A Tale of Two Pianists
Jazz musicians in Montréal come in different stripes. Take Marianne Trudel and Holly Arsenault, for example, two Montréal pianists and composers. Although they had the chance to play duets together at the 2000 Jazz Workshop in Banff, they do not usually work in the same circles. Coming from varied musical and cultural backgrounds, each displays a highly individual style, as can be heard in their recent first disc releases.
Marianne Trudel’s solo effort, Espaces libres, is a distinct pastiche of her influences — French lyricism, clear rhythmical strains derived from listening to artists like Keith Jarrett, free improvisation and the wide-ranging melodicism of world music. Initially trained in classical music, Trudel was soon drawn to jazz, even though she admits she “never fit into the jazz mould.” What attracted Trudel, was the improvisational aspect of composition: “I liked to compose, to sit down and fine-tune musical ideas,” she explains. Still in her twenties, Trudel is currently working on a Master’s degree in ethnomusicology at the University of Montréal, and has some interesting formative experiences behind her. These include playing with Charles Aznavour in France, and writing arrangements for Altsys, Hugh Fraser and Bernard Primeau. She has rubbed shoulders at the Jazz Workshop in Banff with people like American trombonist George Lewis and Dutch drummer Han Bennink, and plans to work with Paul Rucker, a Seattle-based musician whom she met there. In addition to all this, Trudel, originally from Saint-Michel-de-Bellechasse near Quebec City, has recently been honing her skills as an accordionist, since, she explains, “I love the breath aspect of the instrument. It adds a whole other dimension to the playing.” Finally, political involvement is also a concern: “I have always been interested in the links between music and identity, and I’d like to do music for films that are socially engaged, things like documentaries about environmental issues.”
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