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Montreal Jazz Pianist Papacho Sirdey in Concert

Papacho Sirdey

By Fredric Dannen

If you happened to be in Greenwich Village, New York City in the 1950s, you didn’t need a map to find the jazz underground. Any fan of the genre could have directed you to the Five Spot, the Village Vanguard, or a host of other places.  In the past several decades, however, far more New York jazz clubs have closed than opened. Nowadays, the club scene fares better in cities such as Montreal, which hosts one of the biggest jazz festivals in the world. Montreal establishments like the Dièse Onze and Café Résonance are thriving. And on the rue Papineau in Montreal, an atelier called the Casa Obscura, founded in 1993, is a magnet for jazz musicians. One former sanmiguelense has become a regular there, and in a concert on August 11 at the Bellas Artes, he will bring a slice of the edgy Montreal jazz scene to San Miguel.

Jazz Piano Trio
Papacho Sirdey, Adrian Flores,
and Victor Monterrubio
Tue, Aug 11, 7pm
Bellas Artes
200 pesos

Papacho Sirdey-Degagnés is himself a cultural hybrid. Born in Peru to a French father and French-Canadian mother, he spent part of his childhood in San Miguel, studied jazz and classical piano in Havana, and returned to San Miguel in 2008. (His father, Daniel Sirdey, runs the Cine Bacco movie theater at the Hotel Sautto.) He performed here regularly with some of the best local musicians, such as violinist Pedro Cartas and percussionist Victor Monterrubio. But the Canadian jazz scene beckoned, and a few years ago he settled in Montreal.

This concert is the latest edition of the theater’s so-called Steinway series—concerts featuring the Bellas Artes’ nine-foot Steinway concert grand. (Previous performers in the series have included pianists Ken Bichel and Gabriel Hernandez.) Called “Droppin’ in from Montreal,” the concert’s other performers are Víctor Monterrubio on drums and Adrian Flores on double bass.

San Miguel audiences who think they know Papacho’s musical style are in for a surprise. He still plays standards—concertgoers will hear an open, free improvisation morph into Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean A Thing”—and, he adds, “I’m keeping some traditional jazz concepts, influences from Coltrane and Monk and McCoy Tyner.” But the Casa Obscura school will be evident throughout his performance. He describes the Montreal style as “far-out stuff that keeps coming back to something groovy.”

All tickets are 200 pesos, with open seating, and can be purchased at Solutions, Recreo 11; La Conexión, Aldama 3; Los Milagros, Relox 17; or at the door on the evening of the concert. The Miguel Malo Auditorium is on the second floor of the Bellas Artes. About a third of the proceeds will go to an educational charity for rural Mexican children.


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