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Lorraine Desmarais Big Band: Danses Danzas Dances




Lorraine Desmarais is a Canadian pianist and composer based in Montreal, Quebec. With the release of Danses Danzas Dances, her most recent CD, she has twelve albums of original compositions to her name. She is a Member of the Order of Canada (Canada’s highest civilian award), she has numerous other prizes, awards and accolades for her commitment to her musical art in performance and composition.

Desmarais is not only the composer, pianist, leader of the big band project but also producer and artistic director. Danses Danzas Dances is a beautifully produced record with excellent sound quality. The first song “Ultra Triple Swing” is a high stepper and blasts out of the gate with ferocity. The Lorraine Desmarais Big Band packs plenty of power with some of Montreal’s foremost musicians tearing it up.

The album features ten compositions, and each song is an exploration of a dance form. Are there even ten different dance forms? From the swing number previously mentioned we move on to the sensuous Bossa Nova infused “Olivier” Desmarais has a wonderfully inspired conversation with the orchestra. Ron Di Lauro responds with his flugelhorn in a most delightful manner. Piano and orchestra smoothly play in this warm and romantic tune.

The saxophonists in the band get to dance a jig in the next number, “Reel” where Alexander Cote, Andre Leroux and Jean-Pierre Zanella let loose with saxophonic abandon. There is a definite Irish lilt to this one and it is a joyous big band romp.

There are many tunes on Danses Danzas Dances that would require a professional dancer to carry out. I say this from the point of view of an amateur, although a lover of dance in all its varied forms. Take the tune “Habanera” a hot number that flies at a breakneck pace with melodic intricacies  that would be a choreographers delight and a dancers challenge. The same could be conveyed for “Milonga” the Argentine Tango with its flash and fire. The band plays it hot, led by Demarais’ staccato piano renderings  and the trumpet brilliance, care of Aron Doyle.

“Each one of these dances reflects the improvisational  talents  of the outstanding musicians  who join me on this album.”  Lorraine Desmarais

If you are a fan of big band music – this is a treasure chest. If like me you are a fan of Ms. Desmarais and her big band composing and arranging skills, then Danses Danzas Dances, is a fantastic treat. What could be better than a group of amazing jazz musicians led by one of Canada’s best pianists, performing original songs with Latin infused flavours and World influences. I highly recommend, Danses Danzas Dances.

Track list: Ultra Triple Swing; Olivier; Reel; Habanera; Tango; Milonga; Bolero Romantico; Reggae Do!; Walzer; Samba Para La Corrida.

Personnel: Richard Gagnon (trombone), Dave Grott (trombone), Mohammad Al-Khabyyr (trombone/voice), Bob Ellis (bass trombone), Andre Leroux (tenor sax/flute/clarinet), Jean-Pierre Zanella (saxophones/flute), David Bellemare (tenor sax/flute), Jean Frechette (baritone sax/clarinet), Alexandre Cote (alto sax/flute), Aron Doyle (trumpet/flugelhorn), Ron Di Lauro (trumpet/flugelhorn), Jocelyn Couture (trumpet/flugelhorn), Jocelyn Lapointe (trumpet/flugelhorn), Frederic Alarie (bass),Camil Belisle (drums).

All compositions and arrangements by Lorraine Desmarais and featuring Lorraine Desmarais  on piano.

Label: Independent
Release date: April 2016
Buy Lorraine Desmarais’ music: amazon

An independent journalist, based in Toronto, Canada. A professional musician and a fan of music, dance and the arts. I have written short stories, lyrics, poetry and reviews. I have been published in numerous online webzines. I’ve taught drumming and played in bands; I have felt the passion to create. I enjoy expressing that passion, the artistic experience, in words, reporting on the shows and musical experiences that I have witnessed.

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Featured Albums

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá



Roberto Jr. Vizcaino, Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaino Guillot - Photo Nayeli Mejia
Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot - Photo: Nayeli Mejia.

Listening to the music of Siempre Más Allá, it certainly seems that the young French pianist, Adrien Brandeis has strengthened the belief that he is a proverbial citizen of the Afro-Caribbean universe. To be clear Mr Brandeis still loves all music and swings as hard as any pianist who loves Black American Music – that is, music that you can sing and dance to. But also continues to be beguiled by the rolling thunder of Afro-Caribbean music. The wild call of the rhythms and the joie de vivre of the questing melodies and harmonies not only appeal to his ear, but also speak to him in the hidden parts of his heart.

