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Thursday 6: Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free. OUTDOOR gig.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Francois Bourassa Quartet Lit & Phil, Newcastle. October 7

Francois Bourassa (piano), André Leroux (tenor & soprano saxophones), Guy Boisvert (double bass) & Greg Ritchie (drums)
(Review by Russell, photos by Ken Drew).
Pianist Francois Bourassa sported a black t-shirt bearing the legend Effendi. The genial Canadian clearly took the opportunity to promote the Toronto-based record label on which his 2011 CD Idiosyncrasie was released. 
The two sets heard at the Lit & Phil featured material from the CD and an earlier album – Rasstones. The live experience differed markedly to the recorded output. Frequently smiling, Bourassa played rattling good, swinging piano, encouraging, then responding to, the in-the-pocket bass and drums of long-time cohorts Guy Boisvert and Greg Ritchie. Isola from Idiosyncrasie started proceedings and the quartet confirmed that they could play, then some! Bourassa has known and worked with his band mates for years and it showed. André Leroux opened his account on tenor with conviction, possessing ‘front man’ presence. Chant Poo from Rasstones saw him switch to soprano, weaving in and out of Bourassa’s clock work nursery rhyme. A three-part suite – the ‘German’ – from the 2011 release held the audience rapt; big tenor and scintillating, swinging piano trio playing drawing loud applause. The second set heard Haiku-Darmstadt and from Rasstones the deceptive Nationz – a ballad beginning, developing into a robust up-tempo group workout. Bourassa’s quartet proved to be a well-honed unit focusing on group improvisation with the bonus of Leroux taking command from time to time, an extended tenor-drums (Greg Ritchie) exchange a particular highlight. CD sales were brisk, most going during the interval, the rest by the end of the night. As so often is the case, the live experience won out. A good gig with a decent crowd in, all in all a good night of contemporary jazz.  
Russell.       

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