Lorraine Desmarais Jazz Trio, Street Beat Suite Review
by Icrom Bigrad
Lorraine Desmarais is a pianist and composer known in Canada, the USA, Europe, Mexico, China, Indonesia, and Africa for her solo, trio, and big band performances. She has twelve albums of original compositions, and now at the height of her art, the award-winning pianist offers a new work that celebrates the estuary of the St. Lawrence River, connecting the Great Lakes to the North Atlantic Ocean. The album is called Street Beat Suite, which has eight tracks that depict landscapes surveyed and loved by people who met and appreciated to form the music suite with pictorial accents. Requisitioning the full potential of the piano, an instrument that is at once melodic, harmonic, and percussive, Desmarais performs jazz with an extensive palette, sometimes figurative, sometimes abstract, but always lyrical and beautifully balanced.
“Orange brûlé” is an upbeat composition with elements of bebop, modern jazz, and European jazz. With a memorable seminal figure, the trio builds the energy. On drums is Camil Belisle, and on double bass is Alec Walkington. The chord progression is a well-known pattern, but with a few twists, allowing us to hear Desmarais’ approach to the standard changes. Her playing is precise, melodic, and rhythmically accurate. This is an enjoyable trio project that has fresh sounds for enjoyment.
“Valse Saint-Germain” is a Desmarais original with classical and jazz elements mixed to form an elegant musical experience. The composition has the trio working together with style and communication through the form. Desmarais has a warm, buzzing piano tone, and her phrasing brings elegance to her solo. The rhythm section creates a relaxed waltz feel for Desmarais, building a beautiful musical space together.
Street Beat Suite is an enjoyable jazz album filled with artful and giving performances that explores a beautiful mix of classical and jazz sonorities and moods. The trio performs elegantly, inviting us to listen repeatedly to their fresh, graceful approaches to the jazz language.