Each week, OttawaJazzScene.ca recommends a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau from our comprehensive Jazz Bulletins. There's a lot of wonderful jazz being presented, so it's often a difficult choice.

J.P. Allain and Nicole Ratté ©Brett Delmage, 2012
Vocalist Nicole Ratté praised pianist J.P.Allain for his understanding of Michel Legrand's style at her previous tribute concert to Legrand in 2017. ©Brett Delmage, 2017

Saturday, November 17, 2018 - Nicole Ratté Jazz Quintet: Tribute to Michel Legrand at La Grange de la Gatineau

On his website, French composer Michel Legrand says that he puts “a great deal of faith in melody. … Nadia Boulanger always said: 'Put whatever you want above and below the melody but, whatever happens, it’s the melody that counts.' For example, modern music tends to bore me now. It does of course contain innovative rhythmic and contrapuntal devices but, without melody, its lifeblood, it is lifeless and this helps to dehumanize it. For my part, melody is a mistress to whom I’ll always be faithful.”

Legrand has carried forth this commitment in producing some of the most beautiful melodies of the 20th century. He has written classic tunes including “The Windmills of Your Mind”, “I Will Wait For You”, “Sea and Sky”, and “You Must Believe in Spring” – songs which were touchstones of film scores and which have become jazz standards. He's written hundreds of songs, recorded more than a hundred albums, and produced over 200 film and television scores. He's won three Oscars, five Grammy Awards, and won or been nominated for dozens of others.

For Ottawa jazz vocalist Nicole Ratté, Legrand is one of her very favourite composers. She performed a tribute concert to him in 2017 at Les Brasseurs du Temps. It was a “un coup de foudre” (love at first listen) for the audience, who applauded strongly from the first song onwards. (View photos of the performance)

Accompanied by Jean-Pierre Allain on piano and Normand Glaude on double bass and harmonica, she sang alternately in English and French and scatted a few lines. The music ranged from gently swinging numbers to sambas to torch songs to wistful ballads. It was a polished and well-researched concert, with some surprises: lesser-known Legrand numbers, new arrangements, and songs with well-known English lyrics sung in French.

At that show, Ratté said, “I'm not finished with this project yet!” And now she's brought it back, for a quintet show in the warm log cabin ambiance of La Grange de la Gatineau. La Grange is located in Cantley on the north-west outskirts of Gatineau, right by the Gatineau River and under half an hour's drive from downtown Ottawa.

For this show she has expanded her group to include two more well-known Ottawa jazz musicians: drummer Mike Essoudry and saxophonist Brian Asselin. She promises to introduce the audience to the “beautiful little jewels of songs” which Legrand wrote, “in a variety of emotions and atmospheres” and with a touch of humour.

Ratté has sung and taught vocal jazz for more than a decade in Ottawa and Gatineau, performing everywhere from intimate clubs to festival stages. Her repertoire includes a wide variety of songs in both French and English, but in particular exploring French and Quebec jazz tunes. She performs with a smile in her voice and makes a point of talking about the songs to her audience.

Read our story about her previous show: Michel Legrand, in 17 songs, engages festival audience

The Nicole Ratté Quintet will perform a tribute to Michel Legrand on Saturday, November 17, at 8 p.m. at La Grange de la Gatineau. Tickets are $25 plus tax for the show only or $62 +tax and tip for dinner and the show (dinner is served at 6:30 p.m.). To reserve, phone 819-827-3164, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or pay via PayPal at www.grange.ca.

La Grange de la Gatineau is located at 80 chemin Summer, in Cantley, QC, on the northern outskirts of Gatineau, Quebec. You can drive there via autoroutes 5 or 50 from downtown Gatineau.

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