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.
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.