I am immensely honored and thrilled to share an insightful review from the distinguished Scott Yanow, featured in the LA Jazz Scene, for my latest CD, ‘Les Esprits Oubliés.’
Yanow paints an evocative picture of my music, describing me as a “virtuoso with an individual sound of his own and an adventurous style full of passion.” To be recognized for my unique style and the passion I pour into my music is incredibly validating. I take his words as both a compliment and a challenge—to continue pushing the boundaries of my music and to remain true to my individual sound.
Thank you all for your ongoing support. Such words of encouragement bolster my motivation and dedication towards my music. Stay tuned for more updates and upcoming performances! 😊
Alto saxophonist Rémi Bolduc has always been appreciated for his concern for consistency. “De-que-cé de la constance de quoi, par rapport à quoi?” asked old La Palice, troublemaker in chief. With him or in him, it’s up to you, consistency has always been combined with exacting standards. In terms of himself, his art and, of course, his companions.
These days, Bolduc is releasing a new album entitled Les Esprits oubliés. An enormous sign of the high standards he has set himself is that, to bring this latest adventure to fruition, he has called on a crack team of musicians who are the twins of the big guns: Ira Coleman has come all the way from New York with his double bass in his arms, Jim Doxas is on drumsticks, an unknown pianist with an astonishing touch called Marie-Fatima Rudolf and, last but not least, Jerry Bergonzi, who on tenor is the direct object complement of Sax Colossus, a.k.a. Sonny Rollins in civilian life. Nothing less!
Before we go any further, let’s tickle the historical waters a little, so as to highlight what sets this album apart. Quite simply, recordings featuring two saxophonists are as rare as an oil slick on the plateau of Machu Picchu. Well, that’s fine.
But what else, asked Zazie? Dexter Gordon has lent himself to this exercise more frequently than others. First with Teddy Edwards and Wardell Gray, then Johnny Griffin and Booker Ervin. In Griffin’s case, he had founded a successful quintet with the other tenor of tenors, Eddie Lockjaw Davis. That’s about it.
Earlier, we pointed out that Bergonzi was Rollins’ direct heir, for there’s that combination of velocity and tension in him that goes a long way to making these Esprits oubliés such a dense album. Perhaps we should confess that Bergonzi is what we call a “Musician’s Musician”. Many of his colleagues in Boston, where he is a highly regarded teacher, and in New York and Chicago, consider Bergonzi a tenor master. Quite simply.
On double bass, Ira Coleman’s playing is reminiscent of a chameleon. In every genre and style, he proves to be an advocate of fluidity. Perhaps this is because his citizenship is particularly… fluid. Born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and an American father, he grew up in France and Germany before studying in the States.
On drums, Doxas is what he always is: as solid as rock. Not the rock of Marseille’s creeks, but the rock of Gibraltar. Imposing, imperial. As for pianist Marie-Fatima Rudolf, she is the great discovery of this album. Her touch, her fingering, her sense of rhythm, reminded us more than once of the most underrated of modern pianists: Don Pullen.
And as Pullen was the last of the great pianists to accompany THE jazz giant, Charles Mingus of course, we’d like to say how much the piece entitled Game Over reminded us of the albums Change One and Change Two. There’s an intensity to this piece, chiselled more precisely by Bolduc and Bergonzi, that reminded us of that of trumpeter Jack Walrath and saxophonist George Adams when Mingus recorded.
And while we’re on the subject of references, the title track, a ballad entitled Les Esprits oubliés, reminded us in two spoonfuls of notes of the sensibility Art Pepper displayed after his return to the scene in the 1970s. Bolduc’s playing is as poignant as Pepper’s on Today, The Trip or September Song.
What applies to these two pieces applies to all the others. All, we insist, composed by mister Bolduc. Esprit is a damn fine album, with none of the two flaws that distinguish so many of today’s productions. Which are? Conservatory jazz. And one. And two: sycophancy. De-que-cé? Bolduc demands a little of us, and so much the better, because in doing so he’s not paving the way for a race to the bottom. Bras veau et ave!
