Euro Tour - day 3

Glenn Miller Café, Stockhoolm

Glenn Miller Café, Stockhoolm

Finally adjusting to the time zone, I hit a cool café for a breakfast wrap, and to write a bit about the fabulous evening of music we had at the Glenn Miller Café last night. 

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After connecting with Mattias Risberg for coffee by the Kungliga Operan, we headed over to the Glenn Miller to meet up with Jon Fält and Joe Williamson for a quick load up and sound check, followed by an early dinner  of moules frites and light beer, served by the owner of the joint, the affable Ulf Sterner.

The joint was packed for the first two of three sets, with the hard core crowd sticking around for the last one. Not that a bunch of them left for not liking the music; due to restrictive liquor laws imposed by the government, the café could not anymore afford to pay for a license, forcing it to sell drinks with less than 2.5% alcohol. Don't ask... As a result, music fans have taken the habit of going to the café to hear a set of two of live music while enjoying a meal, and then leave to go to the pub for "real" beer! It doesn't help that you can taste the only genuine Pillsner Urquel beer available on tap in the country  at the Bar Central,  just a short distance away (we managed to catch the last call there after the gig!!!).

Joe Williamson, Jon Fält, FH (Mattias Risberg is hidden behind the upright piano on the left) 

Joe Williamson, Jon Fält, FH (Mattias Risberg is hidden behind the upright piano on the left) 

About the gig;  Mattias brought his Zoom recorder and a pair of DPA microphone to document the evening. It was truly a pleasure to get reacquainted with Joe, and to get to play with Jon. He's a fantastic drummer, amazing listener, highly dynamic and gifted with a really deep groove. The band locked in on some conceptual improv before launching into what felt like a post-modal fast rhythmic affair. A great time was had by all! 

Euro Tour - day 2

One of the many bridges connecting the islands that form the city. 

One of the many bridges connecting the islands that form the city. 

Old Stockholm

Old Stockholm

The battle with jetlag has begun! I woke up this morning at 5am, already a bit of a successful first night,  considering I had 6 hours of unbroken sleep. So, I set out to explore the city by foot after a hearty breakfast. I wandered my way to the old city, walking through the meandering small narrow streets, soaking in the relaxed atmosphere on this clear, cool morning. I was quite surprised to find similarities to parts of old Montreal and Quebec City in the way the buildings seem to lean inward over your head as you negotiate the small alleyways of Old Stockholm. 

View of the Vasa from the museum entrance

View of the Vasa from the museum entrance

From there I walked to the Djugården to see the Vasa Museum, One of the most impressive and popular museums in Sweden. The museum displays the only almost fully intact 17th century ship that has ever been salvaged, the 64-gun warship Vasa that sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. It was brought back to the surface in 1961.  

...and from the back

...and from the back

After a long walk back to my accommodations and a well deserved nap, I went to have dinner with my compatriot Joe Williamson, who's been living in Stockholm for almost a decade with his wife Johanna and his two daughter, Joyce and Grace. We spent the evening reminiscing about the Vancouver music scene in the early nineties. Joe was the first bassist I hired to play in my very first band, Et Cetera, a septet composed of some of the most talented and adventurous young musicians in the city at the time Joe on bass, drummer Dylan van der Schyff, Saul Berson on alto sax, Ian MacIntosh on tuba, Tony Wilson on guitar, and Brad Muirhead on trombone. Joe moved to Amsterdam in the mid 90's, and then on to Berlin before settling in Sweden. In each city he resided, he has managed to get involved in the music scene and to collaborate with a veritable who's who of the international creative music scene. In addition, he is one of those individuals with the gift of language. He's taught himself Dutch, German, and Swedish. He is also one of the few musicians I know who have always had a strong sense of where they "come from". His playing is imbued with a deep understanding and respect for the tradition, while consistently transcending genres, making him one of the truly original creative voices to have emerged from the Canadian west coast.

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Tonight is the first concert of my tour. I will be performing at Glenn Miller Café with Joe and a couple of Swedish musicians; Drummer Jon Fält, and pianist Mattias Risberg. I met Mattias last year when he visited Vancouver on a Swedish/Canada cultural exchange residency. Like Lisa Ullén, Nils Berg, and Mats Äleklint before him, Mattias immersed himself in the Vancouver music scene by meeting and playing with many of the musicians there. After sharing a few espressos at Milano coffee shop, and playing at my VCC studio, we agreed to pursue opportunities to work together again. It's thanks to Mattias that I was able to put together enough dates to make this tour happening. In reciprocity, Mattias will be travelling to the Canadian West Coast again in June and July to perform with me in Vancouver, Nanaimo, and Cumberland, BC. Although I have never met Jon Fält, his reputation follows him everywhere. Whenever I mention his name, the reaction is the same; he is one of the finest musicians on the scene here in Sweden, and has collaborated with pretty much all of the most important players around. I'm sure it'll be a real treat to work with him this evening.

Europe Tour 2016

Ok. After several months of planning, booking, grant writing, and connecting with musician friends in Sweden, France, UK, and Italy, I am about ready to go! 

At YVR

At YVR

I feel that I've already been on the road for a full day, as I drove out to Kelowna with Kenton Loewen yesterday to meet up with Gordon Grdina to perform at The Habitat, in a concert presented by the Skin and Bones Series. We had a great gig and hang before and after. But we had to pack it in early so we could get a timely start on the road back to Vancouver, giving me ample time to go home for an hour to rest up and grab my bags before heading over to the airport.  

