Yves Leveille, Marco Pereira and Christine Jensen: Soho, Essence and Look Left
Montreal pianist and composer Yves Léveillé has emerged as a passionate and intelligent creator of new music. His fourth album for Effendi, Soho, expands his notions of space and intimacy as it defines a sort of hymn to artistic New York City. His talented ensemble consists of trumpet, two saxophonists, piano, bass and drums. Each of the players deftly contributes to the sense of group creation but also makes potent individual statements. The opener, "Érosion , simply and beautifully welcomes us to the composer's rich palette but does so in a way that doesn't bash us over the head, instead gently displaying its quiet sensibility. Each succeeding tune paints expressive sound pictures of feelings about place. It's intricate modern jazz writing that is somehow simple and communicative. "Une Nuit sur Soho is a gorgeous 'minimalistic' ballad that gently takes us on an emotional tour of nighttime New York. It's the aesthetic calm and assurance in the center of what is often a madly active city. On "New York 10012 , there's more of what we think we understand about the drive and activity in New York. But here, Léveillé and his cohorts sing a simply complex hymn to that urban chaos and it's inviting, never losing control.
A musical setting that has never gone out of style is the beautifully rich, bittersweet yet danceable sensibility of the Latin American guitar. On Essence, Marco Pereira has inherited the colors and textures from such players as Baden Powell, Luiz Bonfá and even Bola Sete. The string technique is as clean and smart as the best in classical playing, but the pulse and feel is like the warmth of coffee. It's a gorgeous new recording that blends exquisite playing and tunes with an intimate recorded sound. And Pereira is indeed fortunate to have as a guest the celebrated reedman Paul McCandless, noted for his work with Oregon. McCandless serves up sterling invention to each of the four tunes he's on, playing a different woodwind on each. The power of the simple guitar sound is revealed immediately on the opener, "Cristal by Cesar Camargo Mariano. It's a typical Brazilian dance, sweet and sad, and Pereira's lines are clean and expressive. The dance continues on "Mulher Rendeira and McCandless on oboe adds another lovely color and some intelligent improvisation over the surging rhythm. It's accessibly infectious, airy and light and always to the point. Pereira celebrates his famous guitar predecessors as he plays João Gilberto's captivating "Um abraço no Bonfa and then offers a dazzling suite made up of three Baden Powell tunes, a challenge that the guitarist beautifully meets while paying tribute to the staying power of a great guitarist and composer. This is Brazilian music with substance and soul and a verve that never fails to magnetize listeners.
The jazz groove and smart jazz composition are alive and well in the hands of saxophonist/composer Christine Jensen on Look Left. It's the music of a woman - and an assembled groupwho enjoy playing and who think about the sounds they make. Most of the music was composed as the sort of product of a period in Paris, which Jensen was granted thanks to an award from the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec. It's a paean to Paris but also to her home and the musicians that have inspired her. Look Left finds emerging colors in a more or less traditional setting. A gently propulsive ballad feel defines "Cedar , Jensen's musical remembrance of the place in Vancouver where she spent her earliest days. Her tone on alto is both pointed and lyrical and so is the incisive piano solo that follows. And her love of her instrument can be heard in the playful "Capers Papers - inspired by Montrealer François Théberge, who is also a saxophonist - and the haunting "A Tree Thing , dedicated to Lee Konitz and Jimmy Giuffre. The album closes with the darkly brooding title tune - a subtle yet forceful political statement. Everything about this album speaks of that combination and reflects Plato's notionas stated in the notes - that music is a moral law that gives soul to the universe.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Érosion; Manifeste; Une nuit sur Soho; New York 10012; Sous le charme; Le Ventriloque; Parade; Forage; Gravitation Lunaire.
Personnel: Yves Léveillé: piano; Frank Lozano: tenor and soprano sax, bass clarinet; Aron Doyle: trumpet, flugelhorn; Roberto Murray: soprano, alto and baritone saxophones; Marc Lalonde: bass; Ugo Di Vito: drums.
Essence (with Paul McCandless)
Tracks: Cristal; Mulher Rendeira; Um abraco no Bonfa; Luz Negra; Suite Baden Powell (O Astronauta, Vou deitar e rolar, Cai dentro); Plainte; Xodo da Baiana; Eu te amo; Carioca; Be My Love.
Personnel: Marco Pereira: guitar; Paul McCandless: oboe, bass clarinet, english horn, soprano sax; Natallino Neto: bass; Marcio Bahia: drums.
Tracks: Upper Fargo; Cedar; Capers Papers; Keeping Up Appearances; Promenade; A Tree Things; Mark Adam Drum; For Tom Harrell; Look Left.
Personnel: Christine Jensen: alto and soprano saxophones; Dave Restivo: piano; Ken Bibace: guitar; Fraser Hollins: bass; Greg Ritchie: drums.