Jean-Francois Groulx is one of the major young talents in the Montreal jazz scene, performing on piano, guitar and percussion, composing excellent new material for his own JFG Trio as well as film and theater and working across musical borders, crossing over to world and pop music as a performer and musical director. After four JFG Trio releases on Justin Time, he's recorded his debut album for Effendi, and it's proof positive of the vitality to be found in Canadian jazz today.
The other players in his trio, drummer Pierre Tanguay and acoustic bass guitarist Norman Lachapelle, are aboard here, along with guest percussionist Andre Martin. Drummer Karl Jannuska appears on one track, "Cours!," as well. With the core players being so well acquainted, the ensemble masters Groulx's sometimes challenging arrangements capably, and as a leader and arranger Groulx is generous in allowing his sidemen room to show their abundant talents.
The material is primarily energetic straight ahead jazz, with some fusion accents and Latin undertones provided by percussionist Martin. Groulx himself shows impressive emotional range on the piano, weaving moments of striking sensitivity into his typically upbeat compositions, perhaps best exemplified on "Quelques Annees Plus Tard." Another standout track is the closer, "Erreur Boreale," for which Groulx steps away from the keyboard and offers a fine acoustic guitar performance, slightly reminiscent of the work of Michael Hedges.
Groulx has brought some exceptional material to his new label, and used it to produce an exceptional new album.