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Yves Leveille: Soho

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"Often I feel its heartbeat calling me—I am home there even from afar.
— Yves Léveillé

Montreal pianist and composer Yves Léveillé has emerged as a passionate and intelligent creator of new music. He has made three acclaimed recordings for the Effendi label and his fourth further expands his notions of space and intimacy as it defines a sort of hymn to artistic New York City.

His talented ensemble consists of trumpet, two saxophonists, piano, bass and drums. Each of the players deftly contributes to the sense of group creation but also makes potent individual statements. The music is emotionally expressive but it makes its case in subtle shades and dynamics. The opener, "Érosion," simply and beautifully welcomes us to the composer's rich palette but does so in a way that doesn't bash us over the head but, rather, gently displays its quiet sensibility. The horns state an insistent theme over a softly pulsing rhythm section followed by trumpeter Aron Doyle instinctively finding the yearning in the chords for a pointed and delicate solo. He's followed by Léveillé himself, who says much in relatively few notes.

Each of the succeeding tunes paints expressive sound pictures of feelings about place. It's intricate modern jazz writing that is somehow simple and communicative. "Une Nuit sur Soho is a gorgeous minimalistic ballad that gently takes us on an emotional tour of nighttime New York. It's the aesthetic calm and assurance in the center of what is often a madly active city. The pianist suggests Bill Evans as he often does in his solo playing, while bassist Marc Lalonde echoes the calm while speaking forcefully and directly. On "New York 10012 there's more of what we think we understand about the drive and activity in New York, but here Léveillé and his cohorts sing a simply complex hymn to that urban chaos that's inviting and never loses control.

There is an elegance and grace in the writing that combines an orchestral sensibility with the intimacy of a small group. The ensemble writing for the horns is wistfully unobtrusive yet calls to mind a woodwind ensemble. Léveillé has found the perfect format for writing that sits in a tradition yet somehow sounds like something charmingly different.


Personnel: Yves L

Title: Soho | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Effendi Records


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