Pianist and composer Lorraine Desmarais is known in Canada, the USA, Europe, Mexico, China, Indonesia, and Africa for her solo, trio and big band performances. She has also appeared with many symphony [...]
They spoke about it
This is no ordinary disc. More than anything, it’s a very special a reunion with Tiger Okoshi. And Michel Cusson also appears for a few tunes, making it a truly memorable meeting of five musicians from very different musical worlds, on stage together for the first time. I first had the pleasure of sharing my music with Tiger a few years ago during a tour of Canadian jazz festivals. And while he was with UZEB, Michel also experienced some high-voltage moments with Tiger.
There was magic in the air that evening, an amazing sense of complicity and enthusiasm that spilled over and literally lifted the audience to their feet. In offering this exceptional concert, I dearly hope that listening to it will give you a taste of this unique and unforgettable moment.
Kagome Kagome: A traditional Japanese song that transports us to the heart of the Orient. The piece has a wonderful interplay of colours and textures, which Tiger and the trio give a highly original interpretation.
A soul version of the legendary St. Louis Blues, with Michel Cusson’s guitar lending incredible intensity, an “uplifting” piano solo, and a swinging blues by Tiger that emerges out of a duet with the bass.
Yesterdays: An elegant duet between Lorraine and Tiger that shows off both their extraordinary complicity and their incredible virtuosity.
Eldorado: Time to breathe! The music speaks for itself. An expressive piano line starts the story, followed by an eloquent trumpet solo, and a finally a melodious contribution by the bass.
Wings, We All Have: Both intense and audacious at times. Tiger’s solo dramatically develops the main theme, while the bass adds its voice to the conversation, and then the piano and the drums. Here, Camil’s playing is powerful, rhythmical and creative.
Bluesy Busy Lovers: A piano solo gently leads into one of the trio’s favourite tunes. The “live” version of this lively blues tune reflects the progressive playing of performers with exceptional maturity.
Omerta: This Michel Cusson tune is the theme of a TV series for which he composed the music, and this jazz version does everyone justice: modern piano solo, mysterious trumpet playing, and a very “cool” guitar solo.
Thank you Tiger, Michel, Frédéric and Camil.
LORRAINE DESMARAIS MEETS TIGER OKOSHI AT CLUB SODA.
An evening with Lorraine Desmarais is always an interesting musical experience – a combination of her playing and compositional abilities. I first came across this blooming major talent when she sat in at George Durst’s “Biddles” and caused the club’s pianist Oliver Jones to “threaten” to break her fingers. Another 20 odd year old memory was my daughter Nina’s 18th birthday when Lorraine and the late Stan Patrick played some four handed blues only to be topped by some eight handed boogie woogie with those two joined by Art Roberts and Cisco Normand.
My awareness of the trumpet playing talent of Toru “Tiger” Okoshi began in the late 70s with an lp called “Times Square” by a Gary Burton Quartet which had Tiger joining a combo of Steve Swallow and Roy Haynes, an impression that was reinforced when the same quartet played El Casino in Montreal and I got to meet Tiger for the first time.
Lorraine was born in Montreal and among those that helped nurture her natural talent were Armas (Art) Maiste, a wonderful pianist (who I met just days after his arrival in Canada back in the 50s) and Kenny Barron. She was, by 1983, being heard with her own trios and became a regular attraction at events that included the Montreal International Jazz Festival, one in Zurich, the Jacksonville Piano competition (which she won back in 1986). Two years later she made an appearance here with Tiger and with Paquito D’Rivera in Rimouski. Then the world called and she was heard in Indonesia, the Philippines, France and the U.S. where she played the Blue Note and guested on Marian McPartland’s “Piano Jazz” radio show. There were also a couple of memorable meetings with Joanne Brackeen – the second one adding Mimi Blais to the mix. Even more recently it was a guest spot with Chick Corea. The late dean of American jazz writers, Leonard Feather stated that “she seems likely to cross many national boundaries. Not since Oscar Peterson dazzled us in Carnegie Hall in 1949, has an artist from north of the border made such a powerful impression on me”. Alain Brunet of Montreal’s La Presse has likened her to “an active volcano”. Besides an impressive series of recordings here in Canada, she’s also played and recorded with Sherrie Maricle’s all-woman band “Diva” and with “Five Play”, a quintet from that band. Of late Lorraine has also been showcasing her compositions with her own big band.
Tiger was born in Japan and began to be heard and recorded in the late 70s while a student at Berklee College in Boston where he was played with people like Paul Moen and guitarist Baird Lancaster prior to joining Gary Burton. Recordings have included sessions with Larry Gelb and Kim Parker, Dave Grusin, Bobby Moses, Lew Tabackin, Gunther Schuller and Jerry Bergonzi as well as his own groups, including “Baku”, beginning in 1980. He now splits his time between playing and teaching duties at Berklee as well as working with autistic children at the Boston Higashi School. He and Lorraine have developed a strong musical relationship and this is their second recording together. He’s developed into one of my favourite trumpeters.
Aiding and abetting here are Lorraine’s regular trio associates, bassist Frederic Alarie and drummer Camil Belisle. I was first impressed with a young Alarie when he played a jam session at “T.C.s” with vocalist Jackie Johnson, Count Basie sideman Danny Turner and B.T. Lundy. He grown into a first class bassist heard here recently with the likes of Sheila Jordan. He’s on record with Yannick Rieu, Bernard Primeau (and Ray Anderson), as well as couple with Dan Noseworhty and one as a member of the “Effendi Jazz Lab” band. Besides previous sessions with Lorraine, he’s recorded “Vision”, “Contact”, “Motion”, “Live a Vienne”, “Moon Bass” and “Tap Bass” as a leader.
Belisle, one of the city’s tastiest drummer is a regular with Lorraine and in singer’s Dorothee Berryman’s group. He’s recorded as far back as 1982 when he did a wonderful session with pianist Steve Holt with Bob Mover, Steve Hall, Charles Ellison and Michel Donato in different combinations as well a sessions with vocalist Johnny Scott and both Alarie and Ms. Berryman.
Guitarist Michel Cusson, who is a guest here, is best known for his work with the band UZEB and for his compositional skills. He’s recorded his own session “Omerta” and is on UZEB sessions that have included Michael Brecker, Didier Lockwood and Don Alias – he also on Lorraine’s 1991 recording “Vision”.
The music that night at Club Soda included a wonderful duet on Jerome Kern’s “Yesterdays’, Cusson’s “Omerta”, Tiger’s “Wings We All Have” plus his arrangements of “St. Louis Blues” and a traditional Japanese piece “Kagome Kagome” and two by Lorraine “Eldorado” and a return to “Bluesy Busy Lovers” from her earlier release “Love”.
Lorraine, thanks for all the music over the years and for, again, asking me to contribute the notes to an important recording. This one’s another feather in your chapeau. My personal thanks also go out to Bill W.
© Len Dobbin, 2006