Composer and pianist François Bourassa leads one of Canada’s most active recording and touring jazz ensembles which will soon celebrate its 25th birthday. The quartet is composed of François, Guy Boisvert (on bass), the celebrated saxman André Leroux and the young drum prodigy Philippe Melanson. West African percussionist Aboulaye Koné joined the group on the last album, bringing a “world” flavour to François’ compositions: this great line up performs on the album Rasstones, (plus drummer Greg Ritchie): it was released in September 2007 on Effendi Records. François’ career has had major impetus from two events: a 6-month residency in New York City (2005) which brought out a desire to play as much as he possibly could; and winning the Montreal International Jazz Festival’s new talent competition in 1985, which led to the start of his recording career.
Since then, the band has recorded six albums and has toured festivals, clubs and cultural centres around the world, including in the UNITED STATES, FRANCE, the UNITED KINGDOM, BELGIUM, SPAIN, POLAND the NETHERLANDS, INDIA, KOREA, CHINA, JAPAN, MEXICO, and RUSSIA, as well as numerous trips across Canada. Festivals played include the prestigious North Sea, Utsav, Yokohama and of course, Montreal Jazz Fests. François and his musicians have opened for luminaries such as Dizzy Gillespie, Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland, Stan Getz, Abbey Lincoln, Wynton Marsalis, Dave Brubeck and Ravi Coltrane. “Keep on doing that s___ that you’re doing.” Wayne Shorter said to the band after they opened for him on a Western Canadian tour.
François Bourassa’s own compositions are featured on seven critically acclaimed recordings, Reflet 1 (1986), Jeune Vieux Jeune (1993), Echo (1996 - which received major distribution in North America and Japan), Cactus (1998), Live (2001-–winner of Canadian JUNO for Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year), and Indefinite Time (2003- winner of the FELIX award in Quebec). Live (Effendi Records), was recorded at Toronto’s Top of the Senator and featured a Monk medley and a tribute to Herbie Nichols; Indefinite Time (Effendi) also won an OPUS award in Jazz/World music and featured an Ornette Coleman piece, and tributes to Wayne Shorter and Boubacar Traore; mostly though the band records his own compositions. In France it received a coveted Choc! in Jazzman Magazine; and US critics were unanimous that it was time this artist’s music was known south of the border. His latest recording, Rasstones (2007 Effendi) is nominated for a Juno, a Felix, and won the Opus award 2009 (best album in jazz/world). French critics (Jazzman, JazzMag, Citizen Jazz..) have raved about his composing, improvising, and the band’s cohesivenes.as it was released in October 2008 in Europe.
Mark Miller, of Canada’s Globe and Mail, has commended François for “not playing the usual standards”. In fact, he has composed several commissioned pieces, including works for Effendi Records’ JazzLab, Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal, a Jazz Mass, and for classical ensembles Amati and that of percussionist Marie-Josée Simard. Over the years, François and his group have received numerous composing, touring and recording grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec. Recently he has recorded and performed with Quebec artists Yannick Rieu, Alain Caron, Jean Derome, Tim Brady and Pierre Tanguay, as well as tours with Quasar and Jeanne Rochette. François Bourassa recently appeared on two popular compilations (Montréal Variations – Analekta; Berceuse pour Philou ¬– Effendi).