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18 septembre 2017
Par Dave Madden in The Squid’s Ear (ÉU), 18 septembre 2017

Texte

«Technical virtuosity meets a virtuosity in cleverness is the best way to describe this music. Homage, respect, innovation: paint that on a banner and hang it at the next Quartetski show.»

Quartetski’s interpretation of classic works has been a mixed approach in the best possible way. Their version of Stravinski’s Le Sacre du printemps adhered near 50% of the time to the mystical original, the other portion being a different type of genius musical accoutrement.* The group’s Prokofiev covers turned the Russian composer into a hard-bopping jazz man. Now the quintet (oh the irony) sifts through 96 acts that make up the first three books of “progressive piano pieces” by Béla Bartók’s Mikrokosmos and offers 25 greatest hits.

The results here are… fun. They range from playful, naïve (per the simpler works intended as etudes for Bartók’s young son Péter) to mischievous to bold to sweet and stark. Livre I: I. Six mélodies à l’unisson wiggles out of the corner with Bernard Falaise’s gentle guitar melody. He hangs on a last note as Phillippe Lauzier’s bass clarinet and Isaiah Ceccarelli on xylophone meander in the delicate simplicity. Violinist Joshua Zubot offers a syrupy line and pause before the group — with Pierre-Yves Martel rounding out the mix on electric bass guitar — slams into a stint of rocking out. Turning on a dime, Lauzier is joined by a drifting melodica until a micro-burst of slinky jazz slips in. Livre III: XIII. Gamme pentatonique shimmers with a bloated pitch-shifting guitar (as in it sounds like someone skronking on a harmonizer pedal), slightly-out-of-tune synth and lively pizzicato from Zubot. An icy, wandering duet of wind instruments (soprano sax riffing that would make sense coming out of Evan Parker) meets lithe, mandolin-like strums, and the band slams back into the relatively pummeling, lugubrious rock; the mania of the sax persists as the rest of the crew hunker into a big ol’ groove.

Livre II: VI. Accompagnement en accords brisés comes with slide whistle sounds, pick slides, sexy rhythmic patterns, fun accordion-like chords (more melodica), the work coming off as Tom Waits scoring a Jim Jarmusch flick; Livre II: X. Méditation adopts the same aesthetic, but adds sultry tremolo guitar to the fold. Livre II: Dialogue is 43 seconds of punctuating distorted crunch whose last pluck probably ended with tongue out and a devil horns hand pose.

Makrokosmos, the final and longest piece at over nine minutes, is the quintet sinking into a wave of droning material with wispy gestures of bowed cymbals, squeaking harmonics and deep rumbles percolating to the surface. The juxtaposition of style here furthers the mystique of the album in that, sonically, it eulogizes the previous tracks. “Bartók, you are why we are gathered today, and this record is an artifact to the influence you had on us. Look at what your legacy produced!”

Technical virtuosity meets a virtuosity in cleverness is the best way to describe this music. Homage, respect, innovation: paint that on a banner and hang it at the next Quartetski show.

*This is an album that will be included in my desert island bunker.

blogue@press-5730 press@5730
6 septembre 2017
Par Massimo Ricci in Touching Extremes (Italie), 6 septembre 2017

Texte

«The activities of Lepage and Lussier — quirkily proficient in clarinet and guitar respectively — are exquisitely complemented by Bozzini’s strings…»

We’re here reporting about the most recent effort by a pair of pillars of Québec’s scene, of whom this reviewer bought the vinyl version of their first collaboration — Chants Et Danses Du Monde Inanimé — shortly after it came out in 1984 (gasp). We never looked back, in case you’re asking.

Conventum, ever heard of them? Le Trésor De La Langue, anyone? Does the title La Traversée De La Mémoire Morte ring any bell? There is time to do some homework, no problem. But please do it if you’re not acquainted with these perennially acute artists yet.

The activities of Lepage and Lussier — quirkily proficient in clarinet and guitar respectively — are exquisitely complemented by Bozzini’s strings across a cycle of pieces long enough to give the idea of a fully formed concept and short enough to make sure that, once the picture has been drawn, there is no need to dwell on it more than necessary.

It’s a clever choice, because this is unpredictable music who literally defies categories. Furiously arrhythmic and incredibly poised; strengthened by commitment and ironically derisive; replete with melodic sketches which, in a matter of seconds, melt individual meanings in a contrapuntal cauldron of distortion, dissonance and — for lack of a better description — unobtrusive clangor.

