The Uniqueness of Rachel

Bruce Von Stiers

I learned about trumpeter Rachel Therrien through the DIVA Jazz web site. She is listed as one of the many talented artists involved with that jazz project. Hailing from Canada, Rachel was the winner of an award at the 2015 Montreal International Jazz Festival. She has a varied style of jazz that includes Afro- Columbian and Caribbean and Cuban influences.

Along the way Rachel formed a quartet featuring some top notch talent. It is with that group, known as the Rachel Therrien Quintet, that Rachel released an album last year. The title of the album is WDYT (Why Don't You Try). It is chock full of interesting and entertaining jazz music.

WDYT was recorded at Studio 270 in Montreal by Robert Langlois. It was mixed at Studio Tone Bender by Olivier St-Pierre and mastered by Nicolas Boulay. The album has eleven songs and a play time of fifty-four minutes. It was released on the Free Run Artists label.

Members of the quartet are Rachel on trumpet, Benjamin Deschamps on saxophone, Charles Trudel on piano, Alain Bourgeois on drums and Simon Page on bass. Benjamin has his own quartet which released their second album this year. He has also played on albums by Vera Marijt and the McGill Jazz Orchestra. And his quartet recently did a gig with Emilie-Claire Barlow, a wonderful vocalist I've reviewed a couple of times. Charles has his own trio, along with playing in Benjamin's and other groups such as the Jungle Boogie Band. Alain is a member of Charles' trio along with recording with the Parc X Trio and the Montreal Hard Bop Five. Simon plays with the El M Quartet and does things like gigs at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Aside from the award hat I mentioned earlier, Rachel initiated the Montreal Jazz Composer Series and has performed all across the U.S. and Canada, along with recorded a few other albums.

The first song on the album is Spectrum. It is a fast piece with a lot of piano and bass at first then Rachel kicks in with some great trumpet. There is also some great sax in the song as well.

In second position on the album is the title track, Why Don't You Try. It begins slow and endearing, much like a New Orleans styled ballad. It is a moderately paced song that showcases Rachel's trumpet playing.

Demi-Nuit is slow and somewhat haunting at first. Then things pick up a bit, with some nice trumpet, sax and drums, along with some subtle bass and piano.

Adirondack Jump has a nice toe-tapping pace. The sax in the song is pretty cool and there is a decent piano solo. Of course, Rachel has some great trumpet bits in the song as well.

Listening to Hayde Santamaria made me think of jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie and Clark Terry.

CRS is a bit slower and moody.

Omelette Coleman starts with a cool drum solo that is followed with some fast paced bass. And then there is trumpet interspersed with the bass. From there, the song brings forth a hodge podge of sounds. It is a very interesting song.

With a title like I Am Alone, you might think that a song would be slow and mournful. But not this one. It is moderately paced with decent trumpet.

I don't know of any way to describe Tomber En Cinq other than it is weird. The front end of the song made me think of 70's styled pop and rock songs that utilized horn sections. That part was okay. Then about halfway through there are some very strange sound effects and what I would call circus sideshow music. The song is very different and strange, yet at the same time very entertaining.

Then there is Rocket Launch. It starts out slow then moves into a solid jazz groove.

The last song on the album is Miroe. It is kind of dark and moody. But near the end of the song there are some interesting sound effects and fast paced music.

Given Rachel Therrien's extensive background, I wasn't sure what to expect of the music on this album. I was pleasantly surprised by the melding of several jazz elements into a cohesive styling. Although certain influences can be heard throughout the music, the album definitely has a unique sound. I rather enjoyed this uniqueness of the music on the album.

WDYT (Why Don't You Try) can be found at Bandcamp or on amazon.

If you are interested in learning more about the album and the Rachel Therrien Quintet, check out Rachel's official site at http://racheltherrien.com/

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© 2017 Bruce E Von Stiers