Will Bonness – Is This A Dream? (ENG review)

Street date: June 16th 2023
Will Bonness – Is This A Dream? (FR review)

This fourth album by composer and pianist Will Bonness is a source of wonder, both in terms of compositions and arrangements, as well as the sheer joy of the musicians’ performances featured on this album. Following the success of his JUNO award-winning album “Change of Plans”, Bonness drew inspiration from his time in Toronto, where he met and collaborated with clarinetist Virginia MacDonald, double bassist Daniel Fortin, and saxophonist Allison Au. Completing the ensemble are vocalist Jocelyn Gould and drummer Fabio Ragnelli, both of whom were present on his previous recording. “Is This a Dream” presents a blend of original compositions by Will Bonness and covers of renowned composers such as Hoagy Carmichael, Billy Strayhorn, Cole Porter, and Tom Harrell.
Undoubtedly, you will be surprised to hear a voice, precisely on the second track of the album, which emerges like a poetic dream and leads you into a universe that will make you appreciate the third track and so on. We are taken by the hand and guided through musical galleries, like evocative canvases that speak to our souls—an exquisite qualitative exercise guided by the talented cohesion of the group, never succumbing to the lure of simplicity.
Listening to this album, one can understand the wealth of ideas that come from Will Bonness’ experiences, knowing that he has crossed paths with Jon Gordon, Avishai Cohen, Quincy Davis, Jimmy Greene, and Derrick Gardner, as well as the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, and the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra. This excellent group accompanying Will Bonness on this album consists of Virginia MacDonald on clarinet, Jocelyn Gould on vocals (tracks 2, 4, 8), Allison Au on alto saxophone (track 9), Daniel Fortin on bass (tracks 1-4, 6-9), Andrew Goodlett on bass (tracks 1, 7), and Fabio Ragnelli on drums.
The collection of compositions forms a highly contemporary work, incorporating influences from classical music as seen in many European jazz albums. However, here it is infused with a distinctive groove, reflecting cultural nuances. Just like in the upcoming album by the exceptional saxophonist Bonacina, set to be released in September and which I will discuss next month.
Virginia MacDonald’s clarinet serves as a character within these pieces, with her delicate and rare interpretation adding a touch of sensitivity. In fact, delicate interpretation is the golden rule for each musician on this album, which deeply moved the editorial teams at Bayou Blue Radio and Paris-Move, placing this album at the top of their “Essential” recommendations.

Thierry De Clemensat
Correspondent in USA
Bayou Blue News – Bayou Blue Radio – Paris-Move

PARIS-MOVE, June 12th 2023