I am not much of a writer, but decided to try my hand at keeping a blog of my three week long adventure, more as a mean to keep track of all the places and people I will be visiting (and performing with). Another goal of mine for doing this is to keep my mind focused on the positive aspects of the musician's life on the road. Hopefully there will be much to account for, with fun facts and stories, personal encounters and reflections on the various scenes I will find myself interacting with. For example, I have collaborated with Swedish musicians on several occasions over the years in Canada and in Sweden (Vasterås New Perspektiv Festival), but never really took the time to reflect on these musicians' experience and historical contribution to Jazz and the creative music world, and how they have become ubiquitous on the international circuit (Mattias Risberg will be performing with me this summer in Canada. The Thing will play in June at Skin and Bones in Kelowna as well as in Vancouver at the Jazz festival). 

So, I hope whoever opts to follow my ramblings will find it interesting and enlightening. More soon... 

 

François

 

With Mattias Risberg, at Milano's on 8th, Vancouver, June 2015

With Mattias Risberg, at Milano's on 8th, Vancouver, June 2015

François Houle and Benoît Delbecq on Gabriola Island

Thrilled to perform on Gabriola Island on June 27 with my long time duo partner French  award-winning pianist Benoît Delbecq. Last time we played on the island was like 18 years ago!!! A Lulu Productions concert. Don't miss it, island people! 

(FH with BD, Golden Gate Bridge, SF CA) 

(FH with BD, Golden Gate Bridge, SF CA) 

Houle-Risberg-Delbecq-Baird

Don't miss this concert, Comox Valley peeps! Some of the finest pianists in Europe coming to play with me and local drumming luminary Roger Baird! 

Read More

More concerts coming to the Islands in June with international artists Mattias Risberg and Benoît Delbecq. Visit my calendar page for more details

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CHRONIQUE

14 RUE PAUL FORT PARIS

Joelle Léandre (b), Benoît Delbecq (p), François Houle (cl)

Label / Distribution : Leo Records/Orkhêstra

Enregistré à l’adresse indiquée, ce disque en trio navigue entre simplicité, symbolisme et lyrisme.

Simplicité car les trois instrumentistes poursuivent avant tout le dénuement, rejetant toute tentation orchestrale au profit d’une recherche sonore aux confins de l’ordre naturel des choses, allant jusqu’au tréfonds des matières issues de leurs instruments respectifs.Simplicité car il règne dans ces sept titres, simplement intitulés « 14 Rue Paul Fort » (de 1 à 7), une harmonie bien loin des codes établis du jazz (pas de grille d’accords, bien entendu !), un sens de l’universel confinant à l’archaïsme. Qualifier cet essai de « libertaire » serait aller un peu vite en besogne, tant ses créateurs font autorité dans la moindre note proposée : la contrebasse deJoëlle Léandrefinit par sonner comme un trombone, la clarinette deFrançois Houlesait à dessein se faire percussive quand le piano deBenoît Delbecqdistribue les dissonances. Les musiciens s’effacent tellement derrière leurs instruments que leur création les dépasse.

C’est en ce sens que ce disque porte aussi l’empreinte d’un symbolisme poétique qui pourrait rappeler l’art littéraire d’un Paul Fort : on est ici dans le sensible pur, une quête imaginaire sans autre repère que la magie de l’écoute. Les artistes nous entraînent dans une forme de catharsis, sans pour autant forcer l’onirisme : les formes musicales proposées, loin d’être inconscientes ou surréalistes, sont autant de créations conscientes rejetant l’ordre rationnel des choses, brisant rythmes et mélodies conventionnelles au profit de l’intime. On ne s’aventurera pas à chercher des couleurs : tout ici n’est que nuance. Le lyrisme qui en découle ne saurait alors être tautologique : lorsque François Houle lance des trilles de clarinette et que Joëlle Léandre aligne de somptueux mouvements d’archet à la contrebasse, cependant que Benoît Delbecq fait respirer ses touches de piano, ce sont leurs Moi respectifs qu’ils accordent et désaccordent : belle conjuration des Égaux.

par Laurent Dussutour // Publié le 17 avril 2016

Metallica with Plastic Acid Orchestra

Nice photo by Diane Smithers of the premiere performance of my great friend and beautiful musical mind Giorgio Magnanensi's Six Gesture for Clarinet and Orchestra.

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Downing’s Phantom of the Opera | Vancouver Bach Choir

Looking forward to playing Andrew Downing's amazing score for the original feature film of Phantom of the Opera, with the Vancouver Bach Choir, a stellar group of musicians, including Chris Gestrin on the Orpheum's massive Wurlitzer organ.

 

February 20, 2016 at 8pm. Orpheum Theatre

Silence is Shattered. Terror Given Voice.

A spectacular multimedia work interweaves a screening of Rupert Julian’s dark & haunting 1925 film, The Phantom of the Opera, with live performance by chorus and chamber ensemble. Toronto-based composer Andrew Downing’s mesmerizing score returns by popular demand, offering new intensity and nuance to the cult-classic tale of gothic romance, lurking horror, and the unequaled power of music.

“[Rupert Julian’s The Phantom of the Opera] has two elements of genius: It creates beneath the opera one of the most grotesque places in the cinema, and Chaney’s performance transforms an absurd character into a haunting one.” – Roger Ebert, on the 1925 Silent Film

 

 

Conductor: Leslie Dala

Featuring: Rupert Julian’s 1925 The Phantom of the Opera and Virtuoso Chamber Ensemble.

Double Bass: Andrew Downing

Violin: Cameron Wilson

Clarinet: François Houle

Bassoon: Ingrid Chiang

Trumpet: Brad Turner

Trombone: Jeremy Berkman

Keyboards: Chris Gestrin