June 2006

The Bernard Primeau Jazz Ensemble
at the Toronto Jazz Festival
June 24, 2006Main StageToronto
Bernard Primeau's Jazz Ensemble
by David Fujino with photo by Roger Humbert

Bernard Primeau gets right down to it.

He assumed the leadership role and proudly introduced the compositions. He told a story about the rigours of the jazzman's life, then he counted off the time. And at the end, he singled out the soloists for applause.

Those deserving of applause this afternoon were saxophonist Alexander Coté, trumpeter Bill Mahar, and pianist John Roney. They consistently shone as inventive soloists on every tune.

Most of the beautifully orchestrated tunes started off swinging and hard bop-based, then they moved through a couple of mood and tempo changes (tunes like Bill Mahar's "Street Mode" and "Watercolours" were like this), until complete with exhilarating solos, they returned to the initial theme. It was swinging and intelligent music.

Bernard Primeau

But it's the two jazz classics, "Caravan", and "Naima", that received somewhat uncharacteristic and interesting treatments.

At one point, "Caravan" was all antiphonal honks and squeals with a persistently rocking rhythm underneath, while the last bars of the stately John Coltrane ballad, "Naima", were treated in this Alan Penfold arrangement with a near reverent approach to tones and tone colour.

Depending on how 'experimental' you like your jazz, the Primeau ensemble could be 'the' modern jazz group for you — the ensemble swings, the compositions have decent melodies and contrasting sections, everyone's a strong soloist, and the arranging and composing by trumpeter Mahar and composer Alan Penfold is judiciously spiced with dissonance and yearning.

Bernard Primeau calls their music, "modern acoustic jazz".

I say it's very enjoyable.

The Bernard Primeau Jazz Ensemble
Bill Mahar – trumpet
Dave Grott – trombone
Alexander Coté – tenor and soprano saxophones
John Roney – piano
Dave Watts – bass
Bernard Primeau – drums
We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
• • • • • •
Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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