Remy Le Boeuf: Light as a Word

Jordan Penney By

Sign in to view read count
Remy Le Boeuf: Light as a Word
Light as a Word is the debut full-length album from saxophonist and composer Remy Le Boeuf as a leader, and it moves fluidly in liminal spaces. Its format and its performers—a sextet that includes piano, guitar, double bass, drums and tenor and alto sax—are firmly in a jazz idiom. But the songs themselves are more through-composed than is typical for a group such as this, and Le Boeuf's approach as a bandleader seems to involve carefully creating space for each performer's respective improvisations to gently wash over gradually unfolding compositions. There are touches of classical music in the compositions and performances.

The prevailing mode is not exactly the orchestral jazz of Maria Schneider or Christine Jensen, for example, nor the adventurous swing of Charles Mingus, or some variety of loosely structured rock-influenced jazz music. It is something in between all of these tendencies. At times Light as a Word evokes the moody drama of the post-rock style where long songs ascend and shimmer at unhurried paces, punctuated by artful accents like tempo shifts and harmonic surprises at key points. Light as a Word is strongest in such moments, as its various tendencies come together most fluently and its emotional turns are most clearly articulated.

The aptly-titled "The Melancholy Architecture of Storms" exhibits the best of all the album's elements. The performances flow in and out of synchronicity, solos rise up and dissolve back into the song's collective momentum, gently and in waves. It evokes both post-rock like Explosions In the Sky or Early Day Miners as much as it does Mingus or Wayne Shorter. "Mirrors In Your Eyes" and "Qoo" (no context is given for this title but the word does mean "swan" in Farsi, an appropriate enough image) play out in a similar manner. These songs are in turns gentle and dramatic, lyrical, and emotionally stirring. The musicians produce moments of beauty.

Light as a Word burns brightly but intermittently. The record never feels uninspired—the individual performers are too good, and Le Boeuf's apparent creative goal of digging out and experiencing emotional resonances with his audience is too compelling. The worst one is left with is the merely pleasant—"Union," for example, written to mark his sister's wedding, or "Vista Hermosa," a tribute to Brian Blade and Jon Cowherd. As with with much of Light as a Word, these songs glow with lovely melodies and tasteful restraint, but they do not catch fire.

Track Listing

Bloom; Full Circle; The Melancholy Architecture of Storms; Imperfect Paradise; Union Intro; Union; Mirrors In Your Eyes; Vista Hermosa Intro; Vista Hermosa (For Jon and Brian); Qoo; Traptop; Light as Word


Remy Le Boeuf: saxophone, alto; Walter Smith III: saxophone, tenor; Aaron Parks: piano; Matt Brewer: bass; Peter Kronreif: drums; Charles Altura: guitar.

Album information

Title: Light as a Word | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Outside in Music

Post a comment about this album



Shop Amazon


Long Tall Sunshine
Barry Altschul's 3Dom Factor
Wonderful World
Chris Standring
Tomas Liska & Invisible World
Zero Grasses: Ritual for The Losses
Jen Shyu and Jade Tongue
J. Peter Schwalm & Markus Reuter
Liudas Mockūnas / Arvydas Kazlauskas


All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.