Sometimes the mind’s gates get opened to sudden contemplative flashes. Those don’t last too much, either. Basically it’s all a “catch-a-glimpse” game: one may succeed or simply not realize what’s going on. When the ears manage to convey a precisely articulated message to the brain, chances are that Lussier, Lepage and the good people at Bozzini’s will find a way to disrupt whatever was learnt a moment before.

And they always do that armed with a wry smile emerging from nowhere, perhaps in the middle of a semi-organized chunk that doesn’t fit in any mental archive.

In another age, we could have stamped this album with a “sonic art for the modern times” definition. However, faint lights of yesteryear occasionally guided us along a path that exploits the memory as a catalyzer of transmissions related to some kind of “future”. A place where language is truly just the virus hypothesized by Bill Burroughs, exclusively curable through the use of instantaneous decisions dictated by instrumental adroitness.

Let’s sing and dance ourselves, then — and raise our aerials up. Maybe we’re set to untie the knots of incommunicability, and we don’t even know it.

blogue@press-5731 press@5731
1 septembre 2017
Par Marc Chénard in La Scena Musicale #23:1 (Québec), 1 septembre 2017

Texte

«En 2010, le tromboniste Scott Thomson quittait la Ville Reine pour s’installer à Montréal. Désireux de changer de décor, il vient faire son tour chez nous, question de tâter le terrain. Dame Chance sourit dès le départ: le propriétaire du logement qu’il loue n’est nul autre que… Jean Derome

En 2010, le tromboniste Scott Thomson quittait la Ville Reine pour s’installer à Montréal. Désireux de changer de décor, il vient faire son tour chez nous, question de tâter le terrain. Dame Chance sourit dès le départ: le propriétaire du logement qu’il loue n’est nul autre que… Jean Derome! Sept ans plus tard, il a trouvé sa place au sein du collectif Ambiances magnétiques en y devenant leur tromboniste de service. Outre des présences à titre d’accompagnateur, il a également réalisé deux disques à son nom pour l’étiquette.

Depuis l’an dernier, il a rehaussé considérablement son profil à titre d’organisateur de projets. En juin 2016, il a codirigé avec le saxo John Oswald un projet original pour orchestre de cuivres présenté au festival Suoni per il Popolo. Trois mois plus tard, il récidivait en rassemblant une formation ambitieuse de vingt musiciens de Montréal et de Toronto autour du saxophoniste Roscoe Mitchell. Jamais deux sans trois, Thomson relève un nouveau défi cette année en assumant la direction artistique du Guelph Jazz Festival.

Fondé en 1994 par Ajay Heble, professeur de littérature à l’université locale, cet événement mise particulièrement sur un jazz très contemporain, voire expérimental. En 2015, son âme dirigeante s’est retirée de ses fonctions de programmateur, le vide étant comblé par une première directrice intérimaire cette même année et un second l’année suivante. Thomson, pour sa part, était depuis longtemps un habitué de ces scènes, donc en pays de connaissance. Pour la vingt-quatrième édition, tenue ce mois-ci, il compte bien plus faire sa marque derrière la scène que devant public.

Pour lui, tout s’est passé de fil en aiguille. «Le festival était aussi aux prises avec de sérieux problèmes financiers l’automne dernier, son avenir remis en question, mais un nouveau conseil a décidé de poursuivre. Un concours a donc été ouvert pour le poste; j’ai posé ma candidature, on m’a convoqué à une entrevue et, trois semaines plus tard, après le Nouvel An, on m’a engagé.»

Un défi de taille l’attendait, car il n’avait que trois mois pour boucler la programmation, et ce, dans un cadre financier encore serré. «C’est un peu comme un test de qualification, autant pour moi, car on m’a fait signer un contrat d’un an, que pour la survie même du festival à plus long terme.»

Thomson tient avant toute chose à maintenir ce fil conducteur aventureux. Par ailleurs, le festival accueille un symposium dédié à l’improvisation auquel sont convoqués des experts dans le domaine, une composante dirigée désormais par le professeur Heble.

Outre les efforts déployés sur le contenu, un directeur artistique doit aussi penser contenant, soit à le rendre attrayant et convivial. Cette année, Thomson a instauré des arrangements forfaitaires d’un jour (le samedi, journée habituellement la plus remplie) ainsi qu’un service de navette depuis Toronto pour les intéressés.

Bien qu’il soit musicien avant tout, Thomson ne veut pas se servir du festival pour ses ambitions artistiques. «Je serai là uniquement pour écouter. Si les circonstances le justifient un jour, je jouerai, mais ce n’est pas mon but.»

blogue@press-5729 press@5729
29 août 2017
Par Paul Steenhuisen in The WholeNote (Canada), 29 août 2017

Texte

«At times haunting and tense, their sound is also unadorned, unaffected and exquisite.»