PS: Les Esprits oubliés is available on iTunes, Spotify and other platforms. ~ by Serge Truffaut (translated from french)
A year after their last concert at Salle Bourgie, the Rémi Bolduc Jazz Ensemble brought us their own arrangements of compositions by the famous Montreal pianist Oscar Peterson.
Far from a simple imitation, Rémi Bolduc and his saxophone, accompanied this time by Fraser Hollins on double bass, Dave Laing on drums and guest pianist Taurey Butler, brought to life for the third time the music of a great man we no longer have the chance to hear play.
A transformation, or perhaps more accurately, a liberation: tonight, Rémi Bolduc took up neither the score of a saxophonist (Charlie Parker), nor that of an instrument accompanied by a saxophone (Dave Brubeck), but that of a pianist without the shadow of a brass sound in the initial interpretations.
Indeed, Oscar Peterson, who began his musical apprenticeship on the trumpet, soon devoted his life and work to the piano. This pianist and composer, particularly appreciated for his management of rhythm, as well as for the speed and accuracy of his playing, is today defined by some as “the best jazz pianist in the world”. In any case, he has greatly contributed to the renown of Canadian jazz, well beyond the continent.
Rémi Bolduc and his ensemble more than lived up to the critics’ description of the pianist’s playing.
Happy to be playing in this magnificent hall, the audience had the chance to discover, in addition to their musical interpretation, the sincerity of the smiles on the musicians’ lips, so beautifully accompanied by the pleasure and concentration that mingled in each of their glances. The four musicians performed, with great complicity and for the first time in public, a dozen pieces created by Peterson. The latter, mainly from the Canadian Suite album, including Place Saint Henri and Laurentide Waltz, gave a discreet nod to Oscar Peterson’s past, as well as to Bolduc’s links with this great jazzman, and to Montreal’s pride in having seen him born in its neighborhoods.
The presence of the saxophone, which remains a traditional jazz instrument, has taken nothing away from the pianist’s original compositions. Quite the contrary, in fact! Rémi Bolduc’s arrangements have necessarily freed themselves even more from the original score thanks to this constraint. In this way, he was able to stand on Oscar Peterson’s shoulders without fear of imitation or flat interpretation, making his world his own and transforming it with his playing and his instrument.
The quartet, led by the saxophonist, also gave the impression of feeling increasingly free as the concert progressed. The musicians seemed to give themselves over more and more entirely to their own interpretation.
The audience, who also seemed to enter more and more into the music as the concert progressed, welcomed the quartet very warmly. In fact, they seemed to be won over even before the four musicians took to the stage. The hall and its occupants shared their emotions, creating a warm atmosphere fuelled by repeated applause, particularly for Rémi Bolduc’s playing.
The traditional encore allowed this jazz ensemble to end on a fittingly cheerful note, with one of the Montreal pianist’s signature melodies. Rémi Bolduc then offered to chat with his audience outside the concert hall, with much appreciated simplicity and humility.
As a follow-up to this tribute to Oscar Peterson, we’d love to see the quartet play on the very site of his childhood, in the streets of Saint-Henri. It’s a gesture to a neighborhood that wasn’t fortunate enough to follow in the footsteps of the great pianist who grew up there, and a tribute to the father of the family. Indeed, it’s worth remembering that Oscar Peterson’s father played a major role in his son’s career, as well as that of each of his children. This family man, a railroad worker, encouraged his children to concentrate passionately and entirely on music, so that they would each have a chance to escape the misery of their social conditions. Music as a way out of the poverty in which they were trapped: a fine lesson that would be well worth spreading to encourage young people, as well as ourselves, in creation as an escape from fatality.
