Published Jul 08, 2016With the release of her debut LP Some Place Else late last year, Catherine LeBlanc looked to make jazz music more accessible to those who might have been put off by the genre's challenging nature. Her early evening set at Le Cercle, which drew heavily from the release, appealed to purists and those who don't know bebop from bossa alike.
Having written all of the record's music and lyrics, LeBlanc's material remained memorable without sacrificing the colour, texture and other intangibles inherent to jazz. Rarely leaving her lower register, her voice wasn't so much powerful as it was polished, each note sung with feeling whether singing or scatting. A vocal highlight was her original "Be a Man," in which she delivered the goading lyrics with a near snarl.
A talented trio also backed LeBlanc on keys, drums and upright bass, all getting a wealth of solo opportunities to showcase their chops. Keyboard player Antoine Lemieux-Rinfret delivered Rhodes work reminiscent of French jazz outfit Cortex with his solo on "Free Again" and Mathieu Rancourt worked the neck of his standing bass with authority during "Be a Man," while Claude Lavergne's drum solo in "Now I Know" was an excellent display of dynamic control and side-stick technique.