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.
Après bien des péripéties comme nous l’écrivions sur SJN le 27 juillet 2021, le très beau Les Naufragés du contrebassiste Alex Lefaivre a vu le jour. Sans vouloir disparaître sur une île déserte et faire office de naufragés, cette nouveauté, signe d’un bel automne musical, se distingue autant par les compositions personnelles que certains titres. Emprunté au rock, nous avons Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin), du jazz costaud avec Time of Barracudas du tandem Miles Davis/Gil Evans et même une jolie reprise du thème en jazz de Passe-Partout.
Boiler Room – acide juste comme il le faut
Mais, il n’y a pas que cela, puisque le contrebassiste injecta un peu de son savoir-faire dans cette entreprise, qui répétons-le, vaut amplement le détour. Sans être une entreprise de petite séduction le pièce Boiler Room est acide juste comme il le faut, et un écrin pour le guitariste Nicolas Ferron, suivi du saxophoniste Erik Hove, dont le jeu évoque un peu celui du regretté Michael Brecker. Sur la formule de quelques improvisations bien senties, il entraîne notre contrebassiste ainsi que le batteur Alain Bourgeois dans une petite course poursuite particulièrement dynamique.
Passe-Partout – un clin d’œil a Sonny Rollins
Pour le thème de Passe-Partout, Alex Lefaivre et ses complices font un joli clin d’œil au St-Thomas de Sonny Rollins, ou quand les Caraïbes vous invitent à la fête.
Immigrant Song – une folie qui marche
Il fallait une certaine dose de courage ou de folie pour nous proposer l’halluciné Immigrant Song, dominé à son époque par la voix incantatoire du chanteur Robert Plant. Et ça marche. Nous sommes en présence d’un tout qui ne dénature pas la pièce d’origine et les accents rocks sont bien présents. Un modèle à suivre pour ceux et celles qui voudraient nous offrir cette composition dans une boite de jazz.
Time of the Barracudas – jazz modal
Rayon jazz standard version modale : Time Of the Barracudas nous replonge presque dans un autre temps, mais juste avec ce qu’il faut de liens patiemment travaillés. Les Naufragés est un superbe travail d’équipe et de compositions il va sans dire.
Time of the Barracudas / Boiler Room / Sneaked / Passe-Partout / Reset / Sly / Sin City / Immigrant Song
Alex Lefaivre : basse et compos / Erik Hove : sax alto / Nicolas Ferron : guitare / Alain Bourgeois : batterie
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Alex Lefaivre: Naufragés
Multiple Chord Music
Based on the merits of YUL (2018) and now Naufragés (“Castaways”), electric bassist Alex Lefaivre should be better known outside his Montreal home base. As a course lecturer, label co-founder (of Multiple Chord Music), and on-call musician for numerous local artists, he’s a valued property in his home province, but Naufragés argues Lefaivre’s talents deserve to be recognized beyond its borders. Five of the eight pieces are by him, with the rest covers of tunes by Miles Davis and Gil Evans, Pierre F. Brault, and—quel surprise—Led Zeppelin.
Apparently Naufragés encountered some logistical hurdles along the way, with attempts to record derailed by the pandemic. Tracks were finally laid down in two sets on April 5th, 2021 at Montreal’s Studio Madame Wood, with the bassist joined by alto saxophonist Erik Hove, guitarist Nicolas Ferron, and drummer Alain Bourgeois. With only four musicians involved, the material has lots of room to breathe, and while personality and character differentiate one composition from another, ample space for individual expression is also present.
The Davis-Evans tune, “Time of the Barracudas” (from 1963’s Quiet Nights), receives an inspired reading. Hove elevates the performance with a bright tone and acrobatic display, after which Ferron begins his solo with a chords-heavy attack before unleashing a bluesy exploration. With Bourgeois and the leader powering the quartet with locked-in playing that’s both tight and free, “Time of the Barracudas” sets the bar high for what follows. “Passe-Partout,” whose title references musical material Brault wrote for a children’s TV show that began airing in Quebec in 1977 and still airs, receives a breezy treatment that’s equal parts highlife, jazz, and dub. If the quartet’s rendering of “Immigrant Song” (from 1970’s Led Zeppelin III) doesn’t match the original for heaviness, the performance still grooves mightily when the four refashion its familiar roar.
