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Hemingway said good writing comes from what you leave out, a lesson pianist Daniel Thouin and his Montreal-based partners have applied to music on their new release, Organique (I’m guessing French for "organic"). They leave out the bass on the opener, the splang-splang-a-lang cymbal pattern just about everywhere else, any statement of time in one of the ballads – they even leave out the blowing on the last track. And when a space opens for them to rehash, retread, or re-bop, they leave it out. Instead of "here’s a little Herbie, now here’s a little McCoy, now here’s a little Bud," they make stuff up. They improvise. Not that the music is free of influences: "Blues Pour Blackwell" implies Monk (and Blackwell); "Warne-ing" implies Jarrett (and Marsh); the Jarrett/Motion, Jarrett/DeJohnette shadow touches all the music on Organique, but Thouin, drummer Karl Jannuska and the rest have learned and forgotten.
Even the less original moments lead somewhere. "Damas" set off my cliché detector when I first heard the intro. The tune surprised me, though, with angular melodic clusters and a passionate B section which nods at either "Giant Steps" or the bridge to "Have You Met Mrs. Jones," depending on your decade of reference. On "La Spine," Thouin has, to misquote somebody-or-other, a young man’s fascination with the symmetric diminished scale (half-step/whole-step). But watch that space for further developments. If he digs around he may find a new chromaticism using the old sym/dim as a framework.
Dan Thouin, Norman Lachapelle, Yannick Rieu, Steve Kaldestad, Karl Jannuska – their resumes sport a bunch of other French-Canadian names Gotham-centric jazz fans won’t know. But from the evidence on Organique there must be a hell of scene in Montreal populated with real improvisers who know what not to play.
Track Listing: Blues pour Blackwell I; La Spine; Cloud; Bzigu
Personnel: Daniel Thouin, piano; Yannick Rieu, tenor saxophone; Steve Kaldestad, tenor saxophone; Norman LaChapelle, Bass; Karl Jannuska, drums.