Looking towards Justin Trudeau’s new minority cabinet in Canada (with Ms Motis from Barcelona at the back of our minds)

Nov 17th, 2019 | By | Category: In Brief
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who told reporters after their meeting that his support ‘won’t come free,’ and he’s prepared for another election at ‘any time.’ The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade.”

It is somewhat agreeable to turn from the latest tweets on the sorta-civil-war front south of the northern US border to our slightly less antagonistic federal politics in what the Constitution Act, 1982 calls Canada’s present “free and democratic society.”

It is still more agreeable to turn from Canadian federal politics to some brief but compelling weekend YouTube adventures with the brilliant swing jazz prodigy from Barcelona, Andrea Motis – and her equally remarkable mentor and jazz educator at the Municipal School of Music of Sant Andreu, Joan Chamorro.

To get the only somewhat agreeable scene out of the way first, the next big event in Canadian federal politics will be the swearing-in of Justin Trudeau’s new Liberal minority cabinet, on Wednesday, November 20.

Then the freshly elected Canadian House of Commons will convene on Thursday, December 5. And Governor General Julie Payette will read the new minority government’s throne speech in the Senate, outlining its priorities. As explained by CTV News : “Traditionally, the vote on the throne speech is considered the first test of confidence in the House of Commons … considering the minority dynamics, the Liberals will need allies on the opposition benches to vote in favour in order for it to pass.”

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosted Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet at his West Block office on Nov. 13. Mr. Blanchet signalled where the Liberals can expect co-operation from his party … The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade.”

On all these matters we have quickly consulted, on the CBC and CTV sites : “Trudeau urged to give Freeland domestic portfolio, name her deputy PM” ; “May: Greens will vote against Liberal throne speech unless carbon targets toughened” ; “For the opposition, a dilemma: work with Trudeau, or cut him down early?” ; “Trudeau has a choice, work with NDP or work with Tories: Singh” ; “Would Blanchet go to Alberta to talk oil? ‘With pleasure’” ; “Blanchet spars with Kenney after meeting with Trudeau.”

Our initial quick and dirty sense is that the new Trudeau Liberal minority government is unlikely to fall right away on the throne speech. But how much longer it will last is no doubt anyone’s guess right now.

Both Jagmeet Singh and Elizabeth May seem to us to be pushing their initial demands harder than their actual numbers of seats in the Canadian House of Commons (and their current party treasuries) support. Yves-Francois Blanchet’s somewhat more weighty Bloc Québécois may be happy enough to help keep the new Liberal minority government led by a fellow Quebecer in office for some respectable length of time (18 months to two years on the historical experience?). And Mr. Trudeau probably can work sometimes with the NDP and other times with the Tories, despite Mr. Singh’s initial rhetoric. (Will even Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives vote against something crucial for the Trans Mountain Pipeline, eg?)

Andrea Motis playing “Petite Fleur” at 16.

Stay tuned for a further cautious assessment just before the December holiday season starts in earnest.

Meanwhile, listening to the 24-year-old Catalan jazz musician Andrea Motis and her mentor Joan Chamorro on YouTube this weekend has been both more entertaining and somehow more reassuring than keeping up with the latest North American political wrinkles (and much worse), even in Canada.

In some ways all this should be more properly dealt with on our presently o-so-gradually reviving companion site, BIRDHOP! Rumour has it that an article on “Remembering ‘Petite Fleur’ : Sidney Bechet, Andrea Motis … etc” has been planned for that cultural (as opposed to political – and economic) blogazine. And these few further words here are probably just a kind of teaser for this future article in another place, whenever it may finally get done in these too hectic times.

It may be best to start with a quotation from the often quite informative and not inaccurate Wikipedia : “Andrea Motis (born May 9, 1995) is a Catalan jazz singer and trumpeter who sings in Catalan, Spanish, Portuguese and English … From the age of seven, Motis developed musically at the Municipal School of Music of Sant Andreu, a neighborhood of Barcelona, becoming the school’s lead trumpeter and later saxophonist. In 2007, at twelve, she began to collaborate with the Sant Andreu Jazz Band, led by teacher and musician Joan Chamorro … In 2010, at the age of fifteen, she recorded an album of jazz standards, Joan Chamorro Presents Andrea Motis.”

Supporters of the Bloc Québécois in Canada could of course be happy about the Catalan separatist angle in Spain. (And Spain is having its own political crazy season on this and other fronts as well.) But what we find reassuring is how an assortment of often very young Spanish musicians of the early 21st century are bringing new life to the American swing jazz of the 1930s and 1940s. More will no doubt follow in the “Remembering ‘Petite Fleur’ : Sidney Bechet, Andrea Motis … etc” article on BIRDHOP, when it finally gets done.

Meanwhile again, here is a quick introduction to the subject on the remarkable musical resource that YouTube currently provides internet junkies like all of us :

(1) The best place to start is with the 16-year-old Andrea Motis’s quite enchanting rendition of Sidney Bechet’s 1952 classic “Petite Fleur,” as performed in Barcelona in 2011. Her mentor and teacher Joan Chamorro on this occasion is playing string bass. The youthful Ms Motis is playing a soprano saxophone – like Sidney Bechet himself. She also plays alto sax, trumpet, and sings beautifully (in four languages as above).

Andrea Motis (l) with Joan Chamorro (centre) and Scott Hamilton.

(2) Jumping ahead some four years – late 2014 or early 2015 – “Minor Swing” presents the altogether amazing young student musicians of Joan Chamorro’s Sant Andreu Jazz Band, aided by two senior musicians, the guitarist Jopsep Traver and the American swing tenor saxophone specialist Scott Hamilton. Andrea Motis plays trumpet here (and her younger sister Carla Motis also plays guitar). The piece features the young violinist Elia Bastida, underlining all its debts to the 1930s Quintette du Hot Club de France with legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stéphane Grappelli. (The work of violinist Elia Bastida, with a much smaller group including Joan Chamorro can also be sampled in a quite striking 2017 rendition of the Django Reinhardt classic, “Nuages.” Swing and other jazz in Spain today – even or especially in Catalonia – inevitably has European as well as American roots. And who would complain in the age of the global village?)

“Pedestrians cross Peel St. in downtown Montreal at the beginning of a major storm Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019… JOHN MAHONEY / MONTREAL GAZETTE.”

(3) Two numbers from 2015 offer intriguing sides of Andrea Motis’s work. In the first she plays alto sax in collaboration with the contemporary American altoist Jesse Davis, on the Duke Ellington classic “All Too Soon,” accompanied by the students of the Sant Andreu Jazz Band. In the second Andrea Motis sings the old American standard “Just Friends,” accompanied by the Andrea Motis Joan Chamorro Big Band – and of course in English.

(4) Just this past spring 2019 in Zurich, Switzerland the Andrea Motis Quintet (with “Josep Traver, guitarra ; Ignasi Terraza, piano ; Joan Chamorro, contrabajo ; and Esteve Pi, bateria) performed “Dança da solidão.” Ms Motis sings (in Portuguese here, we’re guessing?) And plays trumpet.

Someone should invite some suitable version of these talented people to play for the swearing-in of the new Trudeau cabinet this coming Wednesday, November 20. (But of course too many taxpayers – in both official languages – would complain about the waste of scarce tax dollars, that could be better spent on pipelines and public pharmacare programs for all, etc, etc, etc, etc.)

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