CULTURE Vanier Big Band make moves at the Jazz Fest

Les Nouvelles Saint-Laurent - - 18 - Sa­ra.king-aba­

MU­SIC. Toes tap­ping, heads bop­ping and thighs slap­ping, 23 young Vanier Col­lege mu­si­cians got in­to the groove for one of the big­gest per­for­mances of their fled­gling ca­reers at the In­ter­na­tio­nal Jazz Fes­ti­val.

The Vanier Col­lege Big Band lit up the Rio Tin­to Stage on Thurs­day with clas­sics like

and Fly me to the Moon, but the ren­di­tions were any­thing but or­di­na­ry.

“[ Im­pro­vi­sa­tions] are the har­dest part,” said te­nor sax player, Ales­sio Bo­lu­si. “But when you get so­me­thing, it’s so worth it.” Thurs­day’s show was the most pres­ti­gious that the 19-year- old, who plans on conti­nuing his mu­si­cal edu­ca­tion af­ter Vanier at McGill or Con­cor­dia Uni­ver­si­ties, had played thus far.

This was the se­cond time at the fes­ti­val for 18- year- old bas­sist Mat­thew McCor­mack, who al­so played with his high school. “It’s edu­ca­tion,” he ex­plai­ned. “We’re all just trying to im­prove and at the end of the day it’s how the show goes.” McCor­mack is plan­ning on stu­dying mu­sic at Uni­ver­si­té de Mon­tréal.

There are al­ways nerves be­fore a show, but the mu­si­cians main­tain that it’s all about ba­lan­cing the stress and ex­ci­te­ment, and al­so to “just stop tal­king” be­fore get­ting on stage and focus.

Focus is ne­ces­sa­ry for a piece like Willow Weep for Me. “It’s real­ly in­ti­mate,” ex­plai­ned McCor­mack. “I can real­ly hear eve­ryone.”

For Bo­lu­si, the piece is more emo­tio­nal­ly connec­ted. “You’re not just playing what’s on the pa­per.”


Lea­ding mu­si­cians of the fu­ture is old hand for conduc­tor Jo­ce­lyn Couture, who has taught mu­sic at Vanier for close to 20 years. The trum­pet player per­forms at the fes­ti­val about 15 times a year, and the Vanier Big Band usual­ly par­ti­ci­pates eve­ry other year.

“Eve­ry group is dif­ferent,” said Couture. “It’s ne­ver bo­ring . . . it’s about the kids and al­ways ha­ving new ideas. Mu­sic is like that, it’s ne­ver fi­ni­shed.”

He tries to se­lect a re­per­toire of va­rying styles that the group works on throu­ghout the year. While it may seem like it would be dull to prac­tice the same pieces over and over, that’s where the ma­gic hap­pens.

“In­ten­si­ty comes with the ease of the tune,” he ex­plai­ned, and Bo­lu­si and McCor­mack agree.

“It’s about consis­ten­cy,” said Bo­lu­si. Once the mu­si­cians know a num­ber in­side and out, the crea­ti­vi­ty, in­ten­si­ty and im­pro­vi­sa­tions that jazz mu­sic is all about can real­ly come through.

(Photo: TC Me­dia – Isa­belle Ber­ge­ron)

The Vanier Col­lege Big Band played their big show at the Mon­treal In­ter­na­tio­nal Jazz Fest, Thurs­day, Ju­ly 7.

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