Francois Bourassa Quartet Number 9

Bourassa

 

Featuring Francois Bourassa (piano, compositions), André Leroux(saxophones), Guy Boisvert (bass) & Greg Ritchie (drums)

Award-winning, critically-acclaimed pianist/composer Francois Bourassa’s new album – Number 9, his ninth album of all original music, features his quartet of longtime collaborators: saxophonist/clarinetist/flutist André Leroux, bassist Guy Boisvert and drummer Greg Ritchie.

This elite squad of musicians, and their singular telepathy and esprit de corps, was first revealed to the world on their album, Indefinite Time (2002). Since, the Francois Bourassa Quartet has staked a claim as one of the most compelling groups active on the global jazz/improvised music scene.

The compositions crafted by the Montreal-born Bourassa, empower the members of his Quartet to express themselves to the fullest extent on this collective journey.

Together they explore pure lyricism, open sonic landscapes, swing, free improvisation, and more – all played with empathy, and big ears! The members of this ensemble are so immersed in each other’s instincts and mannerisms that they offer the listener a plethora of moods, settings and styles that are indispensable elements of  Number 9.

More on the music on Number 9 with Francois Bourassa (excerpted in part from the album’s liner notes by Howard Mandel): Given the album’s title, we of a certain age must wonder if it’s a nod to another four-man band that celebrated variety while maintaining its singular identity. Does Number 9 refer to the haunting musique concrete collage on the Beatles’ White Album?

The songs on Number 9 speak for themselves: the quartet covers a lot of ground from a complex of perspectives, new details unveiled with each turn of the ear.

The opening track’s jaunty yet oblique line (try humming it!), as improbable yet inevitable as Eric Dolphy’s angular melodies, or Ornette Coleman’s, achieves its affect purposefully, linking two 20th-21st Century innovators, never mind the gulfs between their worlds or styles.

They may even conflict – the parts of Carla and Karlheinz fit together unpredictably yet organically.  Bourassa’s deft, initially dry touch may imply that of Paul Bley (another Montreal native), but he claims many other piano modernists, bluesmen and prog rockers, too, as inspirations, and clearly is steeped in Western European classicism.

Consequently, the composer-pianist’s position is not bound or limited, and this quartet achieves something beyond genre: collaborate as only its four members can. No justification necessary for such an approach – we listen, accept, enjoy and are deepened.

The pleasures provided by this group make it easy. Applying himself to Bourassa’s themes and concepts, Leroux wields his tenor saxophone masterfully; he’s especially sensitive to attack and dynamics, floating the theme of 5 and Less gently, but builds to blasting on the darkly epic Frozen.

On “C & K,” Leroux’s flute has the urgency of a jungle bird, and he uses the clarinet on 11 Beigne as an instrument of deliberation. He isn’t troubled by the odd time signatures, nor need you be, because Boisvert phrases firmly and gracefully on his bass, and in flowing concert with drummer Ritchie, who never lets on there’s anything to count, merely rhythms to discern and enhance.

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