The Carl Mayotte Fusion Quintette makes its Ontario debut on Friday, November 30, in the Live @ Record Runner series.The Montreal bassist and composer enthusiastically incorporates jazz, rock, funk and world beat into his original compositions. They'll perform "my compositions, and 2-3 arrangements of jazz fusion classics (Weather Report, Chick Corea), just to do a tribute to the music I like in this style," Mayotte told OttawaJazzScene.ca.

Carl Mayotte - original photo by Sébastien Veilleux
Carl Mayotte - original photo by Sébastien Veilleux

OttawaJazzScene.ca conducted a written interview with Mayotte. The interview has been edited for clarity and style.

OttawaJazzScene.ca: What attracts you to jazz fusion?

Carl Mayotte: My father was listening to progressive rock so I really loved this music early on. That led me to jazz fusion when I was 13-14 years old, especially because electric bass has such a great place in this music. The virtuosity of the musicians in this style always kept my attention very high. But for now, what I like of this genre is the infinite variety of other genres that you can combine in it. There are literally no boundaries. For a musician and a composer, it's a world full of freedom. I love too that it has to groove and that can make people listening to it dance sometimes.

OttawaJazzScene.ca: What are your jazz influences or other non-influences that may be known to jazz audiences?

Carl Mayotte: I have too many influences, hahaha, but for this Fusion project naturally my influences are Weather Report, UZEB, Return to Forever, and certainly all the progressive rock scene, especially King Crimson and Frank Zappa. But in general, some of my main influences for the bass are Jaco Pastorius for the spirit, Steve Swallow for the melodies, Richard Bona for the energy, and Alain Caron [UZEB’s bassist] for the sound. These day I listen a lot to some Japanese city pop music, a lot to Francis Poulenc, and a bit to 60'S Miles Davis.

Alain Caron influenced me A LOT. First, he is a Quebecer so I really loved him for that when I was a teenager. I have transcribed him a lot too, and love the fact that even if he was so good at the beginning of UZEB, he still evolved and progressed from Jaco-like to his original sound and technique. His fretless playing has had a big impact on mine. I'm working presently with Michel Cusson, the guitarist of UZEB, for my first album.

OttawaJazzScene.ca: How long have you and the other quintet members played together? How did you select the instrumentation and/or musicians for this group?

Carl Mayotte: I have been playing with the musicians in this quintet for about 1 year, and including all of them in other projects in the past five to six years.

I went with the classic instrumentation for the genre, and I chose the musicians who I want to play with. I know that these guys are incredible and would make my music sound better, and they are my dear friends too. For the album that I am preparing, there will be a brass quintet with the original quintet. I can make my composition sound bigger with this.

This is an old video, but you can see the new one in tentet [YouTube video].

OttawaJazzScene.ca: I saw YouTube video of your group playing on outdoor festival stages. Have you played in smaller indoor spaces Like Record Runner before? Do you play differently than on an outdoor stage? How?

Carl Mayotte: For sure the energy is different because we are going to be closer to the listeners at Record Runner so the energy will come directly from the communication we have with listeners. Outside sometimes we can play more softly because of the quantity of the people and the situation, so at Record Runner we can take more risks, maybe.

OttawaJazzScene.ca: What makes your music “an epic adventure for the ears as for the mind”?

Carl Mayotte: Hahahahaha, for the mind it's the virtuosity, the complex composition, all the sections changing, or the adventurous harmony. For the ear, I can say that my goal is to make my music more accessible to people even if it's complex. So I try to use cool sounds, beautiful and simple melodies, variation in the instrumentation to keep people's attention, make the music groovy and dancing as possible, and to give a good show (but this for the eye hahaha). I choose the word “epic” because I think that best describes my music, a bit like movie music that can sometimes be epic.

OttawaJazzScene.ca: What online video or audio track is most representative of what you will perform at Record Runner ?

Carl Mayotte: This video: [YouTube video]

OttawaJazzScene.ca: Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers about the band?

Carl Mayotte: My guitar player, Gabriel Cyr, just win the title Guitar player of the year in London this year. We are really proud of him.

I am working on my first album solo now, with the help of Michel Cusson. It will be released in autumn, 2019. There going to be a GoFundMe campaign soon.

Finally my main goal is always to have fun and make the public have fun.