01a Marianne Trudel 1À Pas de Loup – Quiet sounds for a loud world
Marianne Trudel
Marianne Trudel Productions TRUD 2023-2 (mariannetrudel.com)

Dédé Java Espiritu
Marianne Trudel; John Hollenbeck
Marianne Trudel Productions TRUD 2023-1 (mariannetrudel.com)

Time Poem – La joie de l’éphémère
Marianne Trudel; Remi-Jean Leblanc; John Hollenbeck
Marianne Trudel Productions TRUD 2021-1 (mariannetrudel.com)

Marianne Trudel ascended the pinnacle of music 20 years ago, with formidable technique and breathtaking, innovative expression. Today, still atop that do-not-touch-me pinnacle, there’s an erudite quality to her pianistic approach, the lived-in character of her improvisations and phrase-making that is engaging, the fire and brimstone of youth now complemented by the well-honed values of experience. So, it is only natural to celebrate – yet again – with a set of three recordings: solo, a duo with drummer John Hollenbeck and a trio with Hollenbeck and contrabassist Remi-Jean Leblanc.

Some discerning listeners may be tempted to hint at the fact that Trudel’s later music with small ensembles may be more adventurous given the interaction between musicians that affords improvised conversations and the possibilities of considerable development of ideas. The very act of playing solo on À pas de loup – Quiet sounds for a loud world is a pensive act of musicianship best enjoyed in similar quietude. That way, what is composed and improvised, often on keyboard instruments – including the gently wheezing harmonium – and percussion (instruments, individually played and/or overdubbed) offers a taste of Trudel’s sense of adventure to the solitary recesses of her brave creativity. It is in the very act of being in quiet conversation with herself, inside her own head, buzzing with ideas so to speak, that we find considerably venturesome music. Melodic beauty quickly ascends vertically with masterful harmonic development and passionate embellishments. When Trudel adds percussion – as on Chrysalide, for instance – her supple facility for ideation and articulacy reaches its much-vaunted apogee.

01b Marianne Trudel 2Music embellished by the wondrous percussion colouration of John Hollenbeck is experienced truly memorably on Dédé Java Espiritu. Trudel has said that when she first played with Hollenbeck, she knew from “the first few notes” that they played together that there would be a musical reprise. Now comes this album featuring not simply breathtaking and daring adventure, but all of it featured in beautifully crafted arrangements of beguiling variety and sensuousness. Trudel’s love for – and mastery of – her instrument shines brightly. She and Hollenbeck seductively manipulate melody, harmony and rhythm in phrases that fly off the page on Coquillages. Meanwhile Trudel appears to bend notes while she and Hollenbeck masterfully sculpt the long inventions of Tension and Happiness. Clearly in the spacious arrangements and improvisations there’s not a semiquaver that has not been fastidiously considered.

01c Marianne Trudel 3To complete the trilogy of recordings released to mark two decades in music, Trudel returns to the studio (and the soundstage} with Hollenbeck. This time it’s a trio on Time Poem - Le joie de l’éphémère and the duo is complemented by the elegant rumble of the contrabass played by the masterful Québécois veteran Leblanc. There is unlikely to be a more reliable guarantee of high-quality contemporary trio music than when these names appear on the cover. Trudel’s musicians are fully attuned to the vision and artistry of their fearless leader, whose pianism bristles with meaningful virtuosity. Hollenbeck delivers his melodious rolling thunder of drums and hiss of cymbals while Leblanc beguiles with the spacious growl of his bass. Check out everything here.

You cannot have one of these three recordings without the other two, so, my best advice would be to indulge freely for untold moments of musical pleasure.

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