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Artistes Mike Chamberlain

Mike Chamberlain

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Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville 2016, Part 1

Mike Chamberlain, All About Jazz, 24 mai 2016

The 32nd edition of the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville began with a performance of new compositions by Norwegian guitarist / composer Kim Myhr with Montréal’s Quatour Bozzini in the town’s new cultural space, Carré 150, an impressive $28 million structure that stands on the site of the former Cinema Laurier, one of the performance homes for the festival for many years.

If we’re looking for themes, the first two days’ concerts featured the human voice and by extension, the notion of breathing and the breath mechanism. Both the Bozzini / Myhr ensemble and the Julie Tippetts / Martin Archer Ensemble that followed included vocalists who incorporated poetry and song into the performances. The music of Bozzini and Myhr, who did two pieces, one by Christian Wolff and the other by Myhr, was spare and slow-moving, but insistent and hypnotic, with Angell reciting the poetry of the British poet Caroline Bergvall. The following performance, the Montréal-based vocalist Erika Tippetts / Archer group was performing live for the first time ever, despite the fact that they have been making music in the studio for a decade and a half. Their music is very much in the prog- rock sphere, with elements of the blues, a big bass sound and electric keyboards underpinning the group sound and providing a strong foundation for Tippetts’ soaring voice. (…)

The three performances on Friday evening all featured Quebec and Canadian musicians. Electric bassist / composer / educator Eric Normand lives in the small town of Rimouski, Quebec, where he leads a group called GGRIL, comprised mainly of amateur musicians from the Rimouski area. In starting GGRIL a few years ago, Normand has created an enormously important community music project that is reinvigorating the improvised music scene in Quebec. GGRIL were joined at Victo by veteran Montréalers Jean Derome and Joane Hetu and Ensemble SuperMusique, for an improvisation conducted by French guitarist / composer / improviser Olivier Benoit. There was no vocalist; it was the music itself that breathed and vibrated to the rhythm of the breath and beating of the heart. Benoit’s choice of moves for the musicians was impeccable, as the hour-long piece built up slowly to two climaxes, the tension palpable throughout. This was easily the best improvisation by a large Quebec ensemble heard here in many years. (…)

This was easily the best improvisation by a large Quebec ensemble heard here in many years.


Mike Chamberlain, Musicworks, no 117, 1 décembre 2013

These two CDs, recently released on Eric Normand’s Tour de Bras imprint, have in common the trumpet of Elwood Epps and the drums of Michel F Côté, both players dynamic forces on Montréal’s improvised and musique actuelle scenes. Côté’s work, both as a composer and drummer, is always playful—he never saw a groove he didn’t want to mess with. Epps has been ubiquitous on the Montréal scene since arriving from Guelph about six or seven years back, and his playing, emphasizing breath control and dynamic subtleties, becomes stronger all the time.

(…) The current iteration of Mecha Fixes Clocks, one of Côté’s many ongoing projects, consists of Philippe Lauzier (alto sax, bass clarinet), Epps (trumpet), Jean René (alto violin), Pierre-Yves Martel (viola da gamba, feedback), Bernard Falaise (guitar), Guillaume Dostaler (piano), and Côté (drums, feedback, and microphones).

Recorded at Côté’s preferred studio, Montréal’s Studio 270, Beau comme un aéroport is a suite of songs, the titles of which allude to air travel (se maintenir en l’air coûte que coûte, turbulence du dimanche, au terme de l’ascension, petite perte d’altitude). We do not normally think of airports as beautiful, however, and the music does not seem strictly programmatic, but one can find musical analogues with air travel if one chooses to do so. The middle section of Turbulence du dimanche, a rather tranquil piece, is dominated by a line of long notes from Epps, and Côté clattering on toms. (Perhaps Sundays are known for having very little turbulence.) Atlas des brumes has an African feel to the beat, bass droning underneath, trumpet line of long, purely played notes, Dostaler vamping sparely. Tour des anges begins with Epps and Dostaler playing solo lines before Côté enters with a splash of cymbal followed by a rising burst of feedback, which, with Dostaler’s offbeat phrasing, creates a sense of impending doom. Egalité de la résistance des ailes has a gamelan-feel built around Martel’s viola da gamba and Lauzier’s alto, a polyrhythmic play. Sur le siège d’a côté 22F has Epps blowing air through his trumpet to simulate snoring. Ostinato aierienne is a gentle, peaceful ending, which one wishes all flights to have.

