Cross-Canada Jazz Checkup III (Jim Doxas Quartet, Louis-Vincent Hamel, Rafael Zaldivar, Jacques Kuba Séguin albums reviewed)

Homebound (Arté Boreal / Believe)
Jim Doxas Quartet

On Monday nights at Montreal’s Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill, you’ll discover drummer Jim Doxas and bassist Adrian Vedady presiding over the jam session. Frequently saxophonist Al McLean, trumpeter Lex French or the each of them might be guesting or sitting in.

Naturally, these musicians have honed their connections over the course of numerous rapidly referred to as tunes. Perhaps the one query is what they’d do when the tape started rolling (as they used to say) within the recording studio.

The reply might be heard on Homebound, the second album that Doxas has put out beneath his identify. Although staples of jam periods is perhaps the canon of jazz compositions and requirements, Doxas, Vedady, McLean and French sort out extra novel and outward-bound materials on Homebound, which was launched in June.

It may very well be mentioned that nothing shackles a jazz band like a chordal instrument and its routine of harmonies. Or so it goes, ever since Ornette Coleman disbursed with a pianist. Doxas’s quartet actually makes use of the additional area afforded to them. Their music is resolutely open, exploring not simply the delights of counterpoint and intervals but additionally the broad timbral prospects of each instrument.

The album’s opener, Caledon East, eases listener’s into the quartet’s world. It’s sluggish to the purpose of lumbering, and every musician’s imprint on the proceedings is clearly meant and felt because the tune evolves. The tune is lengthy, spare and swingingly zen.

The album’s title observe is punchier, extra like a giant and sustained ball of power, with Doxas’ reed-playing brother Chet guesting on clarinet.


The subsequent observe, Home, is of course sufficient the decision to the strain of Homebound. This relaxed, loping ballad contains a fluid, potent solos from McLean and French.

For Bill is a folk-y waltz made extra extra tender by French’s muted trumpet and a brief however charmingly wending Chet Doxas solo.

Ringing Endorsement is a minimalist invitation to wide-open enjoying that options French going to his poignant place earlier than McLean’s extra enigmatic flip. Interruption is transient and summary with the musicians seemingly enjoying previous one another.

After its sluggish intro, Rosemarkie slides into a fab, pliable vibe that prompts splashy, distinctive solos by French and McLean.

Hymn for 51 is a minor-key theme paying homage to choral music that contains a Vedady solo with plenty of gravitas, and particularly blue trumpet solo by French and a solo by McLean that hints at one among his principal males, John Coltrane.

The album’s 4 remaining tracks are explicitly labelled as collective improvisations. They have a gradual, plucked-out-of-the-air really feel to them, though actually, to lesser levels, the identical applies to the disc’s different tracks.

If you’ve solely identified Jim Doxas from his accompaniment for musicians as steadfastly swinging as veteran Oliver Jones and up-and-comer Ariel Pocock, or for his churning assist of Dave Douglas, Steve Swallow and his brother Chet within the band Riverside, then Homebound will afford you one other perspective on one among Canada’s most gifted drummers, who in any context sculpts with sound and all the time makes the music really feel as if it’s dancing.

Self-Inquiry (self-released)
Louis-Vincent Hamel

I had the nice luck of being in Quebec City’s bas-ville this summer season when the sextet of the younger Montreal-based drummer Louis-Vincent Hamel was enjoying Bar Ste-Angèle.

It turned out that Hamel was launching his new album, Self-Inquiry, together with his band that features tenor saxophonist Alex Francoeur, trumpeter Simon Millerd, pianist Rafael Zaldivar, bassist Mike De Masi and, final however not least, Gabriel Hamel, who occurs to be Louis-Vincent’s father. For the rest of the set that we had been in a position to catch, we had been transfixed.

The first tune that we heard, which coincidentally is the primary observe of Hamel’s album, was Vanquish, which YouTube is simply too completely happy to cough up:

It’s a darkish, brooding theme that makes me suppose that Hamel digs Ambrose Akinmusire’s music. Over its 11 minutes, the observe programs with varied excitements. Millerd’s trumpet solo is ethereal and intriguing, making a gift of to Zaldivar’s initially slippery after which poised and highly effective flip, which has a marvellous structure to it. Francoeur’s ear-catching solo ratchets up the urgency. Drummer Hamel deftly negotiates earlier than the theme returns.

There in all probability gained’t be a greater first impression by a younger new band this 12 months in Canadian jazz. Better nonetheless, the remainder of Self-Inquiry extends and diversifies the preliminary thrust of that profitable opening observe, offering observe after observe of heady but passionate music.

After its floating preliminary moments, Encore settles into a fairly, poignant waltz that options De Masi’s assured soloing. Glory is a affected person mini-suite that evolves out of a free, collective improvisation. A splashy, knotty sections that rides an extended bass ostinato emerges, over which Zaldivar uncorks one other poised piano solo. After that part crests, Francoeur and Millerd get to collaborate and construct up some music, from a smouldering begin to a splashy, and even sonically tripped-out, end.

