Culture & Conversation

Playing it cool at the House of Jazz

Mary Ann Lacey

In an age of punkgrungemetal pounding, it is pleasant to listen to classic jazz standards that have been covered by everybody famous in the jazz pantheon. The Mary Ann Lacey Trio, whose repertory ranges from Irving Berlin to Miles Davis, is a contemporary group that does just that.

As Duke Ellington famously quipped “It don’t mean a thing if ain’t got that swing.” At a recent evening at the venerable House of Jazz (once called Biddles), the trio – Mary Ann on vocals, Paul Serralheiro on guitar and Mike De Masi on bass - held forth.

They played all 3 sets, leading off with “All of Me” (1931) and ending with Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (1984). In between were such as the Gershwins’ “I’ve Got A Crush On You” (1928) and Jerome Kern’s “Look For The Silver Lining” (1918).

As we approach September, Johnny Mercer’s “Autumn Leaves (1947) seemed à propos. Lacey sang that number largely in French as the original lyrics were penned by famous poet Jacques Prévert.

Lacey has been accompanied by many well known pianists around town such as Félix Stüssi and Chad Linsley, often at Westmount’s summer concerts in the park. Frequent accompanist in pubs and cafes Paul Serralheiro on guitar seems to effortlessly match her smooth, pitch perfect style.

Other classics in her repertoire include “Body and Soul”(1930), “Pennies From Heaven”(1936) and “Nature Boy” (1947). Besides increasingly writing her own songs, she trills some in Spanish or German. I love her (partly) Yiddish rendition of “Bei Mir Bist Du Schein.”

The House of Jazz is about to open a second venue in Laval on September 8. This bodes well as an addition to the other clubs keeping the flame of cool jazz alive, such as Upstairs and Diese Onze.

Visit for upcoming shows.


Rover‘s Byron Toben does not like punkgrungemetal pounding. He does enjoy cool jazz.

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