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Lepage, Lussier et le Quatuor Bozzini — Chants et danses … with strings – TDB9019

Founding fathers of the musique actuelle ­movement, the clarinet and guitar duo of Robert Marcel Lepage and René Lussier, are reunited after a lengthy hiatus. True to their playful streak and commitment to sonic experimentations of all kinds, they pick up where they left off more than twenty years ago. Both have a sense of ­humour, most notably in the whimsical titles, two of which translate roughly as “Strings as the key to success” or “How to keep the sacred fire without burning one’s capital.” Not only that, but the cover illustration is a sly allusion to the 1950 Charlie Parker with Strings album, the Bozzini quartet providing their bows for a few cameo appearances. In fact, the album is a pure studio creation, assembled out of independently recorded tracks by all concerned.

Yves Charuest — (Un)fold – TDB9021

In June 2014, alto saxophonist Yves Charuest and his trio Still performed in Montreal with the Catalonian pianist Augusti Fernández. Three years later, an album from this group appears, a studio effort recorded the day after their show. Improvised from start to finish, the music spreads over five tracks and unfurls in rapid-fire gestures, as if they were creating a musical equivalent to Jackson Pollock’s ­action painting. The group is relentless in its chases but refrains from going over the top; listeners, for their part, are given but a few ­seconds to catch their breath between tracks. It seems that the quartet decided to follow a very specific game plan, hence the impression of a certain sameness to their performances.

Éric Normand — Mattempa – TDB9018

Bassist Éric Normand has drawn inspiration here from the work of the late Jacques Ferron, a well-known literary personality in Quebec. In the liner notes, the musician states that this recording is the first of a series of instrumental albums derived from the writer’s oeuvre. Mattempa is a legendary figure, a mythical giant contained in a story that underpins the music of this recording. More impressionistic in tone, this imaginary soundtrack unfolds slowly, with ethereal-sounding themes ­surfacing along the way. For want of a better term, the music could be labelled as a kind of chamber-like take on musique actuelle, ­performed here by a quintet of electric bass, cello, pocket trumpet, percussion, and the dual reeds (soprano sax, bass clarinet) of Montreal’s Philippe Lauzier. Although ­sophisticated in approach, for the non-initiated this music may also serve as the best ­introduction to the Tour de Bras label.

GGRIL — Ceci n’est pas un poème – TDB9015

Like the preceding release, this one is also text-based, in this instance writings from ­prisoners of opinion, either sung or recited in English, French, or Spanish. Subdued for the most part, the mood is disrupted by occasional outbreaks of improvisational mayhem. Eight members of the GGRIL are on board here, ­including Normand, the leader of this ­­ten-track 54-minute work. A dark work, but very much in keeping with its subject matter.

Rowetor 03-04 – TDB9020 (Double)

More radical in approach, the stylings of ­Rowetor, a 15-piece orchestra of German improvisers ­nominally headed by tuba player Carl-Ludwig Hübsch, offers a kind of static minimalism. Each disc contains a single piece, the first clocking in at over 40 minutes, the second around a half hour. The instruments blend in such a way as to meld into one another, creating a kind of indistinct mass that reaches mid-volume at loudest. This approach — one that has its following in ­Europe, particularly in the German-speaking countries — offers little in terms of relief, save for subtle and at times achingly slow variations of timbre. You ­either turn on … or switch off. It’s your call.

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About Author

Marc Chénard is a Montreal-based multilingual music journalist specialized in jazz and improvised music. In a career now spanning some 30 years, he has published a wide array of articles and essays, mainly in Canada, some in the United States and several in Europe (France, Belgium, Germany and Austria). He has travelled extensively to cover major festivals in cities as varied as Vancouver and Chicago, Paris and Berlin, Vienna and Copenhagen. He has been the jazz editor and a special features writer for La Scena Musicale since 2002; currently, he also contributes to Point of Departure, an American online journal devoted to creative musics. / / Marc Chénard est un journaliste multilingue de métier de Montréal spécialisé en jazz et en musiques improvisées. En plus de 30 ans de carrière, ses reportages, critiques et essais ont été publiés principalement au Canada, parfois aux États-Unis mais également dans plusieurs pays européens (France, Belgique, Allemagne, Autriche). De plus, il a été invité à couvrir plusieurs festivals étrangers de renom, tant en Amérique (Vancouver, Chicago) que Outre-Atlantique (Paris, Berlin, Vienne et Copenhangue). Depuis 2012, il agit comme rédacteur atitré de la section jazz de La Scena Musicale; en 2013, il entame une collabortion auprès de la publication américaine Point of Departure, celle-ci dédiée aux musiques créatives de notre temps.

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