Overwhelming Truths begins ominously and grows extra anthemic. Francoeur and Zaldivar ship full of solos with up to date lyricism and urgency. The enigmatic observe Indra’s List packs so much into its quick period, with a twisting solo by Francoeur rising from its weeds.

Elegant Universe is a surging piece made up of charming strains and cascading solos.

What Is It That You Are Seeking? is as severe because it will get, with a pattern of its titular query giving rise to a balladic temper. After a young, ethereal solo from Millerd the piece finds a brand new temper and builds right into a riveting climax. That’s what Hamel and firm had been looking for.

If Hamel was looking in himself to create among the best debut jazz albums of the 12 months, crafting compelling up to date music for a real band, he’s undoubtedly succeeded.

Consecration (Effendi)
Rafael Zaldivar

The Cuban-born, Montreal-based pianist Rafael Zaldivar has wowed me each time I’ve heard him, on the albums of drummer Louis-Vincent Hamel, saxophonist Rémi Bolduc and bassist Remi-Jean LeBlanc, and in individual, when LeBlanc’s dynamic quartet performed the TD Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival earlier this 12 months.

In these conditions, Zaldivar is a quintessentially dynamic fashionable jazz pianist, subtle, hard-hitting and even unpredictable. Naturally, I used to be curious to listen to what music Zaldivar would make beneath his personal identify.

My probability got here with Consecration, Zaldivar’s third album on the Effendi label. On this courageous, eclectic album, Zaldivar cuts a large musical swath, providing a prismatic album that by turns showcases dazzling acoustic piano work, rambunctious electrical grooving, earthy percussion, Spanish and folkloric recitations and extra.

A Rock Con Leche opens the album in a hard-charging vogue, layering devices till Zaldivar’s searing synth solo rises to the highest. Emerging from a hubbub of voices and powered by Michael Medrano’s powerhouse drumming, the piece Afro-Cuban Warriors evokes an identical vibe. Ditto the sluggish and funkily dusky Obatala.

Here’s a dwell, prolonged rendition of A Rock Con Leche, from this 12 months’s Montreal International Jazz Festival.

And right here’s a run from 2017 by means of Obatala:

Other tracks are usually extra stripped down. Some, like Arará, Congo, Te Recordaré and Aché (Through the Consecration) combine incantatory chanting and masculine vocalizing, Afro-Cuban percussion and incisive piano. Manifested Creation, Rezos and Eternel Creation are piano solo items with totally different characters. The first is brief and multi-tracked. the second is harmonically targeted, and the third is a fantasia that fades out. These spotless home windows on Zaldivar’s enjoying make me suppose that he’s a giant fan, however not a clone, of Herbie Hancock.

On When I Think Of You and Simply Talking, the pure-voiced singing of Mireille Boilly is arresting. On the previous, a ballad duet with Zaldivar, she sings wordlessly however poignantly. The extra expansive Simply Talking options the return of Zaldivar’s searing synth.

Unforgettable is, after all, a courtly bolero tackle the Irving Gordon customary that Nat Cole made well-known.

Clearly, Zaldivar’s musical self accommodates uncompromising multitudes.

MiGRATION (Oddsound)
Jacques Kuba Séguin

Montreal trumpeter Jacques Kuba Séguin makes placing a nice and rewarding jazz sextet album look simple. For MiGRATIONS, he invited some distinctive gamers, crafted a program of accessible however meaty materials and let these gamers have at it.

Joining Séguin on the disc are tenor saxophonist Yannick Rieu, pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, vibraphonist Olivier Salazar, bassist Adrian Vedady and drummer Kevin Warren. Everyone is deployed to finest benefit on MiGRATIONS, and Salazar’s vibraphone provides shimmer and lightness to the proceedings.

Séguin chooses to ease into his album with the gorgeous mid-tempo tune Hymne. After its two-horn intro, it’s a brushes-driven swinger that exhibits off Seguin’s soulful, boppy enjoying, Pilc’s delightfully left-of-centre strategy and Rieu’s muscular manner.

Origines, which follows, is an upbeat tune that units the stage for exploratory solos from Pilc and Warren, plus some last-minute probing by Séguin. Here’s a dwell model, from this 12 months’s inaugural Jazz en juin competition in Quebec City, which follows an identical roadmap.

L’ecrivain is a minor blues with a bridge that provides Séguin an opportunity to shout-out to Lee Morgan.

Rieu sits out Premiere neige, a spare, sombre ballad whose lengthy tones concentrate on the fullness of Seguin’s sound. Séguin’s polished, sunny association of Choucoune, Haitian composer Michel Mauléart Monton’s basic, updates its meringue groove.

I Remember Marie in April, a quick, quirky contrafact on I Remember April, contains a Miles-ish flip from Séguin and an imaginative and inimitable solo by Pilc. Mosaiques takes the album out with some broad prospers.

Splashy, enjoyable and unrestrained, MiGRATIONS is yet one more album from a lesser-known Montreal jazz musician who’s doing his metropolis’s scene proud and deserves extra recognition past its borders.

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