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Country : Canada (Quebec) Label : Bonsaï Genres and styles : Jazz Year : 2020
Rachel Therrien

VENA

· by Ralph Boncy

She’s not kidding around, the girl. Anyway, she doesn’t do jazz standards. This fifth album comes out on a French label with, once again, nothing but new material. Fifteen new tracks. And even if she’s bluffing us on her record covers, abandoning abstract illustrations in favour of polished portraits of herself, rest assured. The valiant trumpet player from Quebec City, for all that, is no lightweight. In fact, these new images are like a thumbnail or, in a way, a mischievous and hyper-glamorous wink at her music, which never lacks essence. No two-bit narcissism here.

Written in voluntary confinement in Montreal last winter, recorded in France, in Meudon, with her European quartet (a Madrilenian on double bass, a Franco-Australian pianist and the German Mareike Wiening on drums), Vena is an album that’s easy to listen to. Generous, playful and determined, Therrien shows the same leadership as with her Quebec quintet, which won the grand-prix jazz award at the Montreal Jazz Fest in 2015. After her New York break, she completed the album Why Don’t You Try? with this group, in which Benjamin Deschamps played the alto saxophone. This time, she measures herself against the excellent tenor Irving Acao, on “Bilka’s Story” and especially “This Isn’t Love”, a piece about disappointed loves where the emotion is particularly palpable, as it is in “75 Pages of Happiness”, an expression of admiration for her aging father.

From Colombia to the Ukraine, from Brooklyn to Pigalle, with in addition “Emilio”, a piece sketched in Cuba in her early twenties, Therrien accumulates experience and plays more and more to her strengths. It’s clear that she’s drawing on her own experience. For the rest, the small group has fun with ersatz bop and free, then have a blast on “Just Playing” before heading to Prospect Park to tease the blue turtles.

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