Dolf Mulder, Vital, no. 795, August 29, 2011

These four new releases from Ambiances Magnetiques and the Malasartes sub label introduce works from relatively new as well as well-known musicians. The CDs of Vertical Squirrels and Irem Bekter satisfied me most. But not only because their names are new to me. Vertical Squirrels is a quartet consisting of Ajay Heble (piano, melodica, percussion), Daniel Fischlin (guitars, effects, percussion, flute, provencale), Lewis Melville (bass, baritone, banjo bass, percussion, radio frequencies, grand organ) and Rob Wallace (drums, percussion, vocals). They are on the road since 2008. All four gathered lots of experience in all corners. Combined in this line up this proves to be a fruitful combination. Very diverse, and fresh music is the result. All pieces originate from collective improvisations but are very diverse, with a fine sense of humor. The cd opens with a grooving piece Spunk in your Funk which is great fun. In contrast the next piece is a very open improvisation abstracting from beat, rhythm, etc. Also the pieces that follow are free exercises of somehow rock-based improvisations. Danse des araignées mécaniques opens with a fine solo by Heble on what seems a self-prepared piano. La mnémologie / Amnesiaville is a delicious free rock jam. Pierre Labbé also incorporates many influences in his new work. He tries the bigband-format for his new cd. For this ambitious project Labbé composed a suite of contemporary music and avant-jazz and rock, performed by a 13-piece big band, in a way that reminds me sometimes of the belgian Flat Earth Society. Labbé is known for his work with Les Projectionnistes, L’Orkestre des pas perdus and Papa Boa, a band who sadly made only one cd. Also under his own name you can find some releases. The opening track plays with bluesy and funky motives. Further on Labbé touches on many other styles and idioms. Although I often enjoy a playful style of composing and arranging as Labbé is practicing here, this time it failed to impress me. That brings us to another one from the trio Derome-Guilbeault-Tanguay. Their first release contained music composed by Derome only. The second one contained old standards for the most part. On their new one we have a balance between standards and compositions by Derome. Besides five compositions from Derome, they interpret compositions by jazz giants as Ellington, Kirk, Dolphy, Strayhorn and Mengelberg. So it’s an exercise as we have heard earlier form this trio. Another celebration of their love for jazz. It will surely appeal to those we are into jazz. Ah yes, it has Derome singing in one track, I’m Checking Ou’t, good bye. Singing in all tracks, is what Irem Bekter is doing on her Primero by the Irem Bekter Quintet. Singer, dancer and actress Bekter was born in Istanbul and grew up in England. She feels very attracted to Argentine folklore, especially the “zapateo” (Argentinian podorythmy) and folk dances. Since 2003, Montréal is the place to be for her. With Montréal-based musicians she started to explore traditional Argentine folklore fruitfully combined with classical and jazzy influences. First results are reflected on this CD. Just beautiful.

Just beautiful.