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Concert Review: Marianne Trudel and Trifolia
(2013 Halifax Jazz Festival)

Posted in music

Marianne Trudel and Trifolia
Tue-9-Jul-2013 • The Peggy Corkum Music Room • Halifax Jazz Festival (link)

Marianne Trudel, piano, accordion and voice; Étienne LaFrance, acoustic bass; Patrick Graham, drums, percussion and cymbals.

Early in Marianne Trudel’s performance, she made an offhand comment that “her band doesn’t play jazz.” This made me realize that I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how to identify whether the music you’re hearing is indeed “jazz.” It’s not always a simple question to answer. Although last night, I learned that it might not be a question that needs to be asked.

At its heart, Trudel’s music is a poignant expression of nature—that is to say, the natural world outside a building’s walls and away from paved surfaces. Her music is rendered in lush tonal textures and rich harmonies, using the well-known sounds of the acoustic piano trio to create multi-coloured musical paintings in a completely original style. True, the underlying structures of her compositions still contain the familiar-sounding harmonic and rhythmic elements of straight-ahead jazz. But the way she assembles those elements is utterly unique; she draws her listeners very deep into her musical story.

This trio is indeed an integrated, whole group. They don’t just run through tunes, pass around solos, or trade with the drums. Each song Trifolia plays is a piece of truly collaborative musical expression. To my delight, it was also evident that each member was fully absorbed: they responded immediately and tastefully to whatever was unfolding at that very moment, at all times.

It’s perhaps that last bit that makes me feel that Trifolia represents the best of what jazz has to offer: totally spontaneous, improvised interplay between performers which yields a musical result that connects authentically with its audience. It’s music that makes you feel something when you hear it played live. And in Marianne Trudel’s case, it’s music that invites you to stop, look inward, and feel grateful that you are there at that moment to experience it.

After her show, I found it difficult to express my appreciation to her. With any luck, this will not be her last performance at our festival.

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