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October 24, 2002 Rémi Bolduc holds intimate musical conversations



Concordia musician Rémi Bolduc

by Mark Rieger

It was hard to get Rémi Bolduc to stop long enough for an interview, and no wonder. Between teaching music at both Concordia and McGill, putting the finishing touches on his new album, rehearsing for a series of concerts, and being the full-time father of two, the alto saxophonist is a busy man these days.

On three successive nights in February, the saxophonist will play duo concerts with three pianists: Moncef Genoud from Switzerland on Monday, Feb. 10, Montrealer François Bourassa on Feb. 11, and New Yorker Kenny Werner, with whom Bolduc recorded Tchat, his new album for Justin Time Records, on Feb. 12.

The name of the concert series is “Duos Intimes,” which, to hear Bolduc describe recording with Werner, could also have served as the title of the new album.

“I’ve never played that quietly before,” he said. “It’s really smooth. It’s more accessible than some of my [other] stuff, which is nice.”

Tchat isn’t simple music, though. Bolduc explained that the album’s softness came from the rapport between him and Werner, which allowed the two musicians to exchange complex musical ideas without resorting to excessive volume or speed.

“When you’re a duo you have to be really sensitive,” he said. “It makes you play less. But you can do more with space, with silence, because you’re only two.”

Such close communication should also be in evidence in the duo concerts, and although Bolduc acknowledged that it might be difficult to adapt to three different partners in such a short time, he said he welcomed the challenge.

“It’s kind of crazy — it’s a lot of music put together, but I wanted to do it,” he said. “Originally, my idea was to do more. I thought: four pianos, sax, drums. I wanted eight duos in a row, but we just couldn’t do it.”

Bolduc said he was trying to give himself the same type of playing opportunities in Montreal as a musician might expect in a large jazz centre like New York City, where he lived for two years in the early 1990s.

“In Montreal, you play once in a while,” he said, while in New York, “you play every day, and that really makes you a better musician. You need that experience, and that’s what I’m trying to create for myself.”

Some might wonder how different the concerts will be, since the instrumentation is the same for all three, but Bolduc was sure that someone attending all of the shows would hear something different each night.

“It’s like having a conversation with different people — it won’t sound the same with each one,” he said. “Moncef [Genoud] will probably sound more straight-ahead, Kenny is going to sound really wild, and with François, the music will be more complex, because his tunes are pretty hard.”

Bolduc said that his experiences recording Tchat and rehearsing for the concert series have reassured him that his playing continues to improve.

“In Montreal, there isn’t much happening on an international level,” he said. “It’s good to play with a guy like Kenny and realize that you’re on the right track. When you play at that level, it helps you know that you’re doing the right thing.”

Rémi Bolduc and partners play Duos Intimes as follows: with Moncef Genoud on Monday, February 10, 8 p.m., and with François Bourassa on Tuesday, February 11, 8 p.m., at the Savoy, 59 Ste-Catherine E. Tickets $7-12. 844-3500. He plays with Kenny Werner on Wednesday, February 12, 8 p.m., at the Salle du Gesù, 1200 de Bleury. Tickets are $10-15. Call 861-4036 for more information. Tchat will be in stores in mid-February.