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The Emie R. Roussel Trio balances melody and groove in a happy Festival Desjardins show

Emie R. Roussel (piano) and Sébastien Pellerin (bass) easily commanded the attention of the audience at le Festival de Jazz Desjardins ©Brett Delmage, 2015Emie R. Roussel Trio
Festival de Jazz Desjardins
Parc de l'Imaginaire, Gatineau (Aylmer)
Thursday, July 30, 2015

Quebec jazz pianist Emie R. Roussel attracted an attentive audience and a standing ovation for her 75-minute show in Parc de l'Imaginaire in Aylmer Thursday. Her free concert was the second in this year's Festival de Jazz Desjardins, which runs until Saturday.

Together with her trio, Roussel performed originals, mostly from her 2015 album, Quantum, plus some from her previous CD, Transit. That 2013 CD featured the trio in dramatic conversation with a string quartet, while Quantum added more groove and R&B colours to classic piano jazz.

It was much the same material as Roussel played in her National Arts Centre debut in April. However, to my mind, the music was better integrated in this show, the groove underlining but not overwhelming the more delicate, introspective moments.

“Funambule” (Tightrope Walker) showed the more romantic, dramatic side of the trio, with an emphatic double bass solo from Sébastien Pellerin, and ringing keyboard lines. It received strong applause. On the other hand, drummer Dominic Cloutier introduced “Club” with a strong rat-a-tat drum solo which grew in complexity and intensity. Joined by Pellerin's electric bass and Roussel's Fender Rhodes-like keyboards, that piece strongly reminded me of 70s organ trio music, with a touch of funk – a cheery and crowd-pleasing number.

The trio closed with “Ipomée”, which combined both tendencies: a smooth, grooving opening, followed by bright and thoughtful keyboards underlined by barely-there drums. Then the trio played full out, having fun playing variations on bright, fluid melody, before ending with a last flourish.

The audience, which ranged from youngsters to seniors and filled most of the small park, rose from their lawn-chairs and gave the trio a standing ovation.

The Festival de Jazz Desjardins continues tonight with the Trio Jérôme Beaulieu from Montreal, and on Saturday with Ottawa's The Chocolate Hot Pockets.

   – Alayne McGregor

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