Last night – Friday, November 18, 2022 – I had the pleasure of attending Mathieu Soucy’s CD launch for his full-length debut album Recollecting. It was a wonderful evening of new friends, good food and great music…
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Soucy is a relatively young Montreal Jazz Guitarist who has been making quite a splash on the scene these days as a player, educator and composer with a nicely balanced style that has one foot planted firmly in the tradition and one foot planted firmly in the now. This balance is quite discernible throughout his debut CD and of course, his live performances, as Soucy strives – and succeeds in my opinion – in finding a unique voice by way of his musical influences the likes of Barry Harris, Lennie Tristano, Mark Turner and Peter Bernstein, who Mathieu had studied with.
In the sold-out first set, Soucy and his quartet paid tribute to those mentors with tunes like “Blues for Barry”, “Lennie’s Changes” and “Turner Days” which can all be found on his new CD. The band played eight tunes in all and as a friend stated during one of the tunes “…these are not your typical II-V-I standard tunes!” and he was quite right. I’ll save it for the CD review, but suffice it to say that Soucy is not content to just play/compose the “same old, same old”…not that there’s anything wrong with that 🙂
And speaking of the CD, joining Soucy on the Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill stage last night were three out of the four distinguished players who helped make Recollecting possible. Mike de Masi on Bass, birthday boy Jacob Wutzke on Drums and Gentiane MG – who favors a more modern sound as well – on Piano brought their A Game to the bandstand and treated the audience to a musical excursion of skill, support and taste (Singer Caity Gyorgy was unavailable but was honorably mentioned). All got to showcase their talents on nearly every tune and while the artistry was high throughout the first sold-out set, there were a few standout moments for me.
Playing a gorgeous Levin Royal archtop from 1951, mounted with a Lollar repro of a McCarty pickup/pickguard through a 1979 Fender Vibrolux amp, Soucy’s beautiful solo intro to “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” was one of them as he demonstrated a sensitivity and technique that left the audience attentive and silent. You could hear a pin drop. Not an easy thing to do when playing in a small, intimate venue where drinks, dinner and conversations are the norm.
Another special moment was on the final tune “5th Avenue” where towards the end, bass and drums traded 8’s and then 4’s in a climatic, energy filled finale that had the audience erupting with wild applause!
Oh…there was one more fun moment where Soucy got everyone to sing the French version of “Happy Birthday (Bonne Fête)” to Jacob Wutzke whose birthday was that same day. A special moment indeed!
As mentioned at the top, all in all it was a wonderful evening of great music and support from friends and family alike. Mathieu Soucy is indeed a player to keep an eye – and ear – on as he will only get better and better as time and opportunity permits.
With that in mind, consider checking out Soucy on all of the popular streaming platforms…or better yet, check out his website and purchase a physical copy which will help Soucy continue to do what he does best…play great music.
Special thanks to the Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill for their accommodating staff. The Upstairs Burger still rocks after all these years!
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If you would like to support all the work I do on Jazz Guitar Life, please consider buying me a coffee or visiting the Jazz Guitar Life sponsors. Thank you and your patronage is greatly appreciated regardless if you buy me a coffee or not 🙂