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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 20, No. 4

Jazz: Off the Record

by Marc Chénard / December 1, 2014

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News from Effendi

Fifteen years and some 140 titles later, the Effendi label has issued a windfall of new albums, including a couple of  new faces to the fold..

Félix Stüssi & Ray Anderson – Arrabbiata (FND 133)

For his third Effendi release, pianist Félix Stüssi returns to his first line band, a sextet rounded off by his star guest, trombonist Ray Anderson. Once again the pianist sticks within the familiar stylings of mainstream jazz (blues-inspired lines and spiky monkian harmonies), but likes to organize it unusual ways, mostly by alternating ensemble playing of the tunes, which dovetail into improvised interludes in varying duo combinations. The special guest is particularly highlighted, while the two saxes (Alexandre Côté and Bruno Lamarche) have only two solos each in the 58 minutes running time of this live concert from 2013. Business as usual, and nicely taken care of, too.

Tevet Sela – Lying Sun (FND 134)

A newcomer from Israel, alto saxophonist Tevet Sela is an instrumentalist with a rather bright sound. By his tone, he’s not one hornman influenced by the darker sounding tenor sax, as many alto players like to say. While piercing, it is not screechy either, and likewise for his soprano, which he uses sparingly. His loose playing is informed by bop, but his pieces reveal melodic and harmonic turns from his part of the world. While not a musical revelation, he remains a solid citizen with the coterie of modern mainstream jazzers.

Michel Morissette – Nothing Toulouse (FND 136)

Judging by guitarist Michel Morissette’s 1970s rocker look and his greying mane, this newcomer to the label is a seasoned player. For one his hard edged sound brings Sonny Sharrock to mind, albeit less extreme, but its bite is a welcome contrast to the rest of the group that adheres to a decidedly cleaner acoustic sound. And what a kick ass opener he offers us in the punning-title track of the album, enhanced by a wailing André Leroux on tenor sax, though the miking of his horn doesn’t render justice to the full depth of his sound. Moods and tempos vary, but the guitarist clearly puts his stamp on the album.

Samuel Blais David Liebman – Cycling (FND 137)

What an honor it is for a musician to record with his teacher, which is the case here for Samuel Blais. This thirty something reedman performs seven musical excursions with veteran Dave Liebman, accompanied by Morgan Moore on bass and Martin Auguste on drums. Blais switches from baritone to alto and soprano, while Liebman focuses mainly on soprano, but indulges in some tenor. In close to 50 minutes, these two partners engage in some pretty heated dialogues, supported by their rhythm partners. In his notes, Blais says the disc title refers to the end of a cycle and the beginning of another; based on his previous (and current) efforts, one can only look forward to what the future holds for him. 


Trumpets on stage and on record

Andy King Group – Modern Fiction
Disques MCM 009  
In concert last October, Andy King’s quintet (with an added percussionist) offered a high octane performance. Electric and electrifying, the music leaned on occasion a little too heavily on the Miles Davis Bitches Brew period. His record, released the same night, is fortunately not as indebted to that influence, except in the last piece Time Traveller, whose melodic line is reminiscent of another Milesian opus, Sanctuary. Noteworthy here is the in-your-face instensity of the title-cut that runs a little over 18 minutes, a suite of sorts that converys more hard rock stylings than slick jazz fusion. A most invigorating outing that will fetch those ears trained to heavy sounds.

Rachel Therrien – Home Inspiration
Production d’artiste
An up and comer Rachel Therrien launched her second record on stage two days after King’s own effort. Her debut side (On Track, issued in 2011) had all the earmarkings of a 1970s Freddie Hubbard disc. Like the predecessor, this new album also features a quintet,  but with a new horman (Benjamin Deschamps on alto sax). Thankfully, this new effort of hers sees her trying to move away from such obvious influences, both in her compositions and in her more assertive playing. What’s more, three of the musicians have contributed to the book, thus broadening the band’s musical scope. We only look forward to her next musical venture, hopefully sooner than later.

Marianne Trudel – La vie commence ici
Justin Time JTR 8588-2  
Here is a disc that typifies the state of the jazz record business: five musicians who have played in different settings all come together in the studio for the first time to produce a record off the cuff. Ten months later, they play four concerts for the launch, displaying a nice partnership, and adding some more spark to the proceedings. In the past, musicians perfected their music on stage before recording it; nowadays, records are used as tools to book concerts and tours. Trudel is a pianist, but trumpeter Ingrid Jensen is quite prominently featured; so much so that saxophonist Jonathan Stewart is given a bit short shrift in this program of mostly lyrical sounding originals by the leader. If only this quintet had a chance to make their record the old-fashioned way…

Jacques Kuba Séguin – L’élévation du point de chute
Oddsound ODS 13
On October 25, one day after the launch of Trudel and company, Jacques Kuba Séguin stoked the fires for his CD launch. This recording with a mouthful of a title features his flagship group (OddLot), a sextet with two heavy hitters on sax, André Leroux and Jean-Pierre Zanella. As with Andy King, Miles’ ghost hovered over Séguin’s music, not so much in the themes (that largely steared away from jazz fusion cliches) in the development of his own solos. While the disc does not quite have the same urgency as the live performance, the overall musicianship provides some a good deal of bite to the music. Quite clearly, Séguin does not deny his role-models, but he is mature enough to keep them at arm’s length in his own playing.

Translation: Eric Légault

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