Terez Montcalm; Voice of a Ragged Angel

At L’Astral last evening, Terez Montcalm came home and the predominant Francophone crowd – welcomed her with open ‘bras’.

Why would they not …?

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Montcalm, in her somewhat short, six album career, has recorded mostly in French. Her sole English album? Voodoo, released in 2006.

Terez is presently touring with her new album; I Know I’ll Be Allright. It is a mixture of jazzed – up covers translated in both official languages. Songs from David Bowie, Micheal Jackson and Neil Young circle like vultures from a time long ago. All placed together in an album with songs that Terez handpicked to soothe her soul.

‘Hier soir’ – she performed the ‘new songs’ impeccably. Her spirit – silenced from it’s angst. If only for a moment or two.

‘Superwoman’, the 1972 song penned by the then boy wonder; Stevie Wonder, set the tone of what would come. In English…

The song, recognizable to music connoisseurs and diehard Wonder fans – arrived masked in a cape of old school Jazz rhythms. Lena Horne, Billie Holiday and Eartha Kitt kinda stuff. Montcalm’s voice dipping and striving between complex structures of an arranged musical marriage. A unison fitted with a first time scenario.

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“This is the first time I have played with French musicians in Quebec.” Admits Montcalm – herself a Quebec City native.”In Europe and France I have but never here at home.”

Montcalm has assembled a great ensemble of backing ‘musiciens.’ A group of young men consisting of elite talented craftsmen. Performing to the utmost of their musical ability.

Terez Montcalm (guitar, vocals), Jean-Sébastien Williams ( a man who Terez calls out as the best guitarist in the world), Pierre De Bethmann (piano), Christophe Wallemme (double bass) and Steve Williams (drums) simply deliver the goods. De Bethmann particularly adept with a beautiful piano solo in Superwoman.

The show was underway …

Wanna Be Starting Something‘,  Micheal Jackson’s great tune – displayed Montcalm’s vocal range. Anywhere from scat down to a sultry refined raspy tone, Terez delivered an array of voices which transcends all time. One moment she is a child and soon after a teenager, lost in the wilderness of peer pressure. A young adult then grabs the microphone and seduces. Anger creating the undertone. Jackson’s song evolves into a slowed down version of classic Jazz as the crowd grooves. Jackson would be proud.

“Tonight, judging by the crowd reaction.” Says Montcalm. ” Neil Young’s Philadelphia, Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie and ‘Je Reviens Te Chercher’ were my favorites. I am so happy they received the reaction they did.”

“If You Don’t Know Me by Now” – the song written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and recorded by  Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes ( also made famous by the group Simply Red), was instantly recognizable. Carried truthfully by Terez and her mates. The soul of the song traversing the crowd with sentiment while providing Montcalm’s ‘offspring’ –  the vision to introduce itself properly to the world of music. Not many would attempt to alter a tune embedded so profoundly within decades of music fans. Montcalm does. It  changes nothing to the fans of the original romantic classic.

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The Francophone  contingent were very boisterous welcoming their own. The political undertones very evident as Montcalm bantered with the patrons. Realistically, the majority of the best Jazz artists that come through these parts, speak English as their mother tongue. Even the Francophone greats perform Jazz standards written by Anglophone legends. Terez Montcalm herself, may one day be deemed legendary and the audience were not shy in making Terez aware of this potential outcome. They  let her and everyone in attendance know, with every standing ovation and amorous catcall – she is recognized as a true Quebec-er.

Montcalm sings and plays acoustic guitar and double bass, Montcalm is close to hitting the half century mark in age. This life experience of wisdom along with a musical education consisting of Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday and Shirley Horn – shines through in her singing. It is not just the fact her range is so various, it is her experience that is delivered sharply through lyrics. The tone is ‘ been there – done that’.  Very similar to all the greats as the years envelope their musical souls.

Terez Montcalm will be; ‘ Allright …”

It’s a feeling that a listener cannot shake yet they still want to follow to make sure …

01. Superwoman
02. If I Could Turn Around
03. Je reviens te chercher
04. Philadelphia
05. Wanna be Startin’ Somethin’
06. Lilly
07. Honest to the Bones
08. Fling
09. If You Don’t Know Me by Now
10. Chambre d’hôtel
11. I Could Have Told You
12. Tell It Like It Is
13. Ashes to Ashes

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