Culture & Conversation

Carefree and Responsible

Anyone interested in serious jazz has to catch the Ben Henriques quartet this Saturday at Le Diable à Quatre, one of many excellent local jazz shows put on by Jazz in the Point. Ben is a regular at Jazz in the Point and his playing and compositions are featured on their debut album. Both that and his album were featured in the recent Roverarts Salon during the successful vernissage and as VIP gifts to Rover members.

The shows have become a staple of the Montreal jazz scene, with jam sessions during the week and star-studded invitationals on Saturday nights. The Chateauguay Tenors make regular appearances and occasionally you’ll see impromptu and unexpected collaborations.

On Saturday, you’ll hear songs from Ben’s album, The Responsibility Club, arranged for a quartet with one horn and a Rhodes piano. This is a departure from the album feel, which features an alto and tenor sax playing in counterpoint and a strong guitar. I was lucky enough to hear one of Ben’s shows last winter at the Cellar in Vancouver, with one horn and a piano. Montreal, you are in for a treat.

The piano is just as strong, but with a different power than a guitar. In this show, it’ll be a Rhodes, with a smoothness and lightheartedness that comes from an instrument with no strings. It’s a piano that can rival a big brass horn with its glowing metallic tones. Instead of three strong voices competing for the main position, expect a conversation between longtime and playful friends.

Marie-Fatima Rudolphe will join Ben on the Rhodes. She wowed audiences at last year’s L’OFF Festival de Jazz de Montreal with her trio. Her contemporary style works perfectly with Ben’s complex and melodic tunes, so expect dexterous play between her Rhodes tones and Ben’s Tenor.

Long-time collaborator Mark Nelson joins the quartet on drums. Mark was a part of Ben’s first EP, Look Both Ways. You might recognize him from the Parc-X Trio. Though not on the album, his Nu-Jazz style will bring a strong voice to songs like “A City Map for Mermaids” and “Cellar Dweller.”

Sébastien Pellerin is an accomplished local bassist. He studied at the Banff Centre with Dave Douglas and Donny McCaslin among others. He’s played in town with André White, Rémi Bolduc, the Jean-Nicolas Trottier Big Band and many others. His diverse talents lend a different energy to Ben’s tunes. Expect dazzling solos from this quartet.

The Ben Henriques Quartet will start at 9:30pm this Saturday at Le Diable à Quatre, 1871, rue Centre (corner Shearer). Admission 12$, 10$ for students. This is a one-off, but you can get a taste for the songs from the album on his website. You’ll hear a little Binney, a little Getz and a lot of very Responsible jazz.

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