From Vancouver to Toronto to Montreal, all of Canada's major cities have some type of jazz scene. In the '80s and '90s, one of Quebec's more enduring groups was the trio of acoustic pianist Francois Bourassa (which includes Guy Boisvert on upright bass and his brother, Yves Boisvert, on drums). Formed in 1983, the French-Canadian threesome was still going strong when the 21st century arrived. But unfortunately, Bourassa's trio only recorded a few albums in the '90s. One of them was Echo, which the Toronto-based Jazz Inspiration label released in 1996. This CD is an appealing example of the type of post-bop pianism that Bourassa brings to the table. Bourassa isn't an innovator, but he does have his own sound -- one that owes something to Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, and Chick Corea as well as McCoy Tyner and Paul Bley. The pianist tends to be poetic and impressionistic on original pieces like "Pendant Que Tout L'Monde" and "Bon Printemps"; however, he is also swinging. And for Bourassa, being intellectual doesn't mean that you cannot be lyrical -- one does not automatically rule out the other, and Bourassa obviously realizes that hitting the prettier notes doesn't necessarily mean that you have to be ultra-sentimental. Like Evans and Jarrett, Bourassa demonstrates that beauty and intellect are not incompatible; in fact, the two can work together and be equally important parts of the big picture. To his credit, the Quebec resident wrote everything on this CD (just as he wrote everything on his late-'90s release, Cactus). Many jazz pianists insist on playing a lot of overdone, beaten-to-death warhorses, but Bourassa is smart enough to realize that straight-ahead acoustic jazz does not have to be ultra-predictable repertory music. Echo makes one wish that Bourassa had recorded more often in the '90s.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson