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Off the Record

Paul Serralheiro, La Scena Musicale, no 11:5, 1 février 2006

The wit and poetry of the late great clarinetist Pee Wee Russell are given a post-modern treatment by Montréal clarinetist Lepage and a host of other practitioners of the instrument. A total of seven clarinetists show up for this gig, along with a stellar rhythm section of René Lussier on guitar, Normand Guilbeault on bass and Pierre Tanguay on drums. It’s not surprising that it takes this much ebony to pay homage to Russell’s legacy. Lepage and company lead off with Pee Wee’s Blues, a Russell original, then explore various readings, variations in the blues form on the Russell style, winding up after the multi-referential romp with another Russell piece, Muskogee Blues. Through the journey, essentially consisting of studies in style, there are many delightful moments. Lussier’s twangy resonator-acoustic guitar blends right in, with its quirky evocations of cartoonish humour. In the spirit of play is a heartfelt tribute, making this a must for Pee Wee Russell fans and lovers of the clarinet in general.

In the spirit of play is a heartfelt tribute, making this a must for Pee Wee Russell fans and lovers of the clarinet in general.

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