Jean-Michel Blais is a 33-year-old pianist from Montreal whose enchanting instrumental compositions pair melodic pop sensibilities with the breathtaking technical skill of classical minimalism.
Blais grew up in a rural French Catholic town in Quebec bereft of formal music training. At age 11, he began tinkering on his family’s organ, improvising and writing original compositions. A natural talent, by 17 he was invited to the Trois-Rivières Music Conservatory and began training as a classical pianist. Gravitating towards experimentation, he left the school after three years. He later attracted the attention of playwright-director Robert Lepage, before heading to Europe and taking a break from music.
Blais released his debut album of original compositions, Il, in 2016 on Arts and Crafts, condensing two years of daily improvisations into a blindingly bright exploration of piano textures that bridges ethos and musical styles. Il received fantastic reviews, and was one of TIME Magazine’s top 10 albums of the year. His recent collaboration Cascades, with Grammy Award-winning producer Mike Silver (aka CFCF), for the 2016 Red Bull Music Academy was named Apple Music’s Best of the Week.
Experience Blais’ solo sound in The Famous Spiegeltent on the 15th and then see him and CFCF perform Cascades on June 24 at Longboat Hall (The Great Hall), 1087 Queen Street West.
Photo by Isis Essery/Arts & Crafts