Groove – Episode #104: Normand Guilbeault
Immerse yourself in the vibrant rhythm of a maestro’s journey, Normand Guilbeault, who has been at the heartbeat of Canada’s jazz and improvised music sphere for over 40 years. This virtuoso double bassist, composer, and multi-talented artist continues to command respect, being both the puppeteer and star player of a plethora of ground-breaking projects.
Guilbeault’s finesse on the bass strings and his leadership in crafting musical narratives have made him a sought-after accompanist for homegrown and international artists. This has also earned him numerous accolades and recognition from esteemed institutions like the Canada Council for the Arts.
Guilbeault’s musical romance with Montreal’s jazz royalty, such as Nelson Symonds and Bernard Primeau, is well documented. He himself became the headliner in the late ’80s, with his ensemble even bagging the Du Maurier Jazz Prize at the Montreal International Jazz Festival in ’94. A few years later, The Jazz Report honored him with “Acoustic Jazz Group of the Year.”
Guilbeault’s distinctive style and rhythmic prowess enchanted international artists like Paul Bley and Kurt Rozenwinkel. Quebec’s eclectic creators, including Karen Young and René Lussier, became regular collaborators. Guilbeault’s Anishinaabe-Algonquin Métis heritage is a proud melody that plays throughout his life’s symphony. His contributions to the First Nations art scene are significant, involving dynamic collaborations with talents like filmmaker Alanis O’bomsawin and poet Natasha Kanapé Fontaine. Besides music, his social work resonates with the First Nations’ cause, manifesting in his tenure as an Indigenous liaison officer at a federal penitentiary and his current role as a spiritual advisor at the Waseskun Healing Center.
Noteworthy works like ‘Hommage à / to Mingus and Kawandak’ echo his inspired artistic endeavors. And let’s not forget his role as a co-founder of the Montreal Off-Jazz Festival, adding another vibrant string to his bow. This kaleidoscope of daring endeavors affirms Guilbeault as an indispensable force in jazz’s vibrant music scene. Decades into his career, his music continues to jazz up the canvas of our musical landscape whether he’s putting music to the poetry of Jack Kerouac or bringing his Tribute To Mingus at this summer’s Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Enjoy the conversation…