By Brian Zimmerman | Published October 2017
For several years, Quebec-born, Brooklyn-based trumpeter Rachel Therrien has been among the most innovative artists operating at the intersection of jazz and world music. Her geographic reach is awe-inspiring, taking in sounds from New Orleans trad-jazz and Cuban folk to Colombian funk and American rock ’n’ roll and routing them through her own audacious trumpet aesthetic. Therrien—who has toured and recorded with international artists such as percussionist Pedrito Martinez, pianist Roberto Fonseca, trumpeter Claudio Roditi and drummer Tony Allen—hones in on the jazzier elements of world music on her fourth album, Why Don’t You Try, offering 11 gripping originals that place groove and improvisation at the forefront. Fleshing out her sonic vision are drummer Alain Bourgeois, bassist Simon Pagé, pianist Charles Trudel and saxophonist Benjamin Deschamps, each of whom contributes one song apiece to this robust program. (The longtime working ensemble, which bills itself as the Rachel Therrien Quintet, won the Montreal Jazz Festival’s TD Grand Prize Jazz Award in 2015 and the Stingray Jazz Rising Star Award in 2016.) Opener “Spectrum,” written by the leader, gallops along at a blistering tempo. It has all the features of a hard-bop thriller: a highly syncopated melody, whipsaw drumming and alluring improvisational discourses (courtesy of Therrien and Deschamps). Meanwhile, “Demi-Nuit” is loose and free-flowing, with spacey keyboard chords that churn atop Bourgeois’ tempestuous snare groove. And a flute-and-muted-trumpet front line adds mystique to “CRS,” a quietly exotic tune that, while firmly entrenched in Miles Davis-esque fusion, culls together sonic hues from places as distant as Latin America, the Middle East and downtown New York. Therrien will lead a quartet at the CU Jazz Festival in Champaign, Illinois, on Oct. 22, and she’ll perform with her quintet at the Polanco Jazz Festival in Mexico City on Dec. 10.