Sonic Bids

Click here to read about Michelle Grégoire on Sonic Bids

Press Quotes

“The rich colours and divergent harmonies in her compositions often give the impression there are more than two horns involved. The intricate lines she writes for bass provide a chant-like counterpoint to her melodies, and her subtle, slow-burning piano playing keeps the listener leaning in anxiously to hear what’s next.” -Doug Fischer, The Ottawa Citizen

“The MacDonald/Turcotte horn line sells an elegant version of vintage Blue Note swagger on the more forward tracks, velvet deep cadences on the balladry. Behind them, there is abundant graceful playing, but also detailed construction – a resolution in motion of questions about dialogue, counterpoint, density and punch. Without spooking the proverbial horses of jazz tradition, Reaching is a healthy reminder that post-bop jazz need not always be mapped as head, vamp and sequential solos. That this music is as welcoming as a hug is, perhaps, a bonus” –Excerpt from CODA feature article, Sept/Oct issue, 2005

“Apart from the expert tailoring of her arrangements…and the seamless way in which the solos emerge from the charts, Gregoire’s style is post-bop — modern in rhythmic and harmonic style…happily easy on the ear without sacrificing its integrity to commercialism…There is nothing literal or imitative about Gregoire’s musical style. What comes together on Reaching is a very fine balance among its musical ideas…Gregoire herself plays transparent figures, clear melodic lines with a light touch and a glowing finish, and influences her quintet to play like a little big band — without the punch, but full of colour, leaving the intensity to the improvised solos — just exactly the kind of environment in which these first-rank players thrive.” Stephen Pedersen – Chronical Herald, Halifax

“Her sense of balance and direction, meanwhile, is abundantly clear in the music she has them playing…It is, in very general terms, jazz of the post-bop sort. That’s both a temporal and stylistic qualification, dating from the mid-1960s and referring to the twists and turns melodically, harmonically and rhythmically, that forward-thinking musicians of that era employed to free themselves from bebop’s strictures — musicians who recorded for the Blue Note label, by and large. Herbie Hancock was one, Wayne Shorter another. Grégoire’s opening tune on Thursday, Minor Alterations, was very much in the post-bop idiom without turning into an exercise simply in revivalism. It was a challenging piece, unfolding at length as it did in shifts and stages, but it came with a flow and logic that made it seem complete in and of itself, no matter what else Turcotte, Grégoire and MacDonald (in that order) added by way of development in their solos. Grégoire’s other compositions in the evening’s first set were of a more modern cast — post-post-bop as it were — and none moreso than Reaching, which in both title and design revealed the very recent influence of the American Maria Schneider. This was a lovely piece with airy, floating quality that carried Turcotte through a long, stirring trumpet improvisation. Grégoire’s own solos at the piano tended to be patient in their delivery and rather pretty in their touch and contouring, neither as ambitious as her writing nor as urgent as the efforts of her fellow musicians. MacDonald, especially, likes to seize a solo by the scruff of the neck; he’s a commanding presence in any band. In each case, though, the contrasts that Grégoire introduced into the music from the keyboard were quite effective dramatically. Tension is fine, but a little respite here and there makes it all the more delicious.” – Mark Miller, Globe and Mail

“In jazz, processing the lessons of tradition is far more interesting than paying respect. Winnipeg pianist/composer Michelle Grégoire draws on the elegant brawn of high-period Blue Note artists such as Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock in her debut, channeling small-group muscularity and groove through interesting melodies that are far more than spring-boards for solos. Certainly, bass players will admire her penchant for writing mobile underpinnings; played in tandem with Jim Vivian, they provide both an anchor in turbulent modes and also an engine for contrary motion against the nicely weighted horn line of Kirk MacDonald (tenor and soprano saxes) and Kevin Turcotte (trumpet and flugelhorn). Even in the ballads there is a feline, pad-and-pounce watchfulness, marking a canny writer.” – Randall McIlroy, Style Manitoba

“Grégoire is clearly in command of a broader harmonic knowledge, yet her playing style is all about elegance, subtlety, and understatement. No sharp edges mar her approach, and she builds her solos gradually and with great care. As much as Grégoire’s heart is in the mainstream–and there is a clear Kind of Blue vibe to some of Reaching–she isn’t trapped in a time warp. Reaching may be approachable, but in a way that doesn’t sacrifice invention, interplay, and understated strength.”– John Kelman – All About Jazz

