Benoît Charest The Spectrum, Montreal QC - July 9, 2004

A few months after his performance at the Oscars, Montreal's Benoît Charest brought his Triplettes de Belleville soundtrack to the stage at the jazz festival, infusing the 25th annual event with a flare of effervescent jazz-age ambience. Luckily, they stopped short of showing scenes from the film, last year's excellent animated feature by Sylvain Chomet, which would have diverted attention from their show, and should really be viewed on its own. Instead, they suggested pre-war cabaret with hot tuneage, a peppy MC and a dozen-odd musicians in tuxes and evening wear. Betty Bonifassi — Charest's wife and the singing voice of the triplets — made sporadic, spirited appearances in a series of gaudy retro gowns (complete with feathers and sequins), while film-related props like bicycle wheels and vacuum cleaners adorned the stage. The props became instruments in the second half of the show, with the wheel played percussively and the vintage Hoover manipulated Theremin-style. When he wasn't fiddling with household appliances, Charest strummed away at his acoustic guitar, his gypsy bop resonating like a motor within the din of piano, accordion, horns, woodwinds and drums. Together, their feisty homage to the music of the '30s provided something that's not always abundant at the jazz fest: crowd-pleasing proper jazz.