Festival International De Musique Actuelle  De Victoriaville 2015  
By Mike Chamberlain
All About Jazz
May 18, 2015  

At first, second, and third glance, the lineup for this year's 31st edition of the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville looked exceptionally strong, and over the first two days, happy to say that most of the performances have lived up to expectations, or at least have provoked discussion.  

The festival began innocently enough on Thursday at 8 at the Pavilion Arthabaska, a chalet overlooking the city of Victoriaville and the surrounding countryside, with a performance by Jason Kao Hwang's Burning Bridge octet, a string and brass band that played a sort of American free jazz with Chinese inflections and blues tonalities. Violin, pipa, erhu, and bass faced off across the stage with tuba, trumpet and trombone, doing a suite of compositions from Hwang's recording "Burning Bridge." Hwang's group achieved the balance that they were looking for. The compositions featured sections of duos, in all possible permutations of the string/bass combination, and the playing was full of color and texture, detailed, voices emerging unexpectedly behind whatever was the momentary focus. The colorings of Joe Daley's tuba and Sun Li's pipa were astonishingly subtle and effective, and the soloing of Hwang, trumpeter Herb Robertson and trombonist Steve Swell was inspired.