Today Is a Special Day

Philippe Lauzier, Miles Perkin, Robbie Kuster

A 21st Century advance on jazz chamber music, Today is a Special Day more than lives up to the inference of its title. The WholeNote, Canada

Their jazz is stimulating, yet mild and totally pleasant. Signal to Noise, USA

The debut album by these young, excellent musicians blends original compositions and improvisations into a dynamic and open contemporary jazz.

This modern jazz trio has a fluid, nuanced sound, and its debut album delivers surprisingly varied dynamics. Through experiments in rhythm, melody and texture, the group finds its own musical identity, in which rock and contemporary chamber music influences meet without being obviously felt. Irradiating curiosity, the open-ended sound of the trio is alluring, as it always offers something new to discover. The playing is articulated, interactive, and it marvelously conveys the creative spirit and collective fun of the three musicians.

Philippe Lauzier, Miles Perkin and Robbie Kuster have been working as a trio for the past year. They perform regularly together and separately in a number of other groups. They recorded Today is a Special Day in December 2005; the title commemorates that day they spent creating together.

CD (AM 149)

  • Label: Ambiances Magnétiques Jazz
  • AM 149
  • 2006
  • UCC 771028114924
  • Total duration: 49:26
  • Sympathique case
  • 126 mm × 126 mm × 5 mm
  • 50 g

On the web

Some recommended items
In the press

Le influenze francesi di certo jazz canadese

Alberto Bazzurro, Musica Jazz, no. 62:11, November 1, 2006

Il Canada francofono ha ormai da tempo un occhio sul jazz ben più prossimo a quello dei cugini francesi che non dei dirimpettai americani. […] Il più felice è senz’altro Today Is A Special Day, con Philippe Lauzier alle ance, Miles Perkin al basso e Robbie Kuster alla batteria. Vi si respira un’aria squisitamente francese (appunto), una preziosità suadente, non di rado danzante, un tono soffice, colloquiale, cameristico, molto attento alle timbriche e a non scostarsi troppo da una cantabilità che di rado cede il passo ad angolosità, le quali non fanno poi che ampliare lo spettro climatico del lavoro, valorizzandone le sfaccettature. […]


Dionisio Capuano, Blow Up, no. 101, October 1, 2006

Giovani, tecnicamente dotati, ascoltatori trasversali della musica, Lauzier, Perkin e Kuster propongono la loro “differenza”, che rende speciale il “giorno speciale”. Un bilanciamento (melodia e arrangiamenti, rapporto scrittura e improvvisazione) tra jazz e rock in opposition (Bulgarian Rhythm). La musica si sviluppa suggestiva (Mélodie pentatonique), di traverso. Le ance di Lauzier suonano temi ed armonie che sono fluidificazioni di Art Bears, Henry Cow o News From Babel. Ad esempio, nell’intro di Tanz, e negli sviluppi a spartito di Broken Glass, dove è particolarmente esemplare il morphing tra i due “generi”, incarnato in maniera ipostatica da Perkin, il quale suona il contrabbasso su derive jazz, ma quando canta - vocalismi senza parole - ha cadenze art progressive. La tecnica percussiva di Kuster, con i suoi influssi cutleriani, accentua l’atmosfera Recommended. Affiorano altri retrogusti: la classica extracolta tonale, lo Stravinskij più leggiadro, il quid beffardo di Satie, la ballata popolare (The Cocoon). Cose nuove in una lingua meticcia che è ben più della semplice contaminazione di generi. (7/10)


Ken Waxman, The WholeNote, no. 12:1, September 1, 2006

Audacious as well as artful, this Montréal disc shows what can result when free improvisation meshes with knowledge of notated New music. Architecturally organized, the nine originals and two “covers” make up an exceptional version of chamber music that avoids fussy inversion and directionless jamming.

One indication of the trio’s fearlessness is that the “covers” are of compositions by Béla Bartók. Here, the composer’s Bulgarian Rhythm takes on a Latin tinge courtesy of Robbie Kuster’s percussion and ends with a section of double-tonguing by alto saxophonist Philippe Lauzier, and double stopping from bassist Miles Perkin.

Confirming their innovative thinking, the three follow a clarinet-plucked bass-and-drum reading of Bartók’s Mélodie pentatonique with an improv that flows from it. Reharmonized, the tune incorporates distinctive tongue stops and intense vibrato from Lauzier, reverberating strings from Perkin and a modified march beat on wooden blocks from Kuster.

Probably the best example of their mature talents is Perkin’s Broken Glass, divided into sonata-like sections. Near the top, a sliding bass invention gives way to buzzing sul ponticello accompanied by squealing saxophone split tones and contrapuntal drum pummelling. After a side-slipping obbligato from the altoist is matched by a walking bass line, the penultimate variation harmonizes reed notes with the bassist’s wordless vocalizing. Echoing sax runs plus answering arco swipes from Perkin form the spacey finale.

A 21st Century advance on jazz chamber music, Today is a Special Day more than lives up to the inference of its title.

A 21st Century advance on jazz chamber music, Today is a Special Day more than lives up to the inference of its title.


Andrew Choate, Signal to Noise, no. 43, September 1, 2006
Their jazz is stimulating, yet mild and totally pleasant.


