YUL en écoute sur ICI MUSIQUE + critique de Frédéric Cardin

Alex Lefaivre et YUL : magnifique vol plané au-dessus de la ville

Le bassiste Alex Lefaivre a toujours plein de projets en tête. Le dernier en date est ce quatuor dont le premier album, YUL, fait une très belle entrée dans le catalogue (volumineux) de la musique inspirée de Montréal.

Lefaivre et ses amis Erik Hove à l’alto, Nicolas Ferron à la guitare électrique et Mark Nelson à la batterie proposent des promenades atmosphériques et groovy à travers la grande ville, des errances teintées ici de brouillard matinal, là de reflets scintillants d’éclairage nocturne. Parfois, on finit par la survoler doucement, sans trop de précipitation, mais avec assez d’énergie pour ne pas se sentir plongé dans un rêve éveillé et doucereux.

Sur YUL, la ville est belle, plutôt lyrique et mélodique, sertie d’harmonies contemporaines, mais pas rébarbatives. Un heureux mariage de modernité et de tradition. Montréal, quoi.

Cet album est un message d’amour et d’admiration pour cette grande métropole qu’on aime au moins tout autant que ces musiciens inspirés.

Ah oui, au fait : pourquoi YUL? C’est le code à trois lettres de l’aéroport international de Montréal.

Par Frédéric Cardin

YUL reviewed by All About Jazz

Alex Lefaivre: YUL

Surely this isn’t a Christmas recording released at the height of summer, you ask? Not a homage to the great Yul Brynner either? No, the title in question is less obvious and thankfully more interesting than that. Its appeal is a subtle kind, which is well suited to Alex Lefaivre‘s supportive sensibility as bassist. His strengths lie mainly in ideas, sketching out mood-evoking compositions, choosing effective bandmates and holding it all together at the center—not that he isn’t also capable of a tasteful solo or two when the time is right.

YUL‘s title actually comes from Montreal‘s airport code, and the recording conveys LeFaivre’s picture of his neighborhood in classy style. The pieces often rest somewhere between bop and balladry, largely groove-based with plenty of space for the group to stretch and play. Erik Hove gets the most prominent moments on saxophone, while Nicolas Ferron’s guitar evokes the smooth tone of Grant Green, alternately weaving alongside Hove’s nimble leads and hanging back in the rhythm-anchor role alongside LeFaivre’s syrupy electric lines. It would be missing the point to think of them as frontline or back line on a session like this anyway.

Rather, these pieces are mainly about creating a mood: often smoky and urbane, though sometimes with a left-field jolt (as in the wild, on-the-edge capering of the “Halloween” movie theme early on). “Cascade” also finds the group building to a collective clatter befitting its title, while most of the affair finds them content to groove along and explore each piece’s mood together. For those who’ve never been to Montreal, this glimpse of its urban nightlife is a classy and compelling taste.


YUL reviewed by Bird is the Worm

The Round-up: We grew up believing in lightning strikes of good luck

Here is some very good new music.

Alex Lefaivre Quartet – Yul (Multiple Chord Music)

This is wholly modern post-bop jazz, but there is something very old-school about Yul.  It’s like those classic Blue Note recordings where nothing groundbreaking was going down, but everything about the music was exciting.  Because if you get four musicians together who know how to trade volleys and honor a well-crafted melody when its presented them, and have as much fun comping a solo as they do riding one off to the horizon, well, it’s an electrical jolt that keeps you hitting the play button.  Bassist Alex Lefaivre gets that done on Yul, along with drummer Mark Nelson, guitarist Nicolas Ferron and an exceptional contribution from alto saxophonist Erik Hove.  Everyone sounds like they walked into the recording studio feeling at their best and ready to light things up.  Music from Montreal, Québec.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  BandcampAmazon


YUL featured in The Jazz Hole’s latest playlist

00:00 The Jazz Hole with Linus
02:12 Homage Claude Diallo, Linus Wyrsch
06:40 Crocodile Leni Stern, Gil Goldstein, Muhammed Faye, Princess Louise
11:35 Ties That Bind John Pittman
15:55 The Jazz Hole with Linus
18:39 Homiostasis John Pittman
23:36 VBlues Gilad Hekselman
30:20 Tokyo Cookies Gilad Hekselman
38:25 The Jazz Hole with Linus
42:28 The Righteous Alex Lefaivre Quartet
49:27 Estelle Alex Lefaivre Quartet
55:48 The Jazz Hole with Linus
56:34 Home John Pittman
59:43 Finish

Today’s episode of The Jazz Hole includes tracks from the brand new albums Kinship by John Pittman and Ask for Chaos by Gilad Hekselman. You also get to hear more music from Leni Stern’s 3 and from the Alex Lefaivre Quartet’s YUL, plus a track from the host of this show, Linus Wyrsch, from his own duo album with pianist Claude Diallo

YUL reviewed by The Whole Note

01 Alex Lefaivre

Alex Lefaivre Quartet
Multiple Chord Music (alexlefaivre.com)

YUL, a new release from bassist/bandleader Alex Lefaivre, is a modern jazz album whose compositions take inspiration from the “dreamy, hazy summer vibes” and “gritty, metropolitan edge” of Montreal, the city in which Lefaivre is based. For those unfamiliar with Lefaivre, he has been an active member of the Canadian music scene for well over a decade, both as part of the award-winning Parc X Trio, and as a founding member of the independent jazz label Multiple Chord Music.

