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Chet Doxas Quartet at the Montreal Jazz Festival (review)

Chet Doxas ©Brett Delmage, 2012

Chet Doxas Quartet
Montreal Jazz Festival, CBC Stage (outdoor)
Thursday, July 5, 2012 – 10 p.m.

View photos of this show

This concert featured two Montrealers: saxophonist Chet Doxas and guitarist Benoit Charest, who had teamed up on Doxas' second album, Big Sky [Justin Time, 2010]. The two had first collaborated in the studio on Charest's Oscar-nominated soundtrack for the animated feature, Les Triplettes de Belleville, and have continued to play together regularly since.

It was billed by the festival as a presentation of Big Sky, but didn't include any of the tracks on the album, and the other two members of the quartet changed: to drummer John Fraboni and organist Dan Thouin.

No matter. It was fine music.

What the audience heard was a high-energy sound, more on the fusion side (no surprise given the organ and guitar). It was a diverse selection of less-well-known jazz classics, starting with Gil Evans' “Time of the Barracudas”. That piece was muscular and multi-layered, featuring long lines on both sax and guitar and fast organ work.

Thouin (whom Ottawa audiences heard in July, 2010, in a performance with Roddy Ellias, Kirk MacDonald, and Fraboni) used his organ to provide a strong counterweight to Doxas' tenor. He plays a Nord, a much lighter Swedish version of a Hammond B3, combined with a proper Lesley speaker to get a punchy, vibrating sound.

This was particularly evident on Doxas' “Old Church, New Paint”, where Thouin opened the piece with an emphatic gospel sound – as though preparing for a fire-and-brimstone sermon. That feeling continued as Doxas took over on saxophone; it was as though there was an invisible choir behind him. With Charest then chiming in on guitar, the combination was like an old-time hymn, with extra verve.

Fraboni contributed propulsive drumming throughout, but was especially assertive and clear on “Backup” by Larry Young, a swinging piece with a deep blues undertone. The group closed out with “Exits And Flags” by Brazilian composer Milton Nascimento, in which everyone played fast, complicated patterns which all somehow fit together.

Set list:

  • Time of the Barracudas (Gil Evans)
  • Angelica (Duke Ellington)
  • Old Church, New Paint (Chet Doxas)
  • Backup (Larry Young)
  • Exits And Flags (Milton Nascimento)

    – Alayne McGregor

See also:

All images ©Brett Delmage, 2012
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