Eliane Elias enjoys a reputation as a musician who can swing as convincingly as she can samba, and she did not disappoint the crowd who filled Montreal’s Monument National for what was, by her count, her tenth appearance at the jazz festival. Originally from Sao Paolo, Elias was only 17 years old when legendary Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim discovered her playing in a local club and immediately invited her to join his international tour. Last year, Elias returned to Brazil to record her latest album, aptly named Made in Brazil, which pays tribute to the Brazilian songbook of which Jobim was the lead exponent.
Prolific trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas was the proud father introducing his brand new baby to Montreal fans at le club l’Astral Tuesday, June 30. His new venture, High Risk, featured Detroit-based electronic musician/producer Shigeto (of Ghostly International) and NYC scene favourites Jonathan Maron and Mark Guiliana on electric bass and drums. The group combined electronic music with jazz improvisation, building on concepts established by Douglas' "Keystone" sextet and played compositions from their self-titled album, released on June 23.
Black rimmed Ray Bans and a 10pm hit set the atmosphere as Ben Williams steps onto the bandstand. He picks up his bass and pauses. After a moment of silent conversation, he raises his head and begins to play.
Phrases bubble over the moments between moments, but the presence of pulse is deliberate. Each player embraces a collective exploration that has become a distinctive part of the band’s identity, but wherever they chase the harmony, they follow the same lead.
“It’s kind of the DNA of my music,” says Williams. “As a bass player, that's kind of the world I live in- the groove.”
In January of 1999, Medeski, Martin, and Wood held a series of five shows at the Bowery Ballroom with a number of guests featured at each show. The shows were held as part of Blue Note’s 60th anniversary, as MMW had recently signed to the label and released their Combustication album. (For kicks, go ahead and compare Blue Note at 60 with Blue Note at 75 from last year.) There are many highlights from this set of five shows, but I recently re-listened to the January 16th recordings and was much impressed with "Scrontch Meister," a Bob Moses-penned tune that the trio played only during this run as far as I can find and whose title probably provokes either a love or hate reaction - well, you’ll probably want to check out the music either way. While the Bowery shows featured many guests, this tune is just John Medeski on keys, Billy Martin on drums, and Chris Wood on bass, playing a really great version of their groove-heavy jazz on a catchy tune that deserves a re-visit. Audio courtesy of The Shack Project, which has the whole January 16th show (and plenty of other live MMW) streaming here. (Stick with them for the nice improv that follows "Scrontch Meister" featuring Oren Bloedow on guitar.)
It's hard to believe June 30th, 2015 was Snarky Puppy's first time performing at the Montreal Jazz Festival; they filled the 2300-capacity Métropolis Theatre like a veteran act. That's not to say that Snarky Puppy hasn't been around for a while (they formed in 2004) or that they haven't performed in Montreal before (they have, several times), but after winning a Grammy in 2014, the collective seems to be just hitting their stride. Their Montreal show was their 20th concert in 21 days, and the final stop of their North American tour.