A far more effective take on the jazz tradition is Pee Wee et moi, Robert Marcel Lepage’s tribute to clarinetist Pee Wee Russell. The album features 12 wonderful originals and two Russell tunes arranged for no less than seven clarinets. And while that may sound like a jazz nightmare, Lepage’s quirky compositions and the fine rhythm section playing of Normand Guibeault, Pierre Tanguay and René Lussier make for a moody and interesting album that paints a vivid tapestry of Russell’s eccentric character. The songs are densely orchestrated often using rhythmically inventive shout choruses to evoke a 50’s swing feel, while harmonic and melodic shifts pull the work into the present. Ironically, the clarinet solos often begged for the restatement of an intricately arranged melody and René Lussier is underused on guitar, with quick glimpses of his amazing talent often drowned in a sea of reeds. But these are minor quibbles on what is a truly original tribute to an idiosyncratic clarinet pioneer.