TD Canada Trust Vancouver International Jazz Festival

Various Venues
Vancouver , B.C. Canada
June 22, 2007 - July 1, 2007
By: Larry Appelbaum

Francois Houle Tentet (with Jon Ballantyne, piano)

The biggest surprise of the festival was François Houle’s Tentet, which found the Vancouver-based leader’s unbridled clarinet solos framed by strongly swinging, harmonically challenging compositions performed by seasoned local players, with special guest saxophonist Fredrik Ljungkvist (from Stockholm) and French horn player Tom Varner (Seattle). Varner’s “Heaven and Hell: The Combo Platter,” and an arrangement of Steve Lacy’s “Wickets” were both deliciously unsettling, with clusters and shrieks from soloists and ensemble. Ljungkvist and Houle traded frantic fours on the surreal, hair-raising encore, which he described as a “21st-century version of Clarinet Marmalade.”