Concerning the Lefaivre originals, “Boiler Room” tickles the ear with a melodic design that’s as winding as a Möbius strip. Mobilized by a rock-styled groove, the piece nevertheless engages as strongly as the Davis-Evans opener thanks to the breathless clip at which it’s delivered. The infectiously swinging “Sneaked” slinks in like the title music from an espionage soundtrack before achieving liftoff with dynamic interplay. As enticing are “Reset,” which drapes a lyrical melody across a funky strut, and “Sin City,” a languorous beauty whose relaxed tempo bolsters its seductive allure.Throughout Naufragés, Hove and Ferron show themselves to be solid front-liners, with Bourgeois and Lefaivre as impactful. The material allows the four to play with subtlety and nuance but to also let it rip when required. Control and abandon sit comfortably side-by-side in these performances, the contrasts effectively balanced in the quartet’s execution. On a release that’s definitely worth checking out, Lefaivre’s bass playing is stellar, but he distinguishes himself as a composer also.
Via Google translate:
Every now and then a release pops up that excels, not because of a surprising urge to innovate but thanks to a clear and straightforward classical style. This is one of them.
Canadian bassist and composer Alex Lefaivre is active as a sideman in various groups, provided the soundtrack for various series and co-founded the Multiple Chord Music (MCM) label. He also has his own quartet. ‘Naufragés’ is the sequel to the 2018 debut ‘YUL’.
The intense dialogue annex solo passages by alto saxophonist Erik Hove and guitarist Nicolas Ferron, framed by a closely playing rhythm section (bassist Alex Lefaivre, drummer Alain Bourgeois), immediately set the tone. The sharp exchanges and the powerful outline betray an approach that clearly goes back to the past, while the approach and elaboration testify to a fresh modernity. The fact that the set list not only includes a cover by Miles Davis (‘Time Of The Barracudas’) but also by Led Zeppelin (‘Immigrant Song’, at breakneck speed) also points to the attitude of this quartet. In ‘The Boiler Room’ they seek (and find) a sophisticated balance between pop, jazz and rock. A pattern that they are constantly developing further with distinct accents and angles.
As mentioned in the intro, no holy houses are knocked down here, but neither is this a stranded quartet wandering aimlessly. What an unfortunate choice of CD title, but a fascinating soundtrack.
Via Google Translate:
The second work of the cutting-edge quartet led by the bassist Alex Lefeivre who is active in Montreal is a work that develops various rhythms such as drum & bass, punk and reggae while following the format of the jazz quartet. Five hip original songs, a cover of Miles Davis & Gil Evans, and a homage to Pierre F. Brault, a leading Quebec film music composer who passed away in 2014, and Led Zeppelin’s straight hard rock cover works as a strong spice.
Pour l’émission complète:
The Canadian jazz bassist, Alex Lefaivre, has previously marked himself as a more than capable composer, conductor and sideman. He is thus known and appreciated as a jazz musician in and around Montreal – most, perhaps, for his participation in the award-winning Parc X Trio, which has released well over a handful of critically acclaimed records. He made his record debut as a soloist with YUL in 2018, but the new quartet record Naufragés is still some of the best he has to date performed in his own name. The unmistakably modern jazz music on this has a propulsion that is captivating – much thanks to Lefaivre’s own electric bass. Lefaivre leaves no doubt that he technically and artistically has pondus. But most notable is his interplay with the three sidemen: alto saxophonist Erik Hove, guitarist Nicolas Ferron and drummer Alain Bourgeois.
The interplay between the four leaves the impression that they are in telepathic contact. And just that – combined with the momentum and the eminent solos makes the album a joyful acquaintance. Especially own tracks like Boiler Room and Sneaked kick ass. And the fact that Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song ends the album also says something about the level and nature of the music on the album. This is jazz in a hurry.
August 26, 2021
Bassist Alex Lefaivre is yet another example of the excellent jazz musicians across this country who are less well known than they should be.
Lefaivre has been an award-winning musician/composer and educator for years in the Montreal area. His new album was patiently assembled in April this year when the COVID rules relaxed enough to get the band into the studio. The title, Naufragés, means castaways, perhaps reflecting the realities of the last several years with the music business. The quartet here has Eric Hove on alto, Nicolas Ferron on guitar and Alain Bourgeois on drums, along with Lefaivre on bass. It features three covers and five original compositions with a consistent energy and funky style. It’s possible that Hove might be the best known of the group, and while his solos are excellent (especially perhaps on Sin City), they are not any more substantial than the offerings of the other members. Guitarist Ferron is also very impressive.
It’s always fun to be pleasantly surprised by a playlist. The original compositions here offer excellent scope and variety, with nudges into a funky rock groove at times. Several of the cover choices are interesting. Time of the Barracudas is a Gil Evans/Miles Davis tune that explores the modal world of the era, while Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song is a straight-up, no-apologies tribute to the original. A very bouncy and perky original tune is Hommage Jazz á Passe-Partout (a tribute to a Quebec children’s TV show called Passe-Partout.)
This is a fine quartet that offers a perfect blend with the each of its players, and as a result the album is extremely enjoyable throughout. These castaways have found a way home. ★★★★ out of five
STREAM THESE: Reset, Time of the Barracudas