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«Sport national»

Sport national is Canadian, Montréal-based double bass player-composer Hugo Blouin’s cycle of playful songs dedicated to Canada’s national sport, ice hockey, referring to its historical and cultural importance, and, obviously, its sportive aspects. The eleven songs are sung in French Quebecesque and in English – fitting the symbolic importance of hockey as uniting all human tribes of Canada, and explores hockey as both a witness and a stakeholder in the evolution of society, for better and for worse. This cycle of songs was recorded in Montréal between 2019-2022.

Blouin leads a sextet, featuring vocalist Julie Hamelin, drummer Jean-Philippe Godbout, keyboardist Jonathan Turgeon, woodwinds player Alex Dodier and tubist Julie Houle, and hosts a few other musicians, among them master reeds master Jean Derome. And as in previous albums of Blouin that focused on the like-minded playful cycle of songs, he took the chance to have fun with the musicality and the vocabulary of the hockey game, without forgetting homophobia and sexism or its inherent violence, with the help of local humorist and radio host Olivier Niquet.

There are a few historical references to hockey as a key witness and participant in social change, including the Cold War dramatic ’72 Canada-Russia Summit Series (or the Series of the Century which the Canadians won in the final game out of eight, then Canadian prime minister Pierre-Elliott Trudeau claimed that God is Canadian), and other cultural references to the neighboring Americans as ones who even they can understand this simple game. And of course, the endless clichés related to the popular game, including the game as a perfect place to find your ideal partner and its commercialization. Sport national offer an engaging listening experience, even to one who has never played hockey and is not familiar with the many cultural nuances of this sport.

Eyal Hareuveni

Hugo Blouin (double bass, voice), Alex Dodier (flute, saxophone), Jean-Philippe Godbout (drums), Julie Hamelin (vocals), Julie Houle (tuba), Jonathan Turgeon (keyboards), Jean Derome (flute, saxophone), Céline Bélair (choir), David Cronkite (choir), Caroline Dardenne (commentator), Jérôme Dupuis-Cloutier (trumpet), Blaise Margail (trombone)