May 17 2013
Pascal Le Boeuf has just released a pair of interesting new recordings that, individually, hold their own each as solid performances, but it’s how they work as points of comparison, as poles of complementary function and point of view that provides the real intrigue.
Pascal’s Triangle is a nice modern piano trio recording. With Linda Oh on bass and Justin Brown on drums, pianist Le Boeuf sets a course on piano that relishes skipping over choppy waves at high speed while kicking out some decent melodies along the way.
Some tracks, like album opener “Home In Strange Places,” start out with a light touch before developing into something fuller and stronger, yet still recognizable as the seed from whence the song blossomed. And then there are tracks like “Variations On a Mood,” which begin at a brisk pace which catapults the song into pounding rhythmic interludes.
Not unlike the trio projects of Brad Mehldau, Le Boeuf’s trio maintains a snappy, unhurried tempo, and melodic development that sounds effortlessly streamlined, fluid. Le Boeuf’s trio sets an anchor in the middle of modern Jazz waters. It’s the kind of thing that sends out ripples to draw others closer.
It’s also vastly different from the mutable presence of his other new release, Remixed.
With the general premise of giving jazz musicians an opportunity to let loose their inner-DJ, Pascal and his brother Remy (the Le Boeuf Brothers) invited David Binney, Tim Lefebvre, Jochen Rueckert, Kissy Girls, Lucky Luke & Armand Hirsch into the studio to go about the challenge of remixing tracks from the Le Boeuf Brothers 2011 release In Praise of Shadows… itself an intriguing example of how jazz musicians are using technology and the influence of modern music as part of their own repertoire.
It’s nowhere even remotely near the center of Jazz waters. And the ripples it sends out go off into new territories, never to return, and in some cases, attracts followers along the way.
The thing of it is, while the electric Remixed is, at most, an ethereal companion to the solid rock foundation of Pascal’s Triangle‘s piano trio, it’s a logical next step from In Praise of Shadows. The blips and buzzes of the remixed “Red Velvet” may differentiate it from the original, but they still share the same essential bright notes and warm enthusiasm. The remixed version of “For Every Kiss” makes more of a home for the crooner, and the keyboards dig in a bit deeper, but both versions possess the dramatic builds and crashes that reflect the heart of the song. On the remix, “Fire Dancing” lays on the drum & bass far thicker than the original, but in both versions, it’s still all about the beat… a quality further accentuated on the original version by the spry tenor sax dancing circles around the rhythm.
Or how about “Calgary Clouds,”
Which, when remixed, becomes a boiling cauldron of percussion and effects…
And though In Praise of Shadows is a Jazz album, it was sticking its beak into waters that featured the harmonic layering of a Radiohead, the pop-ambient electronica of Air, the thumping beats of drum ‘n bass outfits, the shimmering warped vocals of trip-hop, the blips, buzzes, and melodic glides of any number of straight-up electronica acts, and the mixing and production tricks of all those arenas. Remixed is just a fuller realization of those experiments presented on In Praise of Shadows. It’s almost natural.
It’s also a world away from Pascal’s Triangle.
But a world is such a small measure of expanse in the mind of an artist. Universes, often, aren’t enough to encapsulate all the creative thoughts bouncing around inside their heads. It’s a big reason why I enjoy how Remixed behaves as an interesting part of the whole picture… more than I even enjoy it simply as a music recording. There’s the medium, and then there’s the vision which inspired it. It’s not required to enjoy both elements of a creative piece, but it sure does make it a lot more fun and engaging. That’s what we have here.
Both Pascal’s Triangle & Remixed released on the Nineteen-Eight Records label.
Jazz from NYC.
Available to stream (and purchase) at the artist’s Bandcamp page.