For its 23rd CD, Quatour Bozzini has produced a monograph recording with an almost-chronological retrospective of music by Christopher Butterfield. Spanning more than 20 years, it contains three pieces for solo strings and two string quartets. Clinamen (the Latin name Lucretius gave to the unpredictable swerve of atoms), for solo violin (1999), is made up of 80 cards, each containing a short musical phrase, combined according to the free will of the performer. Intentionally inchoate, the piece is bound together most prominently by the honey tone of Clemens Merkel’s playing, and yet, there are whispers of its compositional technique, as though related materials were sketched, bent through historical filters from classical music to modern, and then splayed by means of William S. Burroughs’ cut-up technique.

Fall (2013), written for the full quartet, is the perfect vehicle for the Bozzinis’ signature non-vibrato playing. At times haunting and tense, their sound is also unadorned, unaffected and exquisite. Engaged in material processes of rotation and accumulation, the ensuing tone of the piece is plaintive and distantly evocative of Cage’s String Quartet in Four Parts. The eponymous Trip (meaning possibly all of: excursion, to dance or run lightly, to stumble or fall, to release and raise an anchor, and to hallucinate) is an outlandish journey from a short Scorrevole movement augmented by a random talk radio broadcast, through a moto perpetuo, to a swaying, recapitulatory Scherzo. The last movement, marked Adagio molto, is longer than the preceding movements combined, and sounds not simply slow but like a time-stretched recording, where the smallest, usually ordinary timbral deviation is magnified and burnished, while notes, lines and harmonies are expanded into tranquillizing beauty.

blogue@press-5725 press@5725
1 juillet 2017
Par Geoffrey Lain in Mouton Noir #22:06 (Québec), 1 juillet 2017

Coupure de presse

blogue@press-5713 press@5713
28 juin 2017
Par Brian Olewnick in The Squid’s Ear (ÉU), 28 juin 2017

Texte

«Overall an extremely satisfying release — absorbing music incisively performed by Quatuor Bozzini

Butterfield (b. 1952) is a long-time teacher and composer, operating largely in Toronto and Montréal. As a teacher, he has a number of students working in various contemporary areas, including Wandelweiser-influenced, who assign him a great deal of credit for their development.

The Quatuor Bozzini, which also works out of Montréal, presents five of his works ranging in origin from 1991 to 2013: two quartets, a sextet and two solo pieces, all of them bracing and enjoyable. Lullaby (1991) adds an additional viola and cello. It’s a somewhat disorienting lullaby, broken up at times by nightmarish shrieks, but by and large it wafts along with luscious, quavering harmonics, sometimes entering surprising, perhaps dreamlike song formations, reminding this listener of Ben Johnston’s work. Maybe some Tenney as well. Generally, Butterfield’s music, as represented here, often goes off in unexpected, delightful directions where one can hear (or think to hear) this or that reference but still comes away with more of a Butterfield-ness than anything else. Lullaby is an excellent example of this. beach whistle (1993) and Clinamen (1999) are solo works for cello and violin, respectively, the former a sober conversation of sorts between high and low, plucked and bowed, the later portions strangely melancholy and evocative while Clinamen is something of a dance, flitting from one light form to another (it’s constructed from 80 short phrases which the violinist can combine in any sequence he/she chooses).

The final two pieces are for string quartet proper. As per the composer’s notes, fall (2013) is “(b)ased on the chromatic rotation of a four-note row” with a randomized dynamic range. The result is a hymn like structure but, as Butterfield says, “unpredictable ’voice leading’ and a sense of undependable harmony.” One experiences a vivid spatial effect, the louder chards seemingly “nearer” than others, an otherwise self-similar landscape where perceived distance is the sonic qualifier. Additionally, the overall meditative aspect of the music itself permeates this landscape, somber and disquietingly beautiful. Trip (2008) is in four sections, the first three short (each less than 2:30) while the final lasts some 13 1/2 minutes. The three brief movements are brisk and rich (the first incorporating a talk radio capture), rather Neo-Romantic in flavor while the final (marked Adagio molto) is dark, scratchy, agitated and brooding, though not discarding an underlying tonality; I found myself thinking of Arnold Böcklin’s paintings.

Overall an extremely satisfying release — absorbing music incisively performed by Quatuor Bozzini.

blogue@press-5711 press@5711