Le Boeuf Brothers: House Without A Door (2009)
The New York-based brothers play well-crafted original tunes: all 12 of the pieces are written by either Remy or Pascal although, interestingly, none of them are co-compositions. Their style is mainly modern, straight-ahead jazz. While both brothers proclaim influences as disparate as Radiohead and Claude Debussy, these are not so upfront as to detract from the brothers' own styles. Although on some tracks, such as Remy's "Tabula Rasa," classical influences are obvious, most of the album owes more to the Le Boeufs' jazz predecessors than it does to those from other musical genres.
The brothers' writing and playing is technically skilled, but unlike many other young jazz musicians they also invest both with some genuine emotion and originality. As a result, the entire album has a maturity that is rare in players who are barely into their early twenties. This maturity is assisted by the quality of the album's other instrumentalists, although most of them are also still in their twenties. The compositions give all of the players the opportunity to stretch out and all of them take that opportunity and use it to good effect. Ambrose Akinmusire's trumpet playing is exemplary throughout, especially on "Save Me from Myself," where his raw, at times almost ragged, sound adds an edge to the brothers' more polite tones. Marcus Strickland's soprano saxophone on "Coffee Suite III: Exhaustion" also stands out both in his solo and his duets with Remy's alto.
Remy's "Chocolate Frenzy" displays fine ensemble playing. The five musiciansaltoist Remy, pianist/Fender Rhodes pianist Pascal, Akinmusire, bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Clarence Penncreate a sound that, at times, has the power and strength of a much larger group, while Brewer and Penn also provide sympathetic backing to Pascal's solo playing to produce one of the most immediately enjoyable tunes on the album.
House Without A Door is one of the most engaging and original albums to emerge in 2009. It shows the promise of the Le Boeufs and their band mates as players and, in the Le Boeufs' case, as composers. If the brothers can maintain the progress that they have already displayed in their short careers they could well become major figures in the future of jazz.
Track Listing: Code Word; Wetaskiwin; Morning Song; House Without a Door; Siddhartha in California; Tabula Rasa; Save Me from Myself; Coffee Suite I: No Drink, No Think; Chocolate Frenzy; Valentine; Coffee Suite III: Exhaustion; Introspective Moment.
Personnel: Remy Le Boeuf: alto sax, flutes, bass clarinet; Pascal Le Boeuf: piano, Fender Rhodes; Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet; Marcus Strickland: soprano and tenor saxes; Janelle Reichman: tenor sax; Matt Brewer: bass (3, 4, 6-9, 11,12); Billy Norris: bass (1, 2, 5, 10); Clarence Penn: drums (3, 4, 6-9, 11, 12); Greg Ritchie: drums (1, 2, 5, 10).
Record Label: Le Boeuf Brothers Music