From Montreal, double bass player and songwriter Normand Guilbeault has been part of the elite of Quebec’s and Canada’s jazz communities for nearly 35 years. However, we cannot summarize Normand Guilbeault’s career by mentioning only his jazz achievements. As a multidisciplinary musician and artist, Guilbeault is active in a plethora of fields: music, literature, cinema, poetry, history and social issues.
In the last few years, the influence of his aboriginal roots took a central place in both his life and his music. In addition to creating the Kawandak project, an aboriginal show, he also works in social and cultural fields associated to the First Nations. Guilbeault worked as an aboriginal liaison officer at the Drummondville federal penitentiary and hosts educative workshop and conferences about his experience and knowledge of North American aboriginal culture. Normand his currently working part time as a «spiritual helper» at the Waseskun Healing Center, a transition house for aboriginal men on parole. Recipient of numerous awards and Arts Council Grants, Guilbeault has gained public acclaim with the Normand Guilbeault Ensemble (winner of the Prix de Jazz duMaurier at the 1994 Festival International de Jazz de Montréal), whose 1994 album Dualismus [Red Toucan] was followed by Basso Continuo in 1995 and, with guest artist Jean Derome, Hommage à Mingus in 1996 [both on Justin Time]. The Jazz Report Magazine (Canada) voted the ensemble “Acoustic Jazz Group of the year” for 1997. First known for his associations with leaders of the Montreal jazz scene (Nelson Symonds, Jean Beaudet, Bernard Primeau, Wray Downes, Stan Patrick), Guilbeault also worked with international artists such as Paul Bley, Sheila Jordan, Marilyn Crispell, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Christian Escoudé. He also collaborated regularly with various local virtuosos from all sorts of backgrounds, Richard Desjardins, Karen Young and Jean Derome, to name a few.
The fusion of strong traditions and powerful music!
Kawandak (white spruce in algonquin language), put together by songwriter and double bass player Normand Guilbeault, is a combination of North American aboriginal folk music (from Quebec, Canada and the United-States) and occidental music. As inspiration fuels the project, blues, rock music, jazz and folk music are integrated to the compositions along with a few interpretations of contemporary aboriginal classics. Kawandak evacuates clichés and opts for a novel approach to traditional aboriginal chants. As a true «Power Group», the ensemble presents a diverse, rich and authentic crossbreeding of music. One can’t help but to be drawn to this music: songs of love and hope, poetry, political and social themes… An ode to nature and the Sacred! Traditional aboriginal songs arranged as jazz / blues / rock music along with some material from modern artists such as Randy Wood, Jim Pepper and Buffy Ste-Marie, that is what Kawandak offers. 2016 added even more momentum to the project through the addition of two new contributors. The fantastic Michel Faubert, singer and storyteller, joins the group and enriches the aboriginal realm of Kawandak with his compelling prosody and his easily recognized tone of voice. Also, singer Annie Poulain contributes in a singular fashion to the renewal of the music. These new members will be strongly
supported by the group’s pioneering musicians: Claude Lavergne on drums, Sylvain Provost on guitar and Normand Guilbault on double bass, voice,arrangements and musical direction.