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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

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," ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

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 ...

ARTIST PROFILES

Francois Houle: Making the Clarinet Sing

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Nearly two decades ago, during an interlude in Europe researching 18th and 19th century clarinets, clarinetist François Houle found himself in a Paris jazz club watching soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy. “I knew nothing about him whatsoever, he explained. “When I heard him play I was quite floored. I didn't know that this type of jazz even existed. My idea of jazz was [pianist Thelonious] Monk and [saxophonist John] Coltrane and [saxophonist] Charlie Parker. I went as far as listening to some [woodwind multi-instrumentalist] Eric Dolphy and [saxophonist] Ornette Coleman, but nothing really more recent than that, so ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Benoit Delbecq and Franois Houle: Dice Thrown

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Whenever jazz musicians make a duet record, its success or failure ultimately depends on how well they can join together. Interactive conversation and a shared sense of discovery can make for a brilliant record, while unbridled extroversion or poor attention spans can render it dismal. It's all in the fragile bridge between the parts.

In the case of Dice Thrown, the interaction between French pianist Benoit Delbecq and Canadian clarinetist François Houle--who joined forces five years ago on Nancali--is many layers deep, leading to a sense of momentum and understated density. Upon superficial examination, there are no obvious ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Francois Houle: Cryptology

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Canadian clarinetist/composer Francois Houle and is current working band explore the mechanics of Cryptology as a thematic basis for this most interesting new release. With this production, the band seemingly embarks upon an investigative course as they perhaps correlate complex mathematical algorithms to music notation, while they establish a foundation for the listener’s mind’s eye via the power of suggestion.

On pieces such as “Palinodia I” and “Asymptote”, the “Francois Houle 5” engages in quietly frenetic soundscapes, whereas, violoncellist Peggy Lee either establishes the heartbeat or partakes in conversational interplay in concert with Houle and trumpeter/pianist Brad Turner’s, reconstruction of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joelle Leandre - Hasse Poulsen - Francois Houle: c'estca

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Recorded live in Paris, 2000 – this trio embarks upon a quietly energetic affair as they rely upon their combined improvisational savvy and inherent resourcefulness for a set consisting of interweaving dialogue and polychromatic themes. On “c’estica 1”, double bassist Joelle Leandre pursues sweeping bowed bass lines, often counterbalancing clarinetist Francois Houle’s fleeting lyricism and guitarist Hasse Poulsen’s fervent plucking as the band renders a propulsive course of attack amid a potpourri of intricate developments.

The piece titled “c’estca 4” features Houle’s circular patterns and conveyance of subliminal themes along with Leandre and Poulsen’s rustling undercurrents, whereas the guitarist proceeds ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Francois Houle 5: In The Vernacular "The Music of John Carter"

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The Songlines record label is at the forefront of modern jazz vernacular. Excellent releases by Jerry Granelli, Tiny Bell Trio, Chris Speed, Han Bennink and Dave Douglas attest to the vision which is indicative of this label’s charter. Songlines continues to promote sheer goodness with the Francois Houle 5 “In the Vernacular – The Music of John Carter”.

“In The Vernacular”, is a tribute of sorts performed by the Francois Houle 5 paying homage to the late clarinetist/composer John Carter. Carter’s African-American folklore series resulted in a deep rooted classicism that was markedly innovative for its time. Carter’s concept and ...



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