A blend of jazz, rock and original
that expands boundaries

Beth McKenna delivers cool music at Dollard-des Ormeaux Library

By Byron Toben

November 23, 2023

Nova Scotia-bred Montreal resident Beth McKenna literally blew into Dollard on November 17 as its featured Cultural Friday Series performer for the evening. Appearing with five accompanists, the acclaimed wind instrumentalist performed many tunes from her album, Beyond Here. She composed these entries herself, a blend of jazz, rock and original that expanded boundaries.

Beth McKenna

Beth McKenna

Primarily a saxophonist, she also exhibited her skills on clarinet and flute, and even on the EWI, which I had never heard of before – it is a saxophone-like electronic wind instrument which can create chords normally heard on a piano.

Aiding and abetting her on guitar, Francois Jalbert, on bass, Olivier Babaz, on drums, Peter Calantonio, on keyboard, Guillaume Martineau, and with vocals, Sarah Rossy. No slouches, those five, constituting with Beth an amazing ensemble that kept the audience of about sixty tapping their toes and snapping their fingers.

A word about Ms. Rossy – as Ms. McKenna’s compositions included no words, just notes, the vocals were not clearly enunciated messages as with Ranee Lee or Mary Ann Lacey, but more like a human wind instrument, great on high pitches. I would like to hear her sometimes interpreting some jazz classics, but I digress.

At evening’s end, autographed copies of Beyond Here were available for purchase.

Keep an eye out for Dollard’s next musical Cultural Friday on December 1, when it hosts the popular Montreal group La Nef.

Images: Tam Photography

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Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated websites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner, and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.

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