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Gilles Laheurte is one of the more unusual members of the New York City jazz scene. Almost 60, he spent most of his life working as an architect and planner, but was always devoted to music, his own as well as others. He calls himself an amateur jazz musician, but there's nothing amateurish about his release Dreams, which is full of beautifully evocative music.
The recording is a tribute to the late Steve Lacy, who was a friend of Laheurte's. Ten of the twelve cuts feature Laheurte on soprano sax, an instrument he plays with deep passion. The highlights are two long suites where Laheurte improvises over drums. The first, "The Sparrow's Reverie," features Laheurte with Mark Sanders. The suite showcases the many sides of Laheurte's playing, sometimes spare and elegant, sometimes Middle Eastern in flavor and sometimes cooking. Sanders provides a creative, always shifting background, which is perfect for Laheurte's flights of sound. "Koyasan Forest Walk" teams Laheurte with Masahiko Togashi, with Laheurte's sax running the gamut from fat and bluesy to sweet and flute-like.
The two cuts where Laheurte solos on percussion and cymbals come as a surprise. It's a different side of his talent and explains why he solos so well over drumshe understands both sides of the equation. His percussion work is inventive and multifaceted, particularly on "Kyoto on My Mind," a spacious song that evokes the majesty of the ancient Japanese city. It would be great to hear a Laheurte recording composed purely of percussion solos.
Experiencing Laheurte is a pleasure: his sound evokes masters Lacy and Coltrane, but he imbues the instrument with his own distinctive intelligence and heart. Dreams is a warm tribute, and it's also a coming out celebration of a hidden talent who surely has much more to share.
Track Listing: The Sparrow's Reverie (Part 1: Contemplation; Part 2: Melancholy; Part 3: Mourning; Part 4:
Pursuit); Rimane Poco; Kyoto on My Mind; Retreat; Koyasan Forest Walk (Let's Sing Let's
Dance; Whispering Stars; Something Leaving; Pray); Himeji at Last.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.