Rémi Bolduc the fighter

Photo: Maxime Tremblay A musically curious man, saxophonist Rémi Bolduc frequents great artists like pianist Kenny Werner and saxophonist Jerry Bergonzy.

We like Rémi Bolduc. We like him because he’s a fighter, a worker, a man of projectS with a capital S, an active man, a man who moves forward steadfastly, who doesn’t let himself be discouraged by the amount of adversity inherent in the world of jazz. We like Rémi Bolduc because he composes, he arranges, he transcribes day after day the pieces written by the ancients as well as the moderns, because he has been teaching for ages, because on his instrument, the saxophone, he sculpts the sound more than he plays it.

We like Bolduc because he is to jazz today what the late Bernard Primeau was to jazz yesterday. But then again? In the ’60s and beyond, drummer Primeau was what was said of Bolduc. In fact, it was with him that Bolduc really got his start. That he learned more than just the rudiments of the trade.

In an interview ahead of his appearance on Jazz en rafale, the saxophonist confided: “When he was in hospital, I obviously went to see him. So did Alexandre [editor’s note: Alexandre Côté, alto saxophonist]. Still, he used to say to us: ‘I’ve done my time. What I’m interested in is what project you’re working on.” He asked us a lot of questions without ever feeling sorry for himself. He was a great man.”

So there’s Primeau in Bolduc. We should even point out – and it may seem strange at first – that there’s also Buddy Johnson, the great saxophonist of whom the famous producer Norman Granz once said: “When Buddy’s in the studio, you’re at peace because you know he’s going to make the others work. That he’s going to do everything he can to get the best out of them.”

Bolduc dit Rémi is also characterized by a pronounced inclination for curiosity. More precisely, the kind of curiosity that drives him to associate with musicians who are also great artists. Pianist Kenny Werner and saxophonist Jerry Bergonzy come to mind. “Kenny taught me a lot about myself. During rehearsals, he was always very generous with his advice. He helped me discover new facets of my playing.” And Bergonzy? “He’s a great musician. A musicians’ musician. He’s very inspiring.”

For his March 22 show at L’Astral, he drew on the repertoire of a musician’s musician. As the Jazz en rafale program was conceived with the double bass in mind, Bolduc set about transcribing pieces written by the highly influential Oscar Pettiford: Tricotism, Bohemia After Dark, and so on. “This will be a more ‘straight ahead’ concert than usual.” He will be accompanied by the excellent Dave Laing on drums and André White on piano. And on double bass? He’s invited the gentleman made man, Toronto’s Dave Young, who has long accompanied Oscar Peterson and Oliver Jones, as well as having played with Clark Terry, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Hank Jones, Cedar Walton, Barry Harris, Zoot Sims, James Moody and others. Let’s conclude with a truism: it’s something to see and hear. ~ Le Devoir, by Serge Truffaut, 10 mars 2012 (translated from french)