©Brett Delmage, 2018
l-r: Garry Elliott, Camil Belisle, Adrian Vedady, Steve Boudreau
©Brett Delmage, 2018

The Elliott / Boudreau Quartet
2018 Merrickville's Jazz Fest
Merrickville United Arts Centre
Sunday, October 14, 2018 – 1 p.m.

View photos by Brett Delmage of this performance

Ottawa guitarist Garry Elliott and pianist Steve Boudreau are long-time – and highly compatible – musical collaborators. They've been playing together for 15 years now and known each other for even longer; Elliott even taught Boudreau guitar as a teenager. You could hear the depth of their communication and interaction in their quartet show in Merrickville.

After releasing a duo CD (Pre-Dawn Skies) in 2013, they formed a quartet with Montreal musicians Adrian Vedady (double bass) and Camil Belisle (drums) two years ago. They have a new CD as a quartet, Opus 2, just out.

Their 75-minute show at MJF was primarily an introduction to the new CD, with one song from their first CD and a few standards.

Their opening number, Elliott's “Happy Returns”, was from Opus 2. Electric guitar, then keyboards, then double bass each contributed sections to the soundscape, all supported by light textures on cymbals and drums. It was a meditative piece, with touches of Pat Metheny in the guitar, organ voicings in the keyboards, and blues in the double bass – but consistently touching the heart with its melody.

Boudreau followed with a fast and swinging number, “Patent Pending”. The bright highlights in his keyboard lines were echoed in Elliott's guitar playing, with Vedady embroidering around the melody.

Other pieces from the new CD included Boudreau's exploratory piece “Words I Left Behind”, with its minor-key feeling of strangeness; and Elliott's “Mix Live”, which was revived from their first album to include on the new CD. Opening with flamenco-style rhythms, it rushed along with vigorous piano and robust guitar lines. They also included Elliott's wistful and vibrant “Sharr” from that first album, which he noted was the first time they'd played that number as a quartet.

Elliott has also recently played in an organ trio combo with Bumpin' Binary, and you could hear that Wes Montgomery-like vibe in the quartet's happy and assured rendition of the standard “Pensativa” by Clare Fischer. Boudreau's voice was more clearly heard in their deconstructed version of “Blue Monk”, which took its time to coalesce into the recognizable, if slightly off-kilter, melody, and then was given a full-out exercise with hard-driving drum solo, vibrating guitar notes, deliberate bass lines, and slinky and inflected keyboards.

They closed with Elliott's “Sea Samba”, a warm and sensual piece showcasing flowing Brazilian rhythms on guitar and keyboards. The fast energy of this piece almost dragged me up on my feet to dance; I could imagine twirling to its happy beat. When it ended in a shower of light notes, the audience rose for an enthusiastic standing ovation.

This concert was held in the Merrickville United Arts Centre, a revamping and renovation of the town's United Church to allow it to also be used as a concert and theatrical venue. The renovation retained most of the church's beautiful interior and semi-circular design, while creating a real stage and adding a new lighting and sound system.

For this show, neither was actually used – which was fine for the sound, because no amplification was really needed beyond the amps for each instrument and an announcement mic. The acoustics in the church worked well with the instrumental mix, allowing the audience to hear each note and stroke clearly. It would have been better, however, to have put some stage lights on the band, who were less lit than the audience.

Set List

  1. Happy Returns / Garry Elliott
  2. Patent Pending / Steve Boudreau
  3. Pensativa / Clare Fischer
  4. Words I Left Behind / Steve Boudreau
  5. Mix Live / Garry Elliott
  6. Sharr / Garry Elliott
  7. Blue Monk / Thelonious Monk
  8. Sea Samba / Garry Elliott

Read all the stories by OttawaJazzScene.ca about the 2018 Merrickville's Jazz Fest: