Press Release: Quatuor du Nord - ER 0708

Quatuor du Nord - Cover ImageElephant Records Inc. Laval University & Outside Music
Presents the New Jazz Quartet

Quatuor Du Nord

By Saxophonists
Janis Steprans, André Leroux, Jean Fréchette and David Bellemare

Elephant Records, Laval University and Outside Music are proud to present a new release from outstanding jazz quartet, Quatuor du Nord. This is the latest CD from composer, saxophonist and band leader Janis Steprans. The CD also features three talented saxophonists, André Lehoux, Jean Fréchette, David Bellemare accompanied by a rhythm section featuring Simon Lévesque and François Côté.

The CD highlights five compositions by Steprans, two rearranged jazz standards, Ugly Beauty by Thelonious Monk and Holy Land by Cedar Walton as well as several Romanian dances by Bartok arranged for saxophone quartet. The strength and solidity of these four musicians, the modern arrangements by Janis Steprans instills a rich and energetic diversity to this production.

Janis Steprans director, composer and saxophonist has worked with various groups and orchestras. He has been an active member of the Vic Vogel Big Band since 1980. After participating as a musician on dozens of CD recordings, Janis recorded three of his own CDs and is now releasing his fourth album. He taught music at McGill and Bishop Universities for several years and now teaches at Laval University. He also acted as head of the undergraduate jazz program at Exeter University, in England. Inspired from his homeland Latvia, his musical style is unique and colourful.

Born in Montreal in 1958, Janis started playing saxophone while in high school. He was accepted at McGill University in 1975, where he was awarded first prize for composing a concerto. He later studied with saxophonist Joe Allard at New England Conservatory (NEC), where he mastered in Jazz Studies in 1984. While at NEC, he played on a recording of American composer George Russel’s Living Time Orchestra. He taught for several years’ Jazz composition, Jazz history, and Jazz saxophone at McGill University in Montreal, where he completed his PhD in Music in the year 2000.

Over the years, Janis participated in several CBC Radio recordings. He performed with a number of notable Quebecois jazz musicians such as Oliver Jones, Charles Biddle, Ranee Lee, Charles Ellison, Kevin Dean and Denis Christianson. With his jazz group, he accompanied visiting jazz artists such as Slide Hampton, Paquito D’Rivera, Randy Brecker and John Pizzarelli. As a member of the Vic Vogel Big Band, Janis participated in Dizzy Gillespie’s concert presented at the 1989 Montreal International Jazz Festival. He has recorded three CDs under his own name, New Morning 1991, Second Set 1995, Influence 1999. He featured as a soloist on Jim Hillman’s recording The Merlin Factor, which was awarded the 1993 Juno for best contemporary jazz album of the year.

Janis and his quartet were selected twice as finalists for the Montreal International Jazz Festival’s annual Prize of Jazz DuMaurier. He has also performed with the Montreal Symphonic Orchestra and the National Arts Center Orchestra, in Ottawa. In 1996, he accompanied the Count Basie Orchestra during their visit to Montreal. In 1999 he was selected as Canada’s representative for the European Broadcast Union Jazz Orchestra, which recorded a live television broadcast during the 2000 Bergen Jazz Festival in Norway. Later that year, he performed his own compositions for the Soirée Jazz Selmer at the XII World Saxophone Congress in Montreal.

In 2003 He played concerts at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and at the University NATAL in South Africa, also touring the Saxophonia Festival, in Riga Latvia. In 2005 Janis presented his group at the Montreal OFF Jazz Festival, as well as at the Saulkrasti Jazz Festival, in Latvia. In 2006 He played at the Montreal International Jazz Festival and the Ottawa Jazz Festival with the John Pizzarelli Big Band and gave several concerts in Quebec City. Since then he has been invited to perform as guest saxophonist with lead saxophonist Chet Doxas Quartet at the Montreal Off Jazz Festival, a concert which was recorded by Radio-Canada’s Espace Musique in the Palais Montcalm.  He took part in Kevin Dean’s Quintet concert at Upstairs in Montreal. He made another appearance this year with his quartet at the Montreal Off Jazz Festival and was guest clarinettist for Dave Brubeck’s concert at the Montreal International Jazz Festival.

In his new CD, Janis Steprans presents a completely new version of the jazz saxophone quartet with a tint of Slavic root (Bartok’s Romanian dances). Absolutely magnificent!