Joining Lefaivre on YUL are Erik Hove, alto saxophone, Nicolas Ferron, electric guitar, and Mark Nelson, drums (Lefaivre plays electric bass throughout). It speaks both to the open quality of Lefaivre’s compositions and to the group’s instrumentation that there is ample room for each player’s individual voice to come through clearly, and, consequently, for a compelling group dynamic to emerge. This is certainly the case on the album’s first track, the medium-slow 3/4 time The Righteous, which features dynamic solos from Ferron and Hove, set atop patient, supportive comping from Lefaivre and Nelson. Even during YUL’s most bombastic moments – such as the breakbeat-heavy song The Juggernaut – there is considerable attention to balance and to dynamic detail. The album closes with the title track, a 5/4, straight-eighths song that contains some of the most exciting moments of the outing from all four band members, including a short, memorable drum solo from Nelson. YUL is a cumulative success – reflecting Lefaivre’s mature, cohesive musical vision.

YUL – Alex Lefaivre Quartet

YUL reviewed by Textura

Alex Lefaivre Quartet: YUL
Alex Lefaivre

It’s an axiom of jazz that any piece is fundamentally determined by the personnel performing it. One particularly good instantiation of that principle is YUL, an eight-track set of modern jazz written by Parc X Trio member Alex Lefaivre and performed by the electric bassist with alto saxophonist Erik Hove, guitarist Nicolas Ferron, and drummer Mark Nelson. Conceived as a love letter of sorts to Montreal (the title of the album, which was recorded on January 18, 2018 at the Boutique du Son studio, references the city’s airport code), the release draws for inspiration from Lefaivre’s beloved home town, a city celebrated for its beauty and cultural vitality; renowned for its annual jazz festival, Montreal attracts musicians from far and wide, many of whom decide to stay after savouring its abundant charms.

As occurs in the largely laid-back opener “The Righteous,” Hove is often the one voicing the theme, which allows the others greater latitude to rally around him with freer expressions. Ferron sometimes pairs with him to state the melody but as often circles around it, imaginatively riffing off the changes as Lefaivre and Nelson similarly hew to the compositional frame whilst also treating it elastically. Roles switch between the four with seeming ease, with one or two providing a foundation for the freer playing of the others, and solos are democratically distributed, Lefaivre taking his share but not overshadowing the others. As the episodic powerhouse “The Juggernaut” so effectively illustrates, YUL‘s music impresses as the creative spawn of a multi-limbed unit rather than with a single player leading the charge. The fluidity of the quartet’s playing is evident throughout, but perhaps never more appealingly than during “Skyline.”

Considerable contrasts are evident, with some pieces ballad-like (“Nostalgia”) and others fiery (“Cascade”). Lefaivre largely eschews breakneck tempos, which allows the listener to better appreciate the interactions in play. In some cases, marked fluctuations in dynamics occur within a single piece, such that “Estelle,” for example, alternates between ponderous and energized episodes. YUL favours a jazz style more connected to instrumental rock and fusion than traditional swing, though the quartet’s playing isn’t characterized by the rawness associated with rock, each of the four opting for a refined, distortion-free attack that’s easy on the ears. That doesn’t mean, however, that the group isn’t capable of generating heat when the material calls for it.

In an inspired move, the album’s sole cover isn’t something on the order of “All the Things You Are” (not that that would be objectionable, necessarily) but rather a treatment of John Carpenter’s “Halloween,” its theme originating from his cult-classic 1978 horror movie. Naturally ominous in tone, the material unfolds methodically, with Hove and Ferron initially anchoring the performance by focusing on the melody as Nelson extemporizes liberally. The scene set, the saxophonist departs from a straight voicing of the theme for an explorative solo, which the guitarist matches in his own expansive turn moments later.

There’s a very specific synergy and chemistry that arises in the interactions between the four individuals on YUL. Had any one of them been substituted by another musician playing the same instrument, the album result would have been significantly different in character. As strong as Lefaivre’s compositions are, melodically and otherwise, it’s their realization by this particular foursome that is the greatest difference-maker.

August 2018