Le caillou: 1998-2013
Danielle Palardy Roger / Ensemble SuperMusique (ESM)
Danielle Palardy Roger has such a consistent sonic concept that she can release a disc such as Le caillou with seven performances from 1998 to 2013 and have the disc sound as if came from one session. — The WholeNote, Canada
Chapeau! — Vital, Netherlands
Prix Opus 2013-14: Disque de l’année — Finaliste
Long after the demise of my bands Wondeur Brass and Justine, in 1998 I organized what became the first Ensemble SuperMusique’s concert. It featured my closest collaborators from Ambiances Magnétiques label as well as a few musicians who used to gravitate around the label. On that occasion, we premiered my composition Le caillou, le cristal et le camion (“The Pebble, The Crystal and The Truck”). Like most of musique actuelle’s works, this piece has never been played again but for the first mouvement, Le caillou sur le chemin, that has become one of my most played improv-based pieces. It consists of a graphic score for six or more improvisers and it has been rearranged at least fifteen times for as many different ensembles. Le caillou is a simple game piece in which the players pass the musical development of the piece to each other while building up a slow crescendo; another set of instructions tells the musicians to trace back their steps and play as exactly as possible what they did play the first time around. Fifteen years later, here I am, filled with the desire to find again some of those pebbles, scattered here and there on the path that the Ensemble SuperMusique has walked on since then. I’ve already found two of them: they’re now cracked… — DPR
- Composer(s): Danielle Palardy Roger
- Performer(s): Ensemble SuperMusique (ESM)
- Cover image: Céline Côté
- Graphic design: Joane Hétu
CD (AM 215)
- 1Le caillou sur le chemin (1998), 8:05
- 2The Stone (2007), 8:57
- 3Le cristal (1998), 16:21
- 4Le caillou aléatoire (2011), 9:09
- 5Le caillou pour Léandre (2011), 4:53
- 6Le camion (1998), 2:44
- 7Le caillou #13 (2013), 4:40
- Label: Ambiances Magnétiques
- AM 215
- UCC 771028121526
- Total duration: 54:48
- Sympathique case
- 126 mm × 126 mm × 5 mm
- 35 g
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In the press
Something in the Air: Translating a Singular Vision to a Large Ensemble
Reflecting one person’s imagination, musical composition is an intimate art. But, especially if the creation is wide ranging and sonically multihued, sympathetic interpreters are needed to express the composer’s vision. As this group of CDs demonstrates, notable interpretations of a composer’s singular vision can illuminate the writers’ concepts. (…)
For her part, Montreal percussionist Danielle Palardy Roger has such a consistent sonic concept that she can release a disc such as Le caillou with seven performances from 1998 to 2013 and have the disc sound as if came from one session. Featuring a shifting cast of 23 musicians called Ensemble SuperMusique, most tracks are variations on her original composition Le caillou (the pebble), a multi-faceted game piece which allows improvisers to collaborate on its musical development. Over the CD’s course everything from bel canto-like whoops to Sun Ra-like interplanetary percussion rumbles to top-of-range clarinet shrills and turntable scratching takes centre stage. With sequences that shift from rustic fiddle-and-guitar interludes to rock-styled drumming and intense jazz-like sax-and trombone lick trading, part of the fun for the listener being kept off balance. But this flexibility includes consistency. Even contributions from ebullient French bassist Joëlle Léandre, featured on one track, are no more prominent than others. Although The Stone the one Manhattan recorded tune is the most challenging in its strident stropped string and slapped percussion outlay, the defining track is Le cristal. Seemingly encompassing something for everyone from straight-ahead swing and martial rhythms, to splayed rock-guitar chords, dog-whistle altissimo to closely harmonized woodwinds the track encompasses bedlam, baroque and bop, Highlighted by a well-paced duet between Jean-Denis Levasseur’s clarinet and Jean Derome’s also sax, the climax preserves the beat and theme with jumping strings and to-the-point percussion. (…)
A new bunch of CDs from Ambiances Magnetiques. From Goldstein and Wiens we know earlier releases as a trio with Ganesh Anandan and John Heward. This time Jean Derome is their partner. As a trio however they have already performed for a longer time. On april 12th, 2013 they recorded this crystal clear recording in the studio. Goldstein playing violin, Wiens mainly prepared electric guitar plus kalimba, and Derome alto sax, flute and objects. Intense and concentrated improvisations with lots of colour and sounds. Fine interplay and interaction between these reputed players, with some breath-taking moments. Like Derome, Robert Marcel Lepage is one of the founding members of Ambiances Magnétiques. He didn’t release many albums in the last few years if I’m right, but now he strikes back with two releases. He presents the more light-hearted and accessible part of the Montréal musical spectrum. Le lait maternel contains 18 compositions Lepage wrote between 2003 and 2010 for film. It has some very catchy tunes like the jumpy Le Rock du Bungalow that evokes orchestral film music from the 60s. Good time music! Very friendly music, tapping from a diversity of styles and idioms. Pieces on Canard Branchu leave some more room for improvisation, but in essence this is also an album of melodious and harmonious music, typical for the Ambiances scene since the 80s. Again performed for a big