Recipients of twelve award nominations, including seven for the 2013 album, Chasse-Galerie (The Flying Canoe), Quebec’s MAZ have set themselves apart with their winning mix of folk, jazz and electro, which is inspired by tradition, but reaches for new and unbounded territories. For the band’s third and latest album, titled ID, the music is sung and danced – “speaking to the heart, body and soul – without losing the mind!”
Roger Lévesque of Penguin Eggs Magazine praises the group’s music as “uplifting stuff, old and new, rustic and high-tech all at once.” Marc Maziade (electric guitar, banjo, foot percussion, programming and vocals), Pierre-Olivier Dufresne (violin, mandolin, foot percussion and vocals), Roxane Beaulieu (keyboards, vocals) and Hugo Blouin (double bass, keyboards and vocals) are brilliant musicians who, on stage as MAZ, form a deeply palpable connection, offering trance-inducing grooves, engaging sound textures and frenzied foot stomps.
MAZ’s 2012 debut release, Télescope, laid the groundwork for the band’s unique style, which combines traditional Québécois music, modal jazz and electronica. Through this album – often described as futuristic – MAZ already began to reveal their modern take on Québec’s past and present, earning them five award nominations, including one in the JUNO’s instrumental album category.
In a March 2016 interview with Vancouver’s The Georgia Straight (“Quebec’s MAZ aims to build cultural bridges”), Marc Maziade said: “The core is to try and start from French-Canadian traditional music. But there’s this big question about blending or melding in my mind—I didn’t want to force things together quickly and go, ‘Here you go! French-Canadian music with an Arabic twist!’ What I wanted to do was reflect on our French-Canadian traditional music heritage, but reflect on it from a universal perspective. So the idea was to meld French-Canadian music, which implies spending time with its rituals and cultures and history, and then melding it with what we have inside — things like rock and jazz and electronic music, which stretch out to a universal identity.” Marc went on to explain, if that blending of different influences has a spinoff effect, it’s to make a regional musical tradition accessible to those outside of Quebec’s borders.
The past year was full of milestones for MAZ, the highlight being the ensemble’s participation at WOMEX’17 in Poland. Selected for an official showcase from amongst thousands of applicants, MAZ shared their music and projects with 2500 professionals from 90 countries. 2017 also included the premier of a new show at Montreal’s L’Astral on October 21st, and a celebration of Canada150 in Ghana (West Africa). And 2018? The new year kicked off with a busy international touring schedule for the band, including a January appearance at the 30th Internationale Kulturbörse (IKF) in Freiburg Germany and, immediately afterwards, a stop in Shanghai, China for another major showcase event. While in London, they will be giving several school shows as well as a general audience concert at The Aeolian.