From the very first notes of Rachel Therrien’s latest album, Mi Hogar, listeners know they are in for a multifaceted sonic treat. An impressive showcase of the Canadian-born bandleader’s range, Mi Hogar marks the first outing of Therrien’s newly assembled Latin Jazz Project, an ambitious document of her work with expert musicians of the genre from New York City, Canada, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
The accomplished, JUNO-nominated trumpeter is a regular fixture on the New York jazz and Latin jazz scene. A bonafide virtuoso on the horn and an expert in numerous musical styles, Therrien has shared the stage with many a luminary including Tony Allen, Pedrito Martinez, Claudio Roditi, Billy Drummond, Anat Cohen and works regularly as a core member of Arturo O’Farrill’s GRAMMY® Winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra among many others. A prolific bandleader, her five previous releases (including the JUNO-nominated 2020 release Vena) have garnered critical acclaim, solidifying Rachel Therrien’s status as an ingenious composer and inspired improviser.
Mi Hogar represents a special release for Therrien, who has honed her skills playing in Latin Jazz ensembles for years, and whose love for the genre compelled her to travel to Cuba to research and study the music more than a decade ago. “The experience changed my life and is probably the reason why I am still a musician today. I always felt good playing Latin-influenced music, it is where I feel I can express myself the most musically. I have been dreaming of doing this project for many, many years and now I am finally sharing this with the world.”
The album title, which translates to ‘my home’ in Spanish, is a nod to the many places Therrien has lived over the years—from her native Canada, to Cuba and New York. It also speaks to another sanctuary in Therrien’s life: sound and community. In this global spirit, Therrien assembled Mi Hogar from a series of international recording sessions. It was fundamental for the bandleader to feature many of the musicians that have been a part of her musical journey. “I am grateful to have worked with 20+ musicians on this record. I really appreciate their confidence in me and friendship, on top of their incredible musicianship and virtuosity.”
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The album kicks off with the riveting “Capricho Arabe”, and features the notable Cuban pianist Miguel de Armas and esteemed bassist Alex Bellegarde before moving into her take on the Coltrane classic “Moment’s Notice.” A central figure in the New York City Latin Jazz scene, bassist John Benitez was a key collaborator on Mi Hogar, serving as a mentor to Therrien from the record’s early songwriting stages through its mastering. Benitez can be heard on next track “The Wizard” where he expertly supports the lyrical solos of altoist Roman Filiu and pianist Gabriel Chakarji before laying down a solo of his own.
Sitting at the center of the album (and the first single), Chakarji’s “Mojo” has an aesthetic that reminisces some Weather Report compositions but over a Latin-Jazz rhythmic template. The ever-shifting harmonies create a complex tapestry for Therrien to display her rich melodic vocabulary on, as well as her gorgeous tone on the Flugelhorn.
A Cuban rumba version of the iconic “Con Alma” serves as a nod to the early Latin Jazz explorations by master Dizzy Gillespie, which Therrien cites as her first first contact with the genre as a child. The track features Manuel Valera on piano who negotiates the fast tempo of the tune with ease. Brindis proves himself to be a valued player of the percussion section alongside Keisel Jimenez, Carlos Maldonado and Victor Pablo, who each maintain a momentum of brisk tempo while keeping the dynamics contained. The yield is a delightful and complex rhythm that each soloist celebrates.
An enigmatic introduction featuring the expert Batá drumming of Magdelys Savigne gives way to the mysterious melody of “Odessa”, a track dedicated to the city of the same name. The tune features a solo by pianist Danae Olano that works spare phrases into a dramatic climax, as well as a spotlight of bassist Roberto Riveron, who explores the entire range of his 6-string bass and smoothly leads the band back into the theme.
Therrien has a gift for writing captivating melodies, which is most-evident on her jubilant closer “Porcelanosa.” “It’s the dance piece of the album. I consider this one the ‘hit,” she says. Therrien initially wrote the composition on a piece of paper sitting in Madison Square Park and later superimposed it on a danceable rhythm Pilon. On it, pianist Willy Soto Barreto displays his knowledge of the Latin piano tradition with a rhapsodic, standout solo. Therrien and saxophonist Nestor Rodriguez exchange phrases in a robust musical dialogue before playing the last melody and wrapping the album in a bow. Throughout the entire album, drummer Michel Medrano Brindis proves to be a key collaborator, as a consummate accompanist and the only musician besides Therrien who plays on every track.
Therrien’s embrace of multiple musical lineages has helped her generate a singular approach to composing. “When you write original music, you can’t get rid of your musical background, history and influences; it all becomes part of you when you compose,” the keen artist shares. “The sound of this project is not the sound of a single band, it’s the sound of a community of people getting together to create music and connect.” That honesty and clear sense of identity shines throughout Mi Hogar and continues to position Therrien as one of the most exciting talents of the current jazz and improvised music landscape.
1. Capricho Arabe (9:19)
(Francisco Tarrega) Arranged by. Rachel Therrien
2. Moment’s Notice (5:27)
(John Coltrane) Arranged by Rachel Therrien
3. The Wizard (5:38)
(Rachel Therrien) Arranged by Rachel Therrien
4. Mojo (6:03)
(Gabriel Chakarji) Arranged by Gabriel Chakarji & Rachel Therrien
5. Con Alma (8:42)
(Dizzy Gilespie) Arranged by Rachel Therrien
6. Odessa (5:16)
(Rachel Therrien) Arranged by Rachel Therrien
7. Porcelanosa (4:34)
(Rachel Therrien) Arranged by Rachel Therrien
Rachel Therrien (Trumpet & Flugelhorn – All Tracks)
Michel Medrano Brindis (Drums – All Tracks)
Miguel de Armas (Piano – Track 1)
Julian Gutierrez (Piano – Track 2)
Gabriel Chakarji (Piano – Track 3,4)
Manuel Valera (Piano – Track 5)
Danae Olano (Piano – Track 6)
Willy Soto Barreto (Piano – Track 7).
