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François Houle 5+1: Montreal, Canada, July 3, 2012

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François Houle 5+1Casa del PopoloMontréal, QuébecJuly 3, 2012Wild strawberries. This was the taste of clarinetist François Houle's 5+1 performance at Casa del Popolo, presenting his group's just-released Genera (Songlines, 2012). Why wild strawberries? Because the entire two sets had both the fresh and savory, yet also spicy and untamed flavor of the Québecois berries which ripen in this summer season, and the sophisticated, refined and sensitive texture of a music that recalled the emotional complexity of Dr. Isak Borg, the protagonist of Ingmar Bergman's 1957 cinematic masterpiece, Wild Strawberries.How could two such seemingly ...

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Francois Houle 5 + 1: Genera

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Celebrated Canadian progressive jazz clarinetist Francois Houle enlists an all-star support system for a comprehensive album that radiates numerous slants amid ethereal backwashes, scrappy improvisation and softly explorative passages. “Albatros" highlights the sextet's manifold capabilities. Propagated by Houle's buoyantly lilting stride, the band generates a deceptively complex primary theme based on odd-metered unison phrasings, spanning free-bop undertones and pianist Benoit Delbecq's ephemeral classical fills. “Albatros" serves as a solid vehicle for the band to stretch during the bridge, featuring cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum's brash, fluent, and rather dizzying solo, tempered by trombonist Samuel Blaser's longing lines. It's an ...

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Benoit Delbecq / Francois Houle: Because She Hoped

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The superior recording quality, tinged with reverb and a capacious aesthetic, serves as a third instrument on this studio recording by French pianist Benoit Delbecq and Canadian clarinetist Francois Houle. Both artists occupy that progressive, cutting-edge space within modern jazz contexts. With their third duo outing, the musicians use extended techniques in an intimate setting. Here, unorthodox treatments coalesce with sublime dialogues, spiking breakouts and melodic intervals, all executed with a sense of intimacy. Ethereal, and at times economical in scope, the duo exercises rhythmic tapping maneuvers and other extraneous sounds often centered on fragile underpinnings. Delbecq's “Ando," ...

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Joëlle Leandre / Francois Houle / Raymond Strid: Last Seen Headed: Live at Sons d'Hiver

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It is always amazing, but also reassuring, to realize how three creative and resourceful musicians--French bassist Joëlle Léandre, Canadian clarinetist François Houle and Swedish drummer Raymond Strid-- can produce such a masterful piece of art out of a spontaneous free-improvised meeting. Obviously, all three have shared the same stage or studio in the past, most recently on 9 Momemts (Red Toucan, 2006), and are masters in free improvisation--in solo formats or in assorted ad-hoc outfits--but still, each new collaboration sounds fresh and full of vitality.

This live recording from January 2009 captures an improvised set from the annual Sons d'Hiver ...

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Houle / Leandre / Strid: 9 Moments

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Never was a title more apt. It says it all; in music so profoundly of the moment, and in a world where time sometimes seems infinitely malleable, it's the preciousness of the moment that's often the first casualty. On 9 Moments, however, every moment seems like a cause for celebration.

Listeners can thus be eternally grateful for the fact that a performance such as “Moment Grave" was saved from the unforgiving ether. Bassist Joelle Leandre's uncredited vocal interjections have the effect of grounding proceedings that might otherwise have entered an entirely different realm; but the change wrought is not a ...

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Houle / Leandr / Strid: 9 Moments

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Three exceptional improvisers comfortable in the art of instant interaction join forces and unleash an exceptional aural treat on 9 Moments. They define nine moments which devolve over different trajectories and moods, making each sit up and draw the listener into its soul. They can be animated and soar in exultation, or dip into a soothing well-being. The spell is created by François Houle (clarinets), Joëlle Leandré (double bass) and Raymond Strid (percussion), on this recording of live and studio material. The setting is of little consequence though; the music has the same sweep and impact.

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Francois Houle / Evan Parker / Benoit Delbecq: La Lumire de Pierres

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Recorded at the Innovations concert series in Montreal in 2005, this trio teams Evan Parker with the established duo of Benoit Delbecq and François Houle, who have been together for a decade. The pair is known to play a wide variety of music--from classical to world to jazz and improvisation--all of it extremely well. Both technically and temperamentally, they are suited to Parker; the threesome sound well-adjusted to each others' instincts, and should as this was not just a one-off meeting; there are plans for the threesome to tour in 2008.

The music here consists of three tracks ranging from ...



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