September 2006

Sylvie Courvoisier & Mark Feldman
at the Guelph Jazz Festival
September 10, 2006Guelph Youth Music Centre Guelph
Meeting Point
by Tom Sekowski
Is stressing the importance of a duo that happens to be a husband and wife a good thing or not? Did it matter that Swiss pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and American violinist Mark Feldman are husband and wife or should we drop the whole issue? Does marriage hinder their musical relationship or does it enrich it? From what we saw on stage during the early Sunday morning hours at the Guelph Youth Music Centre, the answer seems to be — who cares! To be honest, I couldn’t care less if Sylvie and Mark were each other’s worst enemies. What matters is the music the duo creates as a whole — the music that is meant to enrich our dull lives with a pinch of excitement.

What grabbed my attention right off the mark was the fact how closely attuned these two were to each other’s musical sensibilities. For those unfamiliar with Sylvie’s piano artistry, let’s say she plays with the force (though not the style) of someone like Cecil Taylor, though she has the agility to dive into melodic and even poetic passages not unlike those of Ran Blake. Through the hour-long concert (they were apparently rushing to the airport), the two blasted melodies and rough improvised passages, all of which were accentuated with each other’s unique technique and a sense of style.

At the start, Sylvie was careening her way through the keys in front of her. Then, during the middle of the piece, she would get up and stroke the strings inside the piano. Following this, she would tap the sides of the instrument and in the end; she went back to striking the keys. You could tell she was concentrating on the task at hand and paid little attention to the world around her, except for Mark that is. The violinist took up the leadership role for most of the show. While he played intricate passages, Sylvie would answer in turn with counter-attack of her own. The melodies originating from Mark’s violin were full of life, zest and unpredictability. He played everything with great force and was able to deliver his message loud and clear. Even during the solos, Sylvie wouldn’t leave the speed or force of her delivery alone.
Mark Feldman
Some sat there wondering if this was truly jazz, while others accepted this for what is was — a meeting point between chamber and improvised music. At times, this was a race of two musicians trying to outwit each other but at their best moments, they were equal partners, who know there’s something more to this than simple competition. This performance was about the strength each one gave and took from the other. A magical experience that allowed each one to truly communicate as a unified musical body.
> >
We welcome your comments and feedback
Tom Sekowski
• • • • • •
The Live Music Report
• •
Please contact us to secure permission for use of any material found on this website.
© The Live Music Report – 2006