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31 mars 2008
Par Kate Molleson in The Gazette (Québec), 31 mars 2008


«Quartetski is made up of four seriously creative improvisers […] whose experimenting is as considerate as it is far-flung.»

At the height of the First World War, as the Russian Revolution loomed and Europe’s musical traditions erupted, Sergei Prokofiev wrote a set of 20 miniature piano pieces called Visions fugitives. Each is only about a minute long; they’re tiny, fleeting glimpses of texture and character. Some are dark, some are dulcet, many have a touch of the burlesque.

Local jazz-improv group Quartetski does Prokofiev use these miniatures to conjure visions of their own. They play Prokofiev’s music (as orchestrated by bassist Pierre-Yves Martel) then, in a vocabulary that’s dreamy and fearless and tangibly inspired by Prokofiev, they improvise.

This is a daring and unusual project — daring because it transcends genre boundaries, unusual because it does so without becoming tacky. Quartetski is made up of four seriously creative improvisers (Martel on bass, Gordon Allen, trumpet, Philippe Lauzier, sax/bass clarinet, and Isaiah Ceccarelli, drums) whose experimenting is as considerate as it is far-flung.

And the arrangements themselves are artfully orchestrated, which isn’t surprising given Martel’s mongrel pedigree: as well as being a leader of Montréal’s musique actuelle scene, he plays viola de gamba with the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal and Constantinople, and double bass with several orchestras. Such successful genre-hopping is feasible because he’s technically versatile, and, moreover, an extremely intelligent musician. Diversity is a powerful resource.

Quartetski played at Upstairs on Friday and Saturday, which, considering the cerebral and unamplified nature of the music, was an admirable piece of programming by the jazz bar.

Both nights finished with work from Quartetski’s impending album of Duke Ellington tunes — again, beautifully orchestrated and explored. Despite the differences between Prokofiev and Ellington, there’s a sound that’s unmistakably Martel’s. Look out for that CD release when it comes — something along the lines of ‘Quartetski does Ellington,’ I believe…

blogue@press-3513 press@3513
30 mars 2008

Improvising Montréal Series accueillera Ben Grossman, Gordon M Allen et Pierre-Yves Martel le jeudi 3 avril 2008, à la Casa del Popolo à Montréal.

blogue@nouv-8924 nouv@8924
29 mars 2008

Le prochain Mercredimusics accueillera, le 2 avril 2008, Rémy Bélanger de Beauport, Gaëlle Huard, Kathy Kennedy et Mark Zurawinski à la Casa Obscura, à Montréal.

blogue@nouv-8923 nouv@8923
29 mars 2008
Par Philippe Meilleur in Le Journal de Montréal (Québec), 29 mars 2008

Coupure de presse

blogue@press-10550 press@10550
29 mars 2008
Par Doug Fischer in Ottawa Citizen (Canada), 29 mars 2008


«The circus-like Ridicolosamente, for instance, gets a dazzling treatment featuring vibrant solos…»

In the late ’90s, I visited a cramped living room in Vanier to watch three raw young musicians who called themselves Blue Room roar through an afternoon of loud post-bebop jazz. The trio didn’t amount to much more than a garage band, jazz-style, but it was evident bassist Pierre-Yves Martel, drummer Mike Essoudry and saxophonist Petr Cancura were going places.

A decade later, they have arrived — separately — with a trio of debut albums: Martel as the force behind Quartetski’s free-jazz take on Sergei Prokofiev, Essoudry in an improvisational duo with saxophonist Linsey Wellman, and Cancura as frontman on a world-music-tinged CD coming later in the year.

Of the two albums already available, Quartetski’s is more ambitious and more satisfying. But the group is working with a bigger palette — four musicians versus two — and a larger canvas: 18 piano sketches by Prokofiev versus a dozen off-the-cuff tunes.

Martel took Prokofiev’s pieces Visions Fugitives, Op. 22, written amid the chaos of the Russian Revolution — and arranged them so his Montréal-based quartet could use them as springboards (“vehicles, bridges and platforms” in his words) to improvisation.

Given the upheaval during which the music was written, it’s hardly surprising many of the compositions are brooding and contemplative. Although the group sometimes struggles under the weight, it also frequently rises to the occasion with surprising harmonic textures and deft interplay.

But Martel’s idea works best when the musicians are dealing with Prokofiev’s more playful compositions. The circus-like Ridicolosamente, for instance, gets a dazzling treatment featuring vibrant solos from trumpeter Gordon Allen and saxophonist Philippe Lauzier that roll over the top of Martel’s beefy bass and Isaiah Ceccarelli’s rollicking drums. The inaptly titled Allegretto tranquillo, raucous rather than calm, also gets high marks.

On the other hand, the disc from Essoudry and Wellman, both living in Ottawa, succeeds most often when the music is more tranquil. The sax-drums combination is one of the most difficult in jazz to pull off, even in the hands of technical masters like John Coltrane and Rashied Ali. Essoudry and Wellman, of course, are not in that league, and their efforts at hard-charging improvisation are not nearly as effective as their meditative pieces, especially the delicate Jeweled Garden.

blogue@press-3514 press@3514
28 mars 2008

Le 2 avril 2008, Jason Sharp, Joshua Zubot et Nicolas Caloia seront au resto-bar Le Cagibi dans le cadre de la série dédiée aux musiques créatives Mardi spaghetti.

blogue@nouv-8921 nouv@8921