Performing Arts
© Mike Keenan

Remi Bolduc Jazz Ensemble - Swingin' With Oscar at Cairns Recital Hall

Rémi Bolduc Ensemble, photo by Bolduc

Born in Montreal in 1925 in a working-class neighbourhood, Oscar Peterson became one of the most significant pianists in the history of jazz. As an accompanist to singers Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, and as recording artist for Verve Records, appreciation of his talent quickly spread.

Chair of the jazz department at McGill University, Rémi Bolduc, and his Jazz Ensemble recently played a fitting tribute to Canada's renown pianist at Cairns Hall. The Rémi Bolduc Ensemble featured Rémi Bolduc on Alto Saxophone, Taurey Butler on piano, Fraser Hollins on bass and Dave Lain on drums. Butler, as massive a man as was Oscar, was terrific on the piano, his swift fingers keeping pace with Bolduc whose alto sax dominated most pieces. Hollins and Laing enjoyed their moments, and did not disappoint. as a whole, they were well received by an appreciative crowd. I sat beside Laing's sisters and grandmother, and after the last number of the first set, which featured a long riff by the drummer, a sister asked out loud, "How is he doing, granny?" And granny replied, "He keeps getting better!" That, I suppose, is an ideal for all of us to follow.

Rémi Bolduc Bolduc on Laurentide Waltz

Rémi told the audience that he wanted to celebrate Canada's international star and he set about to study 82 of Peterson's works which took him 8 weeks to whittled down to the 10 for the show that he thought reflected Oscar's breadth and depth. Place St-Henri is a tribute by Peterson to where he lived in Montréal as a youth and Rémi included Laurentide Waltz as another Québécois favourite. Rémi started the evening with Noreen's Nocturne, moving to Bossa Begine. The quartet featured a wide range of music including For Count in the first set and then I Never Been In Love Before, and in the second set, Cakewalk, Samba Sensitive and Blues Riff.

Just before The Touch of Your Lips, the last number, Rémi expressed his thanks to FirstOntario's Sara Palmieri for the booking and his pleasant surprise at such a large appreciative audience in a new venue for this touring group. Unfortunately, as he was speaking, the fire alarm sounded and all of the lights in Cairns Hall turned back on. The St. Catharines fire department responded in minutes, but it was a shame that the wonderful performance was interrupted in this fashion.

Fraser Hollins, began his musical studies at Ottawa University and went on to hone his craft in Montreal at Concordia. He lives in Montréal, where he teaches at McGill University.

David Laing was born in Kitchener. He studied at McGill University and began his professional career shortly thereafter. He also teaches at McGill.

Talented guest pianist Taurey Butler is pianist of the highest calibre. He was born in New Jersey, and now lives in Montreal.

What the group learned was that St. Catharines is prepared to support jazz. What we learned was that Rémi Bolduc who plays on a Selmer saxophone, is considered one of the best jazz alto saxophonist in Canada. His magnetic playing style and lively stage presence combine to create a lasting impression.

Rémi Bolduc Ensemble, photo by Bolduc Rémi Bolduc on sax, photo by Bolduc Rémi Bolduc,  photo by PAC

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