By his own admission Siempre Más Allá took root during three tours to Mexico undertaken under the aegis of the Fédération des Alliances Françaises du Mexique. The virtually all-Afro-Cuban repertoire of the album radiates charm at every turn. These disarmingly natural and eloquent performances bring out the music’s inherent drama and penchant for tumbao with a deft touch while indulging Brandeis’ lyrical instincts to the full. Meticulously balanced, the four quartet pieces, the trio and duo pieces feel as if they are chamber works. Brandeis’ astonishingly insightful playing is musically captivating and technically blemishless. Each phrase rings so completely true that one can’t imagine the music played any other way.

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá
Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

The album features Mr Brandeis and a group of very accomplished musicians. These include the celebrated Cuban percussionist Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot [on two tracks] and his son Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Mexican drummer José Loria Triay make up the wall of percussion. The Brasilian bassist Giliard Lopes brings his distinctive veritas to the whole rhythm section. The big surprise here is, perhaps, the presence of the great Cuban Horacio “El Negro” Hernández sitting in the drum chair on La buena vibra.

Siempre Más Allá is an affirmation of Brandeis’ enduring love and natural affinity for Latin music. Not surprisingly the music seems to echo the famous Latin American phrase: “¡Que rico bailo yo!” [which, in English, exclaims: “How well I dance!”]. This is no hyperbole as the music – in its pulses and rhythms show as Brandeis traverses the rhythmic topography of the Caribbean and Latin America. Along the way Brandeis plunged into the world of changüí, the chacarera, Brasilian gaucho music and the ancient melodic thunder of bàtá drums.

From the get-go listeners will find themselves immersed in quite another world of rippling percussive grooves. The track Ek Bakam, for instance, conjures the intricate architecture; the line and flow of an epic Mayan civilisation located in the Yucatan. Narratives from the Latin world abound – often paying homage to famous traditional musicians. Pancho’s Power is one such chart inspired by the vivid world of the legendary trio Los Panchos. Brandeis gives his percussion section a lot of space when he puts the spotlight on them on Tierra de Oportunidades – a wistful memory of the pianist’s three tours to Mexico, which is also incidentally the popular provincial slogan of the Mexican state of Guanajuato. On Huachi-Huachi Brandeis digs deep into the epicurean delights of the only Latin country in North America with this song in praise of a kind of gourmet Mexican fish: the huachinango.

Brandeis then celebrates his association with percussion colourist Roberto Vizcaíno Jr. with the extraordinary music of Vizcaíno Blues, a piece unique with its exploratory chromaticisms and elegant sonorities that beautifully capture the eloquence of the percussionist in whose praise the music is written. Mindful of the fact that Vizcaíno is Cuban but makes his home in Mexico, Brandeis shapes the rhythmic and harmonic palette of the piece accordingly. On La Buena Vibra Brandeis delivers astonishing pianistic fireworks in the piece’s melodic and harmonic lines, played at a frenetic pace, to mirror the style of its dedicatee, Michel Camilo. The pianist demonstrates an authentic home-grown grasp of Cuban music as he reimages Voy a Apagar la Luz, by the legendary and late-singer Armando Manzanero, here adapted as a wistful solo piano work. Meanwhile on the dizzying ride of Humpty Dumpty the pianist pays homage to another idol: Chick Corea, by revisiting the sparkling composition of the recently-deceased piano maestro.

It is hard not to be mesmerised by this spirited and finely nuanced music artfully crafted in an album by Adrien Brandeis, a pianist who is about to take the world by storm with a recording that is going to be one of the finest by any musician located outside the Latin American sub-continent.

Tracks – 1: Huachi Huachi; 2: Alegría; 3: Pancho’s Power; 4: Ek balam; 5: Un peu d’espoir; 6: Vizcaíno’s Blues; 7: Tierra de oportunidades; 8: Humpty Dumpty; 9: La buena vibra; 10: Voy a apagar la luz

Musicians – Adrien Brandeis: piano; Giliard Lopes: contrabass; José Loria Triay: drums; Roberto Vizcaíno Jr: congas and bàtá drums. Featuring Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot: percussion [1, 6]; Horacio “El Negro” Hernández: drums [9]

Released – 2022
Label – Mantodea Music Productions
Runtime – 58:25

YouTube Video – Adrien Brandeis – Siempre más allá (EPK)

YouTube Audio – Adrien Brandeis – Vizcaíno’s Blues

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