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Take Five with Alex Lefaivre

Alex Lefaivre By

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About Alex Lefaivre

Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, Alex Lefaivre is a bassist known for his unique artistic voice, virtuosic skill, passionate work ethic and easy going personality. Equally proficient on both the upright and electric bass, he enjoys a busy schedule as a freelancer in a wide variety of musical styles. Alex is also composes to picture, having recently contributed to the score of Tony Speed, a French-Canadian comedy premiering in select theatres and festivals in Quebec this summer. He is mostly know for his work in Parc X Trio, one of Canada's premier jazz groups, which he co-founded in 2007. Parc X Trio have released 7 recordings, the latest of which, Dream, is released through Challenge Records International. They have toured across Canada, Mexico, the USA and Europe and continue to maintain a rigorous performance schedule. Alex is also the founder of Multiple Chord Music (MCM), an independent jazz record label that currently holds 20 artists on its roster and has released over 30 recordings. Alex Lefaivre will release YUL, his first album under his own name, on August 3rd 2018.

Your sound and approach to music.

As a bassist, I love a deep, fat sound that also has a lot of clarity and punch.

As an improvisor, I really try to pay attention to what's going on around me, and hopefully I'll react in an organic way that makes everything else sound good. I'm quite lucky that very early on, I connected with some friends where the quality of listening was very high, and it's marked me ever since. It's very similar to when I have a conversation; I'm not really thinking so much about what I'm going to say, I just pay attention to what the other person is talking about and I respond accordingly, in that moment. Also, I want every single note that I play to have a deep emotional connection to my soul, I don't want to just wiggle my fingers around. I try to be as present as possible in the music and give it everything I can. It's almost a holistic experience for me. I feel like it's a privilege every time I get to play.

Compositionally, for my latest record, I wanted to explore something different than my previous work. Over the last decade with Parc X Trio, the material became more progressive and complex, with long, multi-sectional forms and a lot of through-composed arrangements. For YUL, I wanted something looser and also closer to the jazz tradition. I wanted it to be based on leadsheets without set arrangements, that gave the musicians a lot of room to improvise, even while playing the head. I wanted the melodies to be memorable and strong while also presenting a form and chord sequence that would be fun and interesting to blow on as well, in the vain of John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" or Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin Dance." I studied a lot of music by Thelonious Monk and Wayne Shorter's '60s Blue Note era. I wanted those kind of tunes, but with a modern rhythm section with electric bass. I was also hugely inspired by Pat Metheny's Bright Size Life, which to me is a perfect album. The writing is so personal and strong, and as groundbreaking as it was sonically, it retains an almost "classical" quality that's aged very well, compared to a lot of other electric/fusion stuff.

Teachers and/or influences?

A lot! I definitely took the scenic route when it came to studying music. My first real bass teacher was Laureat Cormier, a super heavy fusion cat with a twin brother who played the drums. He also performed on a lot of local TV gigs in Montreal at the time. He was the first guy to teach me all of the basics; the notes on the bass, scales, chords, reading and jazz. A lot of it was way above my head at the time, but he really opened up the flood gates. He had to stop teaching due to health problems, so I decided to switch to upright bass. I tried one year at the Conservatory here in Montreal, studying classical music. It was great as a foundation for technique, and it also put the bar very high, but ultimately I didn't want to commit to being an orchestral musician, I loved jazz. I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Montreal with Michel Donato, a local legend. Back in the day, he would play with heavyweights like Miles Davis and Bill Evans when they came to town. He was the first jazz teacher that showed me the importance of practicing in 12 keys and learning tunes. He also had a strong emphasis on rhythm. He'd have me do three choruses of solo bass exclusively playing half-note triplets with metronome on 2 and 4 and stuff like that.

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  • YUL by Anya Wassenberg
Take Five With...
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YUL

YUL

Multiple Chord Music (MCM)
2018

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