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Le Boeuf Brothers + Jack Quartet

Imaginist

NEW FOCUS RECORDINGS PAN06-637813 8396 73 [48:33]

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue

Alkaline

Pretenders

A Dream: Introduction

A Dream: Grave Mound

A Dream: An Artist

A Dream: Here He Lies

A Dream: He Began To Cry

A Dream: At Long Last

Exquisite Corpse I: Foreshadow

Exquisite Corpse II: Flashback

Epilogue

Remy Le Boeuf (alto sax, oboe, bass clarinet): Pascal Le Boeuf (piano): Ben Wendel (tenor sax): Ben Street (bass): Martin Nevin (bass): Justin Brown (drums): Peter Kronreif (drums): Christopher Otto, Ari Streisfeld (violin): John Pickford Richards (viola): Kevin McFarland (cello) Paul Whitworth (narrator)

Recorded April-May 2014, Brooklyn Recording

 

There are no notes to this release though it might have been helpful had there been, given the literary source material and the use throughout of a narrator, Paul Whitworth. The central panel of the album is devoted to A Dream, the Musical Imagination of Franz Kafka which takes the narrative directly from a translation into English of Kafka’s short story, A Dream.

The Le Boeuf Brothers have the support of the intrepid Jack Quartet for this album and the results are hugely idiosyncratic and aurally intriguing. The coiling tenor on the Prologue over deftly chugging support generates textures not wholly unlike bagpipes on a distant glen, the skirling Highland quality becoming more and more avid. But there are also more stark landscapes to be encountered and Alkaline shows the quartet’s propulsive rhythmic function as it spurs on the piano in a jagged exploration: a good mediation between jazz and Classical tropes. Though some passages are lyrical, Pretenders shows how interplay between eager sax and drums can generate sonic sparks and colour.

The suite is cast in six brief movements with narration throughout: the sections are march like, warm, dreamlike in gravity, with surrealist elements, graphic in exploration of insistent dream imagery and even sullenly mocking. It’s a fine piece of composition, revealing and evoking the text but never in a way that diminishes or lampoons it. Its surrealist cum carnivalesque ending opens the door, as it were, to a new adventure yet to be explored.

Exquisite Corpses , in two movements, has oscillating and fascinating textures though its second part is the more rhythmically astringent and exciting. The Jack Quartet bring their classical textures to the last track, the Epilogue, where Remy Le Boeuf’s command of other wind instruments creates even more sonic allure and where an outdoorsy Pastoralism slowly envelops the music.

Genuinely fascinating and in some ways exploratory, this won’t be to all tastes largely because of its spoken texts, I suspect. But for creative minds and enthusiasts for colour, nuance and the nexus between text and music, this has a great deal to offer.

Jonathan Woolf



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