Alex Bellegarde (Bass – Track 1,2)
John Benitez (Bass – Track 3,4,5)
Roberto Riveron (Bass – Track 6)
Luis Izquierdo (Bass – Track 7)
Roman Filiu (Sax – Track 3,4)
Nestor Rodriguez (Sax – Track 7)
Lazaro Martinez (Timbales Track 1, Congas Track 2 & 7)
Arturo Zegarra (Bongos Track 1, Timbales Track 2,7)
Melissa Lavergne (Congas Track 1, Bongos Track 7)
Keisel Jimenez (Congas Track 3,4,5)
Carlos Maldonado (Cajon Track 3, Bongos Track 4, Quinto Track 5)
Victor Pablo (Congas Track 5)
Magdelys Savigne (Batas Track 6)
Rachel Therrien is a Quebecer trumpetist, composer and producer working between New York and Montreal. She is considered one of the most promising jazz musicians of her generation (Downbeat, All About Jazz, Radio-Canada). Recognized for her personal touch and her influences of traditional jazz, afro-latin and prog rock, Rachel has a world class reputation, versatile and innovator.
Rachel Therrien won many contests and nominations, to name just a few: Grand Prize TD 2015 from the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the Stingray Rising Star 2016, a nomination at the Independent Music Award in New York for Best Jazz Album Producer in 2018 and the LOJIQ prize at Bourse RIDEAU 2018 so that she develops her career in France.
Rachel will release her 6th record but first Latin Jazz Project Album “Mi Hogar” in February 2023 under Outside In Music Record label. Therrien produced 5 albums in her name, the last, VENA, recorded in Paris in May 2019 with her Europeen Quartet with whom she tours Europe since 2017 was launched in the spring of 2020 under the French etiquette Bonsaï Music and wins 2 nominations for Jazz Album of the Year at the ADISQ and JUNO Awards as well as 4 stars at Downbeat. With her Montreal Quintet, Therrien produced 3 albums under the labels Multiple Chord Music (CA), and Truth Revolution Records (USA) including Why Don’t You Try (2017), winner of a critique in the Downbeat Editor’s Pick. In 2016, Rachel launched her first ethnomusicology research project with the world album Pensamiento: Proyecto Columbia (2016), recorded with 13 musicians in Bogota, Colombia. She is now working on her 6th album, this time purely Latin Jazz with about 20 special guests. This last project was recorded in Montreal, Toronto and New York in January 2022. The impressive press kit of Rachel Therrien includes a Grammy nomination as a side woman of the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and gratifying critics from many recognized news outlets (Le Devoir, La Presse, All About Jazz, New York Hot House, Downbeat, Latin Jazz Corner, …)
Carrying her project solo since 2009, Rachel Therrien performed her music in many festivals, theater and jazz clubs throughout the Americas, Europe and the Caribbean. To name just a few, special guest at the International Jazz Day in Odessa, Ukraine, the renowned French Festival Juan Les Pins Jazz Jazz Festival, Kremenchuk Jazz Festival in Ukraine, Polanco Jazz Festival in Mexico City, Havana Jazz Festival in Cuba, Lula World Festival in Toronto, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola and 55 Bar in New York, Andy’s Jazz Club in Chicago, B-Flat Berlin in Germany, Gode Jazz in Valencia, Spain as well as most of the Canadian Jazz Festivals. She gave masterclasses in Marciac, France, as well as at the North Carolina University and was invited in 2022 to participate at the International Trumpet Guild, a staple for trumpetists around the world. To see the list of all concerts: http://racheltherrien.com/past-shows/
Rachel obtained her first cycle Jazz diploma at Université de Montréal, an artistic management certificate, a music certificate from Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba and participated in 2012 at the Banff Center Jazz and Creative Music workshop where she met Dave Douglas and Vijay Iyer. Rachel also worked with many mentors including Ron DiLauro, Elpidio Chappotin, Laurie Frink, John McNeil, Jonathan Finlayson, Clarence Penn, Ralph Alessi and many more.
The talented trumpetist also performed alongside many renowned jazz and world artists: Tony Allen, the Grammy winner Arturo O’Farrill & Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Ostara Project, Roberto Fonseca, Michel Legrand, Pen Peplowski, Pedrito Martinez, Claudio Roditi, Ingrid Jensen, Anat Cohen, Miggy Augmented Orchestra, Darcy James Argue & Secret Society, Mariachi Flor de toloache, Yacouba Sissoko, Benito Gonzalez, Irving Acao, Tabou Combo, Skah Shah, Orchestre Septentrional d’Haïti, Klimax, Orquesta Anacaona, to name just a few. She also worked a few times for the Quebec T.V. show Belle et Bum where she accompanied big names including Alex Nevsky, Mara Tremblay, Daniel Boucher, Lisa Leblanc, Joseph Edgar, Marie-Josée Lord and the American folk singer Joseph Arthur.
Finally, Rachel Therrien plays a key role in the Montreal Jazz scene by promoting it and opening its borders as well as by being an example for emerging musicians and working for the community. In 2013, she founded the “Montreal Jazz Composers Series” that led more than 200 American and Canadian composers to perform their original music and to work together for an audience of old and young during the Montreal International Jazz Festival. She believes that jazz is “a philosophy of conversation between musicians of different backgrounds through improvisation, and as musicians, our mission is to work for the prosperity of the genre through ensuring that our generation of non-musicians is able to live and appreciate this language”.