ensemble of 9 musicians. So both albums offer a bunch of well-defined tunes, dressed up in fine arrangements giving voice to many different instruments and sounds. They may not surprise you, but will sure entertain you. With the new release by Palardy we turn again to a more serious face of this scene. Again we are dealing with one of the early member of the Ambiances scene. Self-taught Danielle Palardy Roger made her mark since the early 80s with groups like Justine, Wondeur Brass and Les Poules. In the last few years — since about 1998 — she concentrates on writing for Ensemble SuperMusique, an ensemble that was founded by her. Compared with earlier projects by her, this one is most close to composed new music and deals with the play between improvisation and composition. Le Caillou is one of her oldest and most played works for this ensemble. It “is a simple game piece in which the players pass the musical development of the piece to each other while building up a slow crescendo; another set of instructions tells the musicians to trace back their steps and play as exactly as possible what they did play the first time around”, Roger explains. The one that surprised me most this time is Quartetski doing Stravinsky. Quartetski is a project founded by Pierre-Yves Martel in 2007, focused on reinterpreting works of classical composers in an improvised setting. They reworked compositions by Prokofiev, Purcell, Satie, Ellington, Cage, a.o. Because of the 100th anniversary of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring they decided to chose this work. Besides Pierre-Yves Martel (viola da gamba, objects), we hear Isaiah Ceccarelli (drums), Bernard Falaise (electric guitar), Philippe Lauzier (bass clarinet, soprano sax) and Joshua Zubot (violin). Marvellous job in transposing this orchestral work for small ensemble. Martel started from Stravinsky’s two-piano version of this composition. His re-working leaves the original work in tact concerning spirit, energy and drive that is in the original piece. Adding room for improvisation. Chapeau!
Il materiale di Le Caillou è frutto di un meccanismo improvvisativo ideato dalla percussionista Danielle Palardy Roger, che sul finire degli anni novanta dopo lo scioglimento delle Justine aggregò attorno a sé un gruppo di musicisti affiliati all’Ambiances Magnétiques dando vita all’Ensemble SuperMusique. Oggi il progetto rinasce per la pubblicazione di questo cd, in cui i vari musicisti (fra cui Jean Derome, Bernard Falaise e Joëlle Léandre) sviluppano il proprio tema in base a uno schema predefinito che li pone ciclicamente al centro del processo compositivo, dando vita a sette diversi movimenti ricchi di estro ed inventiva.
Ensemble SuperMusique, has become more ambitious as their ranks have swelled with new members over the past few years. This version now features some twenty musicians including founding members: Jean Derome, Joane Hétu, Diane Labrosse, Pierre Cartier, Bernard Falaise, Danielle Palardy Roger and Pierre Tanguay plus newer members Lori Freedman, Charity Chan, Isaiah Ceccarelli and Alexandre St-Onge. Their guest from across the pond is French bassist Joëlle Léandre.
I’ve caught this ensemble a few times over the past few years at the Victo and Guelph Festivals and know that there are a number of long-evolved concepts, themes or directions which help focus what they do and make their music a bit easier to understand. Especially while watching them live or reading liner notes in English, one gets a better idea of what is going on. Listening to this music on CD and not being able to translate the liner notes in French force to focus more closely on the music found within.
The twenty musicians who are involved here play various reeds, strings, trombone, piano, basses, turntable, sampler and several percussionists. There is a careful, well-sculpted or directed approach going on. A few different subsections emerge from certain more chaotic moments and then interact or are interspersed between select connected fragments. I dig when the occasional melodic line or unexpected change in direction suddenly appear and then quickly disappear. Although there is no singer listed, odd bits of voices are used to pepper the proceedings in whimsical ways. Some of my favorite moments feature the great saxist/flutist Jean Derome, who always adds his distinctive bent-note charm at the right times.
There is a playful visual element that can be seen whenever we catch this ensemble play live, which also can be heard in this music as it swerves through different scenes. Each piece sounds or feels like a different episode in an ongoing (TV?) story or series. There is one piece that was recorded live at The Stone, most likely when I was a volunteer working the door to help my Québécois friends feels more comfortable. As with most discs on the AM label, I look forward to digging deeper into what makes them so special.
Le Caillou [The Pebble or The Stone] is an improvisation concept by Danielle Palardy Roger. Here it is in five realizations recorded between 1998 and 2013, plus the other two movements (Le Cristal and Le Camion) of the suite it was first designed for. Personnel varies greatly (I’ll point out a guest appearance by Joëlle Léandre), locations too (live, in studio, in Montréal, in New York), but each take delivers top-notch structured improvising. The development of the improvisation bounces from musician to musician, allowing each one to establish their personality while also blending into the group’s playing. Ambiances Magnétiques fans know all the musicians here and will take pleasure in following them has the pebble changes hands.