and enjoy the situation. 9/10
Lots of balls and promise on this first release by Montréal trumpeter Philippe Battikha’s shredding power trio. Lots of insistence too, good and bad. A unified conception and tireless devotion to repetition of simple materials serve well. A minus is the monochromatic approach to trumpet sound. Played mostly like an overdriven electric guitar, we miss the revealing sound of the open horn. An intriguing engagement between the tender and the ferocious. 7/10
What do you get when you lock up two creative geniuses in a cabin for a couple days with a viola da gamba, saxophones, a bass clarinet, some radios and two-inch speakers? A beautiful and weird sudoku puzzle for the psyche. This CD shows us how these guys give Montréal a well-deserved rep around the globe as a locus for creative music. The only thing better is hearing them live. (9/10)
Following the success of his 50-piece orchestra at this summer’s Off Jazz Fest, Labbé gives us Manivelle, his best record to date. His quartet brings subtlety and muscle where they are due, flying high on nine great compositions ranging from snaky rhythmic workouts to airy ballads. It’s a treat to hear such a fully realized work from one of the city’s underappreciated creative forces.
Vulgarités is a work of alchemy, an irreverent and mysterious record unfolding on its own terms. Côté and Ceccarelli lure us inside their creepy laboratory, stirring a potion of drums, piano, lap steel and demented trumpet infused with haunted electronic treatment and a taste of cryptic feedback. The experience moves from rambunctious to ambient, guided by a wry and vulgar sense of humour.