Côté’s work, both as a composer and drummer, is always playful — he never saw a groove he didn’t want to mess with.


Mike Chamberlain, Hour, 31 mars 2011

I’ve had this release by Pink Saliva sitting around since last fall. Every once in a while it rises to the top of the pile, where it inevitably stays for a few days, a most pleasing and ear-tickling set of pieces, electronically and acoustically mysterious and foreboding. With Michel F Côté’s skittering drums, bent and fractured long tones from the trumpet of Ellwood Epps, and trickster bassist Alexandre St-Onge cooking up something underneath on laptop, there’s depth here, darkness, delivered with a wink and a grin. 4/5

… a most pleasing and ear-tickling set of pieces, electronically and acoustically mysterious and foreboding.

Suoni per il Popolo: Outside Music Incoming

Mike Chamberlain, Hour, 3 juin 2010

Casa del Popolo is once again ground zero for unique Suoni Per Il Popolo music festival.

Drummer and composer Michel F Côté is the custodian of the & label, a small imprint-cum-art project that is launching new CDs by the group Mecha Fixes Clocks and alto violinist Jean René to kick off the 10th Suoni Per Il Popolo festival on June 6. Côté agrees that the story of outside music in Montréal can fairly be divided into the era before Mauro Pezzente and Kiva Stimac opened the Casa del Popolo in 2000 and the era since then. “Before that, there was no real venue for improv music or for all sorts of avant garde,” Côté explains, “and when the Casa started, it was real good news. You could just hang out, and it was always fantastic music. Nobody else in Montréal is doing what they do.”

With its eclectic booking policy, the Casa, and later La Sala Rossa, have nurtured audiences knowledgeable about all kinds of outside music, from free jazz and electronic music to avant rock, folk, spoken word, cabaret and multimedia performances. Every year in June, Pezzente and Stimac give themselves a gift by booking a special series of concerts. They might regard the Suoni as their own reward, but as has been the case since the Casa opened its doors, it is the Montréal audience who benefits. As usual, this year’s Suoni Per Il Popolo festival is very strong on free jazz, including the first-ever Canadian performance by the legendary Globe Unity Orchestra, an ensemble founded by pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach in 1965. Concerts of musicians within the orchestra — the quartets of Evan Parker and Henrik Walsdorff and the Alexander von Schlippenbach Trio — will bookend the GUO’s June 20 date at Sala Rossa. And in addition to performing, Suoni regular Ken Vandermark will present an open rehearsal/workshop with the other members of the Vandermark 5 on June 16, and pianist Matthew Shipp will give a workshop on the processes of improvisation on June 15. Other performances in this series include Vandermark’s Frame Quartet, the trio of Kidd Jordan, William Parker and Hamid Drake, and Dutch cornetist Eric Boeren’s quartet. There’s an impressive electronic series that includes appearances by the likes of Didi Bruckmayr, Radian, Christof Kurzmann and Emeralds, and the avant rock scene is represented by Xeno and Oaklander, Oneida, Hair Police, Carlos Giffoni and the shamanistic collective No Neck Blues Band. It’s a very exciting lineup that reflects the ethos of being smart, inventive, adventurous and community friendly.

Doing more with less, Pezzente and Stimac are an example that all music presenters could emulate.

It’s a very exciting lineup that reflects the ethos of being smart, inventive, adventurous and community friendly.

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