MICHEL DONATO is one of Montreal's finest jazz musicians, and one who's been active in Montreal's vibrant jazz scene since the early 1960's. Over the course of that decade, this fine bassist evolved in the company of some of music's most respected and illustrious personalities, including Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Sonny Greenwich, Charles Aznavour, Jacques Brel and Carmen McRae. The sixties also marked Donato's venture into studio work; he collaborated on several radio programs for Société Radio-Canada and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, appearing often on the CBC's radio show "Jazz en Liberté". Between Montreal and Toronto, Donato collaborated, toured and recorded with the Oscar Peterson Trio, the Bill Evans Trio, Clark Terry, Benny Carter, Zoot Sims, Art Farmer, Gerry Mulligan, Oliver Jones, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Toot Thielemans, among others. Throughout his career, Donato has incessantly searched for new and interesting projects to keep his creative drive satisfied. He taught at both McGill University and l'Université de Montréal, began an eight-year partnership with vocalist Karen Young, while still teaming up and recording with several Canadian and international jazz artists, becoming in the process one of Canada's most versatile and prolific jazz musicians.
In recent years, Michel Donato has composed a number of film scores (among them the award-winning music for the critically-acclaimed film, 'Les Muse Orphelines') and collaborated in double bass experiments with the eminent french bassist Henri Texier and the inimitable American bassist Charlie Haden. In 1995, the Festival International de jazz de Montréal presented Donato with the prestigious Oscar Peterson Award for excellence in Canadian Jazz.
In 2003 Justin Time released 'Jazz En Liberté' in its acclaimed Just A Memory series. The compositions found on this recording were originally part of the weekly radio show 'Jazz en liberté,' originally broadcast by CBC. Happily, several broadcasts that featured Michel Donato survived. This wonderful album is an aural document comprised of material from three of the aforementioned show's broadcast performances. The latest Donato's studio effort Nöel En Harmonie (released October 2004) is a magnificent jazz recording celebrating Christmas. The trio of Donato, pianist Pierre Leduc and drummer Richard Provençal offer superlative arrangements, with the result being an album of well-known material delivered refreshingly. This charming seasonal recording can therefore be easily listened to at any time of year.
This trio, Québec's elder statesmen of jazz, if you will, are every inch the musical calibre of their American "cousins" Bill Evans, Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian. This is both a rewarding listen, and a great place to start if you want to learn more about jazz from Québec.