Country : Québec Label : Genres and styles : Choral Music / Jazz / Pop / Vocal Jazz Year : 2024

Ensemble vocal jazz Bémol 9 – Hiatus

· by Michel Labrecque

Bémol 9 celebrates its forty years with a Hiatus. The vocal jazz ensemble led by Vincent Morel arrives at the age of reason with a very mature musical proposition. 

Bémol 9 is, first and foremost, a group of voices with an eclectic jazz repertoire. The seventeen choristers are joined by a trio of bass, drums, and keyboard. Vincent Morel’s specialty is to make these voices sound like a big band, and to create French lyrics to certain American jazz classics.

Eclecticism, we said: it begins with And so it Goes, by Billy Joel, a quiet pop ballad with sumptuous harmonies. Followed by Oye Como Va by Santana and Moondance by Van Morrison. Rock coated with jazzy vocals.

We have to wait for the fifth piece, a rereading of Flight of the Foo Birds, by Count Basie, to hear previously unpublished lyrics in French. This will be repeated subsequently with Line for Lyons, by Paul Desmond, transformed into a French jazz ballad, Choro Dançado, by Maria Schneider, Strasbourg-St-Denis, by Roy Hargrove and Caribe, by Michel Camilo. These pieces constitute the strongest moments of this album.

There are also rereadings by Félix Leclerc (Bozo), the Beatles (Come Together), Joni Mitchell (Both Sides Now) and Gloria Estefan (Mas Alla). On this last choice, I’d like to express a dissonant note: there are so many wonderful songs in Spanish, past and present, that I’m trying to list on PAN M 360, that one could find much better, melodically speaking, than the product of this very commercial Floridian.

Not all the interpretations are of equal quality, but there’s a damned good effort put into creating playful, intelligent music for our ears to enjoy. Hiatus is Bémol 9’s seventh album in its forty-year history. All the members of the ensemble have other jobs, music-related or not. It’s also an example of musical resilience, which deserves to be highlighted; and listened to. 

Bémol 9 will perform at the Quebec Jazz Festival on June 25.

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