The other other jazz fest begins today

Marianne Trudel and a stack of other recommended show at the 14th annual OFF Festival de Jazz.

Marianne Trudel
L’OFF Festival de Jazz (Oct 3–10) features an array of local jazz, perfect for a week’s worth of concerts in this Indian summer.

The musical contrasts to be found at the festival’s 14th edition are reflected in the approaches of pianist Marianne Trudel, who is booked for two shows at Lion d’Or. “I wanted to propose two trios, kind of in the tradition,” Trudel explains over the phone. “Piano, drums and bass. One with musicians I’ve worked with for a long time, musicians whom I adore: bassist Morgan Moore and drummer Philippe Melanson. We’re going to present new compositions.” In the second part, she’ll be teaming up with the avant garde duo of bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake, from NYC and Chicago, respectively. “I want to see the complementarities of the two approaches.”

After a busy decade of work in small and large ensembles, Trudel has evolved an aesthetic that is lyrical and exploratory, dynamic and interactive. She’s a composer of poised introspective pieces, and she’s not afraid of the freefall of pure improvisation. She’ll be showcasing all of the above tomorrow night.

“Last year, I did a 15-musician project at the OFF with Parker,” she reminds me. The trio idea came from Guelph Jazz Festival organizer Ajay Hebel, who, when Trudel proposed her Trifolia trio for a performance there last month, suggested the trio with Parker and Drake instead.

“He wanted to hear something different from the usual trio format. I had thought of it, but I wouldn’t have dared to propose it. So we did it at Guelph, and in speaking to Marc Chenard [Montreal-based jazz writer] about the OFF, he suggested that I do it again with Parker and Drake and I thought it was a good idea.”

Preparing to play compositions is akin to the process of composition itself. “It allows for time to explore ideas, get to know their ins and outs, fine-tune, refine,” Trudel explains. Preparing for improvisation on the level that Parker and Drake work is a whole other game.  “Especially when they really get going, they’re a formidable machine,” she says.

So Trudel’s approach is, as she describes it, getting out to the country, riding her bike and getting to a place “where you can be one with your instrument. I try to be as grounded as possible.”

“As a pianist, harmony is a big part of my concerns, but on the spot it’s hard to get a polished harmonic concept, not in the same sense of development… Time is the difference,” she explains, highlighting the challenges of the piano in free improv.

“When I’m composing, I work a melody, I take my time, try different things…Improvising, it’s a completely different approach. At Guelph, it felt like I’d run a marathon. I was exhausted but content.” ■
Marianne Trudel, William Parker and Hamid Drake perform at Lion d’Or (1676 Ontario E.) on Friday, Oct. 4, 9:30 p.m., $15

Other recommended OFF shows


The cozy downtown Upstairs or uptown Resonance café, the edgy Casa del Popolo, and the opulent Lion d’Or, la Sala Rossa and Cabaret du Mile End are where it’s all happening. Here is a list of shows I’d catch:


Lion d’Or (1676 Ontario E.)

Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra, opening night (Oct. 3)

Marianne Trudel trio with William Parker and Hamid Drake (Oct. 4)


Resonance Café (5175 Parc)

Marcin Garbulinski Quintet (Oct. 11)

Janis Steprans Quartet (Oct. 6)


La Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent)

Zanella, Bolduc, Coté (Oct.  9)

Quartetski does Stravinski (Oct.  10)

Nordest Trio (Oct.  11)


Casa del Popolo (4873 St-Laurent)

Derome, Guilbeault ,Tanguay Trio (Oct.  4)

Tilting (Oct. 5)

Mend Ham (Oct.  6)

Isis Giraldo Poetry Project (Oct. 9)

Criag Pederson Quartet (Oct. 10)


Upstairs (1254 Mackay)

Chet Doxas (Oct.  5)

Jeff Johnson (Oct.  6)


Cabaret du Mile End (5240 Parc)

Closing night’s World Colours: John Roney and JazzLab Orchestra and special guest violinist Mark Feldman (Oct.  12)

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