“Michelle Grégoire…who has studied with such notables as Bob Brookmeyer, Maria Schneider and Kenny Wheeler, proves herself as a capable composer, with eight thought-provoking originals. Like her mentors, Grégoire has a knack for utilizing intriguing voicings, and avoiding predictable charts. Her wistful “December 1st” showcases MacDonald’s buoyant tenor sax, while her twisting ballad “Miles Away” also has a bittersweet air, with MacDonald switching to soprano sax. Grégoire demonstrates her bop chops in the strutting “Blues For Us” and one can easily imagine other post-bop/hard-bop bands interpreting her brisk composition “Knock It”. Grégoire’s lush solo is the centerpiece of the samba-flavored “Lost and Found” braketed by MacDonald’s soprano sax and Turcotte’s tasty muted trumpet. This is a superb effort by a pianist and composer deserving wider recognition, especially outside of her native land.” – Ken Dryden, CODA Sept/Oct issue, 2005

“Pianist and composer Michelle Grégoire, a mainstay of Winnipeg’s jazz scene, impresses with her debut CD that employs four Toronto sidemen to illuminate the strength of her writing. She’s fond of melody on the eight longish originals here, but her concepts are broad enough to let colleagues roam in between the fascinating structures with which she gears ensemble statements and exits, a style immediately apparent on the rugged opener “Minor Alterations.” Her comping and soloing are always poised, suffused with a stealthy subtlety that lets the tunes breathe and develop. Her ingenious creations are all of interest, from the hard-nosed (“Knock It,” “Joe’s Tune”) to the reflective (“Lost And Found,” “December 1st”) and the hip (“Blues For Us”). Ah, yes, the sidemen. They are trumpeter Kevin Turcotte, saxophonist Kirk MacDonald, bass Jim Vivian and drummer Ted Warren, who all revel in their roles and this music.” Geoff Chapman, Toronto Star

MGQ Opens for Branford Marsalis:
“The opening band, the Michelle Gregoire Quintet, consisted of local pianist Gregoire and some of the top players in the Canadian jazz scene, saxophonist Kirk McDonald, trumpeter Kevin Turcotte, bassist Jim Vivian and drummer Ted Warren. These are the same players who performed on Gregoire’s much lauded debut CD, 2004’s Reaching. Gregoire proved herself to be not just a fine pianist, at times beautifully tinkling the keys when not swinging, but also a formidable composer, as the performance included some of her originals that I wanted to hear again, that the audience responded well to. Drummer Ted Warren was not just there to keep time, but to also entertain in his own right, with his own unforgettable style, which was quite notable on some of the original Gregoire compositions. He doesn’t play it safe and always looks likes he’s having a great time, with his constant grin. The duo of McDonald and Turcotte each took turns soloing and earning well deserved applause. When Turcotte blasted out notes on the trumpet, he seemed to have the entire room’s attention…At the end of the show, each member of the Marsalis band was supplanted and then replaced by a member of Gregoire’s band, until the entire band had changed, save for Marsalis. First, it was Ted Warren plunking down a stool beside Justin Faulkner and working a single drum until he took over Faulkner’s kit. Kirk McDonald then appeared, taking Branford’s spot. Michelle Gregoire sidled up to Joey Calderazzo and in one smooth move, took over the keyboard as he deftly slid off. Finally, Eric Nevis gave us the bass to Jim Vivian. Seeing one band virtually replaced with another while the music kept on playing was a real treat and a sign of the type of gracious person Branford is. The move had audience members applauding wildly and breaking out ear to ear smiles. Trinimans Blog, June 2009:

Canadian pianist, MICHELLE GREGOIRE is remarkable and continues this spirit as such with her new REACHING CD. An excellent pianist and writer as expressed on this CD, Michelle Gregoire hits all the right notes in the post modern. We played a straight ahead “Blues For Us” and a sardonic “Joe’s Tune.” Michelle is a remarkable musician and a fine writer who devotes much of her time with the Winnipeg scene and has… commiserated with one of todays greats Lioness post modern composers, Maria Schneider. For beyond our pop culture purview there’s a steady regaling undercurrent  of very serious and talented musicians that’ll carry the score.” – Dick Crockett, Still Another Jazz Show – Sacramento, CA

“Sounds like…is an operative phrase, for this lady is very original with great depth and imagination, remarkably proficient on piano and dynamically sensitive to the kind of play you don’t get off the rack at the mall or on commercial tv. This is the profound music of our hip unencumbered daily lives, a kind of magnetism that history repeats in harmonic balance, serious, melodic and open, free and swinging. Michelle Gregoire is a wondrous and swinging musician, we certainly can and do love down here and her boisterous iconoclast is most appreciated.” Dick Crockett, Still Another Jazz Show – Sacramento, CA