Alex Lefaivre Quartet
Alex Lefaivre’s latest quartet outing is a delightfully sequenced blend of energy and lightness that makes for a compulsively listenable project. As a listener, I’ve found that my most memorable experiences often occur when I can tangibly sense how much musicians relish interacting with each other, and this recording is a prime example of such synergy. Lefaivre’s basslines and guitarist Nicolas Ferron’s rhythmically inclined blowing on standout original Reset serve as a wondrous showcase for two musicians who are fully engaged with each other, listening intently. Meanwhile, Alain Bourgeois’ drumming is sensitive and understated, playing nothing but the bare functional necessities for most of the album’s duration, releasing only the occasional outburst for the most exciting moments. The band is locked in and Lefaivre is the primary driving force behind their sound. In the compositional sense, his lines propel the forward motion of the rhythm section while anchoring the melodic content, particularly on the rather animated track Sly.
Lefaivre’s time feel is rock-solid and assured, helping to firmly ground the ensemble during the eccentric time signatures of tracks like Sneaked. He also fashions the bass into a highly effective comping instrument, providing a springboard for Erik Hove’s alto showcase on Sin City. All in all, Lefaivre has assembled both a group of artists and a set of tunes (playfully including a Led Zeppelin cover) that have allowed him to refine his band, leading chops in a very enjoyable way.
Alex Lefaivre Quartet: Naufrages
Bassist Alex Lefaivre leads a team of Nicolas Ferron/g, Erik Hove/as and Alain Bourgeois/dr through a mix of originals and interpretations. His own material has the Paul Desmond-inspired Hove rocking out over the exciting “Boiler Room” and bluesing with Ferron on “Sin City”. The team gets serpentine on the Middle Eastern moods of “Sly” with some creative pedal work by the strings. Most hip is the pulse created by Lefaivre and Bourgeois on a nifty take of Miles Davis’ “Time of the Barracudas” and a hoot of a version of the Led Zeppelin “Immigrant Song”. Lots of ideas that bounce around well.
“Montreal composer and bandleader Alex Lefaivre colours his jazz canvas from an impressively broad palette. Eclectic and cinematic, his five originals and three covers radiate (mostly) subtle echoes of film noir, heavy metal, punk, disco and reggae, lending the music a relatively raw and yet, paradoxically, sophisticated aesthetic. Lefaivre, who plays acoustic and electric bass, and drummer Alain Bourgeois generate a fiery engine room platform, over which alto saxophonist Erik Hove and guitarist Nicolas Ferron, who share a similarly good rapport, send sparks flying. The closing rendition of Led Zep’s Immigrant Song’ is alone worth the price of admission.”-Tony Hillier
October 18, 2021
Arté Boréal, 2021
The bassist, composer and educator Alex Lefaivre, who is a founding member of the Parc X Trio, takes up company with Erik Hove, Nicolas Ferron and Alain Bourgeois here, as they offer us 5 originals and 3 covers of very diverse song craft.
“Time Of The Barracudas” starts the listen with Hove’s brass acrobatics aligning fluidly with Lefaivre’s complicated bass work in the playful jazz opener, and “Boiler Room” follows with Bourgeois’ fluid drumming anchoring the more rock focused climate that’s not short on melody.
At the midpoint, “Hommage Jazz á ‘Passe Partout’” showcases Ferron’s incredible guitar work amid the rugged but very tuneful landscape, while “Reset” emits a hypnotic display where the soulful sax and charming bass playing are met with agile drumming.
Arriving near the end, “Sin City” offers a very calm, reflective late album highlight, and “Immigrant Song” exits the listen with plenty of rock’n’roll spirit as they turn in a very fun interpretation of the Led Zeppelin classic.
The quartet cultivate a very distinct jazz style here, where cinematic moments and textured bouts of grace and grit meet at a highly interesting intersection. The quartet’s last album, 2018’s Yul, garnered much acclaim, and this one could and should produce a similar result.
The Alex Lefaivre Quartet—Eric Hove, alto sax; Nicolas Ferron, guitar; Alex Lefaivre, bass; Alain Bourgeois, drums—is a Montreal-based eclectic quartet whose Naufrages (Arte Boreal Records) careens through a wide assortment of genres in creating a jazz mini-classic. Did I really just hear instrumental punk, disco, hard rock, reggae and soundtrack music? Nah, must’ve been a dream. Still, these five originals and three covers strike a balance between the adventurous and the sublime. Starting with Miles Davis(“Time Of The Barracuda”), ending with Led Zeppelin (“Immigrant Song”), their purview is limitless, their energy is catchy and their chemistry is exact. Naufrages means castaways and, indeed, they are cast away on the big ocean of pop culture, making sense of the disparities.