Lorraine Desmarais


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One of the improvisers active on the Montreal jazz scene in the 1990s, Lorraine Desmarais showed some promise on Vision, which was released in Canada on the Scherzo label and reached U.S. stores as an import. This diverse collection of post-bop, hard bop and fusion didn't make her a big name in the U.S., although Americans who happened to hear it saw that she was a swinging yet lyrical pianist/keyboardist as well as a versatile composer. Listening to the exuberant "Oscar" (presumably an ode to Oscar Peterson), the Bill Evans-ish "Andante" and the complex "The Third Kind," one might be inclined to think of Desmarais (who does all of the writing herself) as a straight-ahead player. But when the French-Canadian detours into fusion territory on the contemplative title song (which finds guitarist Michel Cusson providing a Pat Metheny-ish solo), the Latin-influenced "Samba," the sentimental "'Till You...." and the insistent "Jakarta," it becomes clear that she's equally comfortable in the electric jazz realm. Not a gem but generally satisfying, this CD is worth searching for.