While we wait for our little hopes to come true, Rémi Bolduc hinted at the possibility of a recording project of his arrangements, which could give you all the opportunity to discover the quartet’s interpretation, without going through my words! _ The Art & Opera Review, by Raphaelle Occhietti, Octobre 18, 2015
Alto saxophonist Remi Bolduc, a professional musician since the age of fifteen, is rather well known in his native Canada, where he has worked with bandleader Vic Vogel, pianists Oliver Jones and Lorraine Desmarais, the late drummer Bernard Primeau and guitarist René Lussier. He has also played gigs with Americans such as bassist Marc Johnson, guitarist Ben Monder and pianist Andy Milne. Bolduc spent time in America studying with fellow alto player Steve Coleman and later with pianist Kenny Werner, the latter courtesy of a 2000 grant, which resulted in his 2003 recording for Justin Time (Tchat) with Werner as his pianist. In addition, Bolduc has taught jazz in several Canadian universities. His third CD for Effendi as a leader includes his regular quartet with pianist John Roney, bassist Fraser Hollins and drummer David Laing. Veteran tenor saxophonist and fellow jazz educator Jerry Bergonzi is a guest, providing an excellent foil.
Bolduc composed and arranged eight of the ten songs, all of which take unexpected routes, keeping the listener on edge. The leader’s tense “Mr. Coleman” (a salute to Bolduc’s former teacher) is a constantly shape-shifting post-bop vehicle while “Camille Gentilele” is a lush ballad with parts that sound as if derived from a classical theme. “In Love Like Someone” is an amazing reworking of the changes to the standard “Like Someone in Love,” with the two saxophonists negotiating its demanding lines without a slip. Bergonzi scored the two standards heard in this session. “I Remember You” starts in a conventional bop setting but progresses into an intricate, fiery duo workout by the two saxophonists. The miniature setting of “Just Friends” is even more complex, a delightful duet sans rhythm section. ~ All About Jazz, By Ken Dryden,
Source material can, on the surface, come from the strangest of places. In addition to seemingly endless reworkings of the Great American Songbook, contemporary jazzers are now looking farther afield, with artists like the Bad Plus bringing an improvisational approach to material by groups like Blondie and Black Sabbath. Brad Mehldau has been mining the repertoire of Radiohead and Nick Drake, and Rachel Z has re-imagined songs by groups including Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden.
So when Rémi Bolduc, a French Canadian alto saxophonist who has been garnering some significant attention in Canada over the past few years, went in search of inspiration for a new project, he found himself remembering all the children’s television shows he not only watched as a child, but listened to as well—all with such memorable theme songs that they remain with him to this day. The result, Cote D’écoute, may strike a very specific chord with Quebecois listeners who are old enough to remember the shows themselves, but will ultimately appeal to anyone who remembers their own childhood shows. Bolduc and his trio, featuring cellist Sheila Hannigan and pianist John Roney, elevate the material—which almost qualifies as folk songs of his childhood—into the realm of standards. One may not specifically recognize all the material, but it all feels somehow familiar and comforting.
A departure from Bolduc’s normal work as a more outward-reaching free thinker, Cote D’écoute is his most eminently accessible recording to date. The lineup suggests a certain chamber music vibe, and some arrangements unquestionably fit that definition. “Terre Humaine, with its counterpoint between the alto/piano unison line and Harrington’s cello, as well as its more introspective nature, feels as inspired by classical composition as it does the jazz tradition. On the other hand, “Grujot et Délicat, with its sometimes implicit/sometimes explicit swing, clearly comes from a jazz space. Roney, heard in Ottawa to great effect as part of the Magic of Miles Davis performance in February of ’05, demonstrates the kind of stylistic breadth here—and on all pieces, for that matter—that one wonders when his name will emerge on the larger radar of the Canadian jazz scene.
While the program is approachable for the most part, there are moments where Bolduc’s more extreme qualities are in evidence. “Sol et Gobelet, with tongue firmly in cheek for the theme, breaks down into periods of absurd chaos and free exchange. Bolduc’s a capella rendition of “Le Temps d’une Paix highlights his ability to begin with a simple theme and extend it into a four-minute alto tour-de-force. Hannigan ranges from almost Baroque counterpoint to walking bass lines, showing that a classically-trained cellist can indeed swing.
Cote D’écoute is already a popular success in Quebec, but its charms should not be restricted to those who are familiar with Bolduc’s sources. Clever, compelling, at times humorous, at other times poignant, Cote D’écoute should strike a similar chord in the child in all of us. ~ All About Jazz, By John Kelman,