The No Name Jazz Sextet is a group of young musicians based in Montreal, led by saxophonist Alexandre Côté and drummer Ugo Di Vito. This is their first album; obviously influenced by the hard bop movement of the ‘60s, the music nonetheless sounds fresh and new. The six players wend their way energetically through nine of their original compositions in 74 minutes. This disc has been repeating non-stop in my car for the past couple weeks; it has had far more attention than I customarily give discs I’m reviewing, and that familiarity has markedly increased my enjoyment and appreciation. It wears exceptionally well.
The three lead instruments blend nicely; all three lead players are capable and confident improvisers. The Hammond B3 provides a refreshing comping and solo sound without being maudlinly retro. The CD opens with Côté’s brisk tribute to Art Blakey; harmonies are tight and Di Vito’s driving force apparent. Doyle’s trumpet, Murray’s tenor sax, and then Réhel’s organ make it clear from the outset that these guys mean business. Grenier’s bass signals the crisp 6/8 tempo of Doyle’s minor key “Winter Dance,” with Murray’s tenor and Doyle’s flugelhorn front and center. Côté’s “Corny F Blues” fairly bubbles with humor and good fun; these guys can swing infectiously, and you’re apt to shake your head in amazement at some of the rhythms they manage.
Next the tempo comes down for Côté’s pensive ballad “Abby’s Mood.” This tune, which features Doyle’s flugelhorn and Côté’s alto, is, to my ear, the loveliest piece on the album. His “Gondola Trip,” both rhythmically and harmonically complex, kicks off in a 5/4 rhythm that is compelling and nearly hypnotic. Grenier’s “Sans Titre” is an up-tempo romp, while Côté’s “La Suite” begins with an endearingly harmonized melody that recurs in different forms periodically throughout the suite’s nearly 17-minute duration. Côté’s baritone, Doyle’s trumpet, Murray’s soprano, Réhel’s organ, and Grenier’s bass solos are highlights of the work.
Following a rubato introduction and dissonant section, Doyle’s “Off Prince” swings into a minor exposition. Organ, tenor and trumpet solos are featured, and the band has more than eleven minutes to stretch out. Closing the collection in a satisfying manner is a brilliantly hued scamper through and around the whole-note scale that Grenier has titled “Les Couloirs.”
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