Dolf Mulder, Vital, no. 537, August 2, 2006

Since a few years the Ambiances Magnétiques invests in new talent. With these both releases we have another proof of this policy in our hands. On both CDs we find a trio at work. With Today is a Special Day the trio with Philippe Lauzier (alto and soprano saxes), Miles Perkin (double bass and voice) and Robbie Kuster (drums and percussion) make their first statement. Lauzier is from Montréal where he studied saxophone and composition. He is active in the fields of jazz and new music. Miles Perkin, is another rising star in the Montréal music scene. The projects he is involved in, are to many to mention. As a composer he leads his own ensemble Common Thread. Also working on many fronts in Montréal is swiss-born Robbie Kuster. As a trio they exist about two years now. Most of the compositions are by Lauzier, some others by Perkin. Also they adapt two compositions by Béla Bartók: Mélodie pentatonique and Bulgarian Rhythm. Their jazz is far from traditionalistic, but also not superbly modern, but somewhere in the middle. With their disciplined and well crafted playing they create an open and dynamic music that is very mature. In all respects a very consistent trio of dedicated players with a clear concept and identity. Couldn’t find a weak spot here.

Totally different is Idiolalla, a collaboration of two female singers, DB Boyko and Christine Duncan, completed by Jean Martin on drums. This trio is specialized in very free form improvisations, with mainly both vocalists on the forefront. From Vancouver comes DB Boyko. She worked with the NOW Orchestra and made impression with her song-cycle Amphibious Tales in the 90’s. Of both Christine Duncan - with a five octave range - is the one who has the most experience. She worked with Kenny Wheeler, Paul Horn, etc. Percussionist Jean Martin worked with David Murray, Lori Freedman, and many others. So speaking of ‘new talents’ should be taken as a very relative notion. By the way, Duncan and Martin also perform as a duo. The non-verbal mouth music of this trio is very dramatic and intense. Drummer Martin plays modest but effective. But when listening repeatedly to this CD, I could not suppress the thought that all becomes a bit more of the same. Which is may be due to the free form character of their improvisations. So how expressive and adventurous the improvisations may be, this does not guarantee a CD that impresses from beginning to the end.


Réjean Beaucage, Voir, June 22, 2006

C’est la batterie de Robbie Kuster qui accroche l’oreille dès l’ouverture de Tanz, en se balançant sur un rythme saccadé de mécanique claudicante. Puis, c’est la clarinette basse de Philippe Lauzier (aussi au sax) qui étonne. On dirait du Stravinski période Histoire du soldat… Pas vraiment étonnant de la part d’un trio jazz qui emprunte aussi deux pièces à Béla Bartók! Sa Mélodie pentatonique et son Bulgarian Rhythm prennent ici des couleurs étonnantes! Ailleurs, dans Porte des Lilas, par exemple, c’est la contrebasse de Miles Perkin qui semble se prendre pour un sax.

Sa Mélodie pentatonique et son Bulgarian Rhythm prennent ici des couleurs étonnantes!


François Couture, AllMusic, June 15, 2006

Ambiances Magnétiques has been playing the talent scouts since 2002 or so, and that strategy is starting to pay off, with young musicians like Antoine Berthiaume, Pierre-Yves Martel and Philippe Lauzier all releasing new albums in May/June 2006. This is Lauzier’s second release for the Montréal label — the reedsman is the founder of Ensemble en pièces, whose Jardin d’Exil CD inaugurated the Ambiances Magnétiques collection back in 2004. Bassist Miles Perkin is one of Thom Gossage’s regular sidemen and he has performed in Tom Walsh’s NOMA} (although not on the group’s Ambiances Magnétiques release; this is his first appearance on the label). Drummer Robbie Kuster also comes from Montréal’s leftfield (yet more conventional) jazz scene, with to his credit several participations to projects led by Patrick Watson and Yannick Rieu. Recorded over two days in December 2005, Today is a Special Day offers 11 pieces, most of them written by Lauzier (Perkin contributes two, and there are two quirky readings of Béla Bartók} tunes). Lauzier’s compositions are usually playful, with an occasional tender side (Histoire du mendiant, featuring his seductive bass clarinet tone). The music stems from post-bop influences, with an obvious filiation with Jean Derome’s lighter side, although the trio’s music doesn’t have the latter’s angular feel. And how couldn’t we think of Steve Lacy when listening to The Cocoon with that graceful, slightly mischievous soprano sax leading the way. Perkin and Kuster form a supple rhythm section, adept at both freeflowing jazz and trashier jazz-rock (Ivresse} ending the album with a bang). Don’t pass this album by on the count that you don’t know these cats yet, especially if you’ve been longing for a new Jean Derome et les Dangereux Zhoms album — not that the Lauzier/Perkin/Kuster Trio emulates that band, but one finds in their music the same kind of intelligence, soul and joie de vivre.

… intelligence, soul and joie de vivre.

Félix-Antoine Hamel, La Scena Musicale, no. 11:9, June 1, 2006

Le label montréalais Ambiances Magnétiques continue sa série Jazz avec ce jeune trio, dirigé par le saxophoniste Philippe Lauzier. Auteur de la majorité des thèmes, Lauzier a aussi adapté deux pièces tirées des Mikrokosmos de Bartók, et le contrebassiste Miles Perkin contribue de deux compositions. Si l’album commence de façon plutôt polie, l’usage de la clarinette basse et du soprano varie judicieusement le son, et dès la quatrième piste, Broken Glass, le groupe explore un terrain un peu plus glissant. Les deux pièces de Bartók fonctionnent très bien dans ce contexte et rappellent celles du trio Romano / Sclavis / Texier. Un petit bémol: les pièces, plutôt courtes, ne permettent pas au groupe de vraiment «faire lever» le tout, quoique la batterie de Kuster sur la finale Ivresse (un thème qui rappelle un peu Thomas Chapin) laisse entrevoir un autre registre. Un quatre étoiles pour un début prometteur.

Un quatre étoiles pour un début prometteur.