UZEB

UZEB. Montreal jazz band in the fusion style. It was formed in 1976 in Drummondville, Que, by the guitarist Michel Cusson (b there 22 Jan 1957) and others. Following its debut 14 Aug 1976 at St-Euzèbe, Que, it took the name Eusèbe-Jazz, subsequently shortened to UZEB, and soon moved to Montreal.

UZEB

UZEB. Montreal jazz band in the fusion style. It was formed in 1976 in Drummondville, Que, by the guitarist Michel Cusson (b there 22 Jan 1957) and others. Following its debut 14 Aug 1976 at St-Euzèbe, Que, it took the name Eusèbe-Jazz, subsequently shortened to UZEB, and soon moved to Montreal. The drummer Jean St-Jacques and the bassist Alain Caron (b St-Eloi, Que, 5 May 1955) had joined Cusson by 1978; St-Jacques was replaced by Sylvain Coutu, and Coutu in 1980 by Paul Brochu (b Quebec City 5 Apr 1958). UZEB was completed by a keyboard/synthesizer player until 1987 - in turn, Stéphan Montanaro, Jeff Fisher, Michel Cyr, and its former drummer St-Jacques. It continued after 1987 as a trio: Cusson, Caron, and Brochu. UZEB's members also have worked as studio musicians throughout its history and the band itself accompanied Diane Tell and Claude Dubois on tours in 1980 and 1982 respectively.

UZEB enjoyed pop-star status in Quebec during the 1980s, winning Félix awards as group of the year in 1984 and 1989 (in competition with pop and rock bands) as well as for jazz album of the year in 1983, 1984, 1986, and 1987. In addition to many province-wide (and several national) tours, it appeared regularly at the FIJM, culminating in concerts at PDA in 1989 and 1991, an honor otherwise accorded by the festival only to Oliver Jones and Oscar Peterson among Canadian musicians. In 1991 UZEB received the FIJM's Prix Oscar-Peterson. The band's popularity and dazzling blend of instrumental technique and technology, which has offset a rather lacklustre repertoire of original compositions, has made UZEB a compelling model for young Quebec musicians and has accounted in part for the greater popularity of fusion in Quebec than elsewhere in Canada during the decade.

UZEB made its European debut in 1981 at the Bracknell (England) Jazz Festival, where the first of its several live albums was recorded. Beginning in 1983 with an appearance at the Festival de Jazz de Paris, UZEB enjoyed great popularity in France; it recorded LPs at the Olympia in Paris on its own and with the French violinist Didier Lockwood in 1986. UZEB also has appeared throughout Europe and in 1990 toured in the Far East. Its appearances in the USA, however, have been rare. Sales internationally of its eight recordings 1981-8 for the Montreal label Paroles et musique exceeded 200,000 by 1989, an unprecedented figure for a Canadian jazz group. UZEB's most popular compositions include Junk Funk, Smiles and Chuckles, Mile 'O', 60 rue des Lombardes, Spider, and Uzeb Club, most written by Cusson alone or in collaboration with other band members. A folio of 16 UZEB pieces, Compilation 1982-1988, was published in 1989 by Editions UZEB/Editions Luna-Mars.

Discography

with Montanaro
Live in/à Bracknell. 1981. RCI/PEM-532

with Cyr

Fast Emotion. 1982. WL-010

You Be Easy. 1983. WL-021

with St-Jacques

Between the Lines. 1985. WL-027

Live à Olympia. 1986. WL-034

Absolutely Live. Also, Lockwood violin. 1986. WL-035

as a Trio

Noisy Nights. 1988. PEM-047

Live in Europe. (1988). PEM-050 (CD reissue of PEM-532 and WL-034)

UZEB Club. 1989. Productions B.C.C.L. BCCL-0660

World Tour 90. 1990. Disques Avant-Garde AGCD-602


Further Reading

  • Miller, Mark. 'Quebec jazzmen make an impact,' CanComp, 178, Feb 1983

    'Uzeb: quelques questions au quartet quebecois,' Jazz Hot, Oct 1984

    Rioux, Christian. 'Drôle d'Uzeb,' L'Actualité, Dec 1989