Le Boeuf Brothers + JACK Quartet Collaborate On New Record, ‘imaginist,’
OUT NOW Via New Focus Recordings/Panoramic Recordings
“‘imaginist’ goes further than most such efforts to tackle the idea of ‘chamber-jazz’ without holding back on either side” – The New York Times
“”One of the most interesting aspects of this music, besides the folksy melodies, extroverted minimalist textures and tangled counterpoint, are those moments of freedom found within each arrangement—chaos under control—which lend a bit of breath and imagination to the otherwise refined and chamber-like ambiance, a tribute to both the improvising prowess of the string players and tasteful restraint of the ‘jazz’ players.” – The New York City Jazz Record
“It’s an artful approach that melds the innovative saxophone and piano playing twin brothers with the nine-piece chamber ensemble to create a melding of contemporary classical and jazz music” – NextBop
“Imaginist will hold your interest, the music serves both a dramatic and a compositional purpose.” – The Wire
Regarded as innovative composers of improvised music, the Le Boeuf Brothers are leading the field with groundbreaking new works on their upcoming album in collaboration with JACK Quartet. Based on the “Imaginist” poetry movement, they present an amalgamation of fresh improvisatory approaches with an informed compositional aesthetic branching from literature, jazz, and the “new music” community. Their fourth recording, imaginist, is slated for release October 14th via New Focus Recordings/Panoramic Recordings.
Interpreting the works of pianist Pascal Le Boeuf and saxophonist Remy Le Boeuf, the hybridized 9-piece chamber ensemble includes JACK Quartet, one of New York’s premier string quartets devoted to contemporary classical music, as well as a collection of longtime collaborators including Grammy-nominated tenor saxophonist Ben Wendel (Kneebody), alternating bassists Ben Street (John Scofield, Billy Hart) and Martin Nevin (Albert “Tootie” Heath), and alternating drummers Justin Brown (Ambrose Akinmusire, Thundercat) and Peter Kronreif (Thana Alexa).
The term “imaginist” refers to the early 20th century Russian poetry movement characterized by sequences of arresting images and long chains of metaphors. Imaginist is structured to unfold like a book – complete with a prologue and epilogue. The album includes a piece based on Franz Kafka’s short story, “A Dream” narrated by actor Paul Whitworth, an exquisite corpse series based on the imaginist-esque collaborative poetry game in which a collection of words or images are collectively assembled, and “Alkaline” a hard-driving polyrhythmic mosaic.
Remy explains, “Both words and music have the power to create a captivating emotional landscape or story into which the listener can escape. My interpretation of Kafka’s story ‘A Dream’ is meant to engage the imagination by creating a multi-layered poetic world that can be explored anew with each retelling.”
Regarding improvisation as a compositional technique on this project, pianist Pascal explains, “To fully embrace the unique abilities of JACK Quartet, we became interested in exploring alternative approaches to improvisation. In addition to interacting as four distinct individuals, the members of JACK Quartet can coalesce into a singular voice with an awareness different from any jazz ensemble. This idea led to breaking the ensemble into improvising subsets and became a unifying compositional approach for imaginist. ‘Alkaline’ is an attempt to blur the lines by rapidly shifting between notated and improvised material both separated into sections and overlapping between alternating subsets of the ensemble. Meanwhile, the ‘Prologue’ and ‘Exquisite Corpse’ series are almost completely improvised in two distinct subsets with only a few directions to set them in motion.”
Concerning the role of the improviser on this project, violist John Pickford Richards explains, “We all have different levels of experience, but we inspire and inform each other as we investigate group improvisation.” Remy elaborates,“We often improvise as individuals in the foreground as others play a complementary role, as is traditional in jazz, but there are also many ways we improvise as a collective. For example, Ben Wendel and I might create an improvised background texture of warm saxophone fuzz, or a few of us will hear an ascending figure in the rhythm section and join in to accentuate the gesture. Similarly, JACK might interpret a series of words spoken by the narrator or notated in the music. When improvising as part of a layer or subset, we try to be conscious of the space we occupy in the background or foreground. As a composer, I am limited to the sounds and words in my imagination, but improvising collectively, we have the ability to break down individual boundaries and venture together into the unknown.”
Known for “channeling their influences, environments, and resources into works that reflect their own identities” (All About Jazz), the Le Boeuf Brothers’ past projects include House Without A Door (2009) “an impressively self-assured new album, which reaches for the gleaming cosmopolitanism of our present era” (New York Times); In Praise of Shadows (2011), which “deftly blends elements of electronica with touches of indie rock and sophisticated jazz writing on this genre-defying project” (JazzTimes); and Remixed an “open-minded and masterfully crafted precursor of things to come” (All About Jazz) featuring remix collaborations with David Binney, Knower, Tim Lefebvre, Nickel Cinco and others.
Deemed “superheroes of the new music world” (Boston Globe), the JACK Quartet is “the go-to quartet for contemporary music, tying impeccable musicianship to intellectual ferocity and a take-no-prisoners sense of commitment.” (Washington Post) The Toronto Star went as far to say that, “they are a musical vehicle of choice to the next great composers who walk among us.”
Pascal remarks on the collaboration process with his brother, stating, “Remy and I take on equal roles whenever we collaborate. We both perform and compose music and share the responsibilities involved in directing the ensemble. Beyond my involvement as a composer and pianist, my main contribution is as a producer. Even when I compose, I do so from the perspective of a mixing engineer. Even if I am writing for acoustic instruments in an acoustic environment, many of my ideas are derived from translating compositional devices used in electronic music.” John elaborates on the results of the collaboration, “The musicians involved have a great sense of throwing themselves into the music combining thoughtful subject material with high virtuosity.”
In addition to their work as performer/composers with Le Boeuf Brothers, Remy and Pascal take part in a number of diverse projects. Remy has performed as a sideman with Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Donny McCaslin, Bob Mintzer, and opened for Dirty Projectors. He has also received commissions from the Jerome Foundation and Chamber Music America. Pascal has toured with his trio featuring bassist Linda Oh and Justin Brown. He has played as support for D’Angelo’s Black Messiah tour with Australian pop artist Meg Mac, jazz vocalist Allan Harris and the 15-piece gospel-funk band Jesus On the Mainline. Pascal composed music for the 2008 Emmy Award-winning movie King Lines, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Music Composition at Princeton University as a Naumburg Doctoral Fellow. JACK is focused on new work, leading them to collaborate with composers John Luther Adams, Steve Reich, Caroline Shaw, John Zorn and others.
Imaginist CD Release Tour Dates:
November 4th & 5th – Truckee, CA – Moody’s Bistro
November 6th – Half Moon Bay, CA – Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society
November 7th – Seaside, CA – CSUMB
November 8th – Los Angeles, CA – Blue Whale
November 9th – Fresno, CA – TBA
November 10th – Santa Cruz, CA – Kuumbwa
*November 16th – New York, NY – National Sawdust* (Official NYC CD Release with JACK Quartet)