Concert enthralls with Brubeck tribute

by Anneke Le Roux
How lucky can our little town of Oliver be!?  We have a phenomenal theatre that brings incredible acts like the Montreal-based Rémi Bolduc Jazz Ensemble performance hosted by the South Okanagan Concert Society January 27th.   I could not believe my good fortune and did not stop smiling.  The Dave Brubeck Tribute concert was World Class!

The set-up was plain and simple, no gimmicks or distractions, just pure, enthralling, mind-blowing craftsmanship. Rémi Bolduc brought together musicians that not only understand their instruments and the music of Brubeck, but that lose themselves in the dynamics of ‘telling the story’ to the audience. It is the dynamics that pull you in and make you part of this world that is pure with utter brilliance. We all know jazz is not every one’s cup of tea, but when presented to you in this way, one can not help but stand in awe. And they do this without a single piece of sheet music!

Rémi plays a 60 year old Selmer alto saxophone (the very first one he bought for himself in the 80’s) with a tone quality of velvet. His understanding and portrayal of Brubeck’s music is the exact balance of beautiful tonal themes and lightning fast arpeggios and scale dissections  that leave one astounded when he lets loose. But he does not leave you behind. The audience could not agree more when the intro started to ‘Take Five’. That can only be done with years of impressive experience.
I was a bit worried or disappointed at first when the pianist sat with his back to us because it was not just any pianist, it was François Bourassa, and I wanted to see him interact with the other musicians.  He did this but now I did not see his face, but his hands. Oh those hands…! And his feet – which had a whole conversation all on their own. He made the piano sing with the lightest touch and a more controversial contemporary approach when he started “Bluette” on the piano’s anatomy (the insides of the piano). He plucked and played together, which caused great delight in the audience.

The double bassist Fraser Hollins and drummer David Laing’s solid performances were ever impressive and not to be underestimated. They made the transitions between aTempo and double time seem effortless, and they are the reason for every foot that tapped along.

Rémi Bolduc Jazz Ensemble is beyond fantastic! They are so aware of each other and what will happen next, they know the best ways to bring enhancement so the music stands out. What a privilege to see these professional musicians in action. They promised to return to the Okanagan, but if there’s a chance that they are near you, go! Their traveling schedule is available at

On this note, I have to say that so often the sound engineer is left behind. But Dave Mai (sound and lights) has done the outstanding by knowing the acoustics of the theatre so well and giving each individual instrumentalist the best balance, in order to give us the best performance. Thank you.

Frank Venables Theatre gives us another reason to be proud, and that is to anyone with an Orace Hearing System. On the 12th and 24th February, there will be two separate performances. 150 MOVES, Ballet Kelowna’s Celebration of Canadian Dance and DUO CONCERTANTE, and both performances’ sound will be paired with the Orace System. In other words, the music will be played directly in your ears!

DUO CONCERTANTE will be the next SOCS concert on 24 February at 7:30 at the Venables Theatre. Canadian partners in life and music, Nancy Dahn and Timothy Steeves perform on Violin and Piano. They have been praised by critics for over fifteen years for their ‘artistry, poetry and impeccable technique’. Tickets will be on sale at the theatre during new office hours. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 10:00 – 3:00. Make sure you don’t miss any of the shows!