Rémi Bolduc – alto saxophone
P.J. Perry – alto saxophone
Phil Dwyer – tenor saxophone
Kirk MacDonald – tenor saxophone
Kelly Jefferson – tenor saxophone
Fraser Hollins – bass
Dave Laing – drums
Label: Art and Soul Productions.
“Saxophonist Rémi Bolduc is clever, in the most intelligent, not diabolical, sense of the word. He’s also diligent. Very diligent, in fact. The fact remains that he is in the process of singling himself out, of distinguishing himself in this way: he is patiently and steadily building what must be called a body of work. In these days of aesthetic confusion, we’d even go so far as to call it a work of jazz.
After having conversed with a great piano master in the person of Kenny Werner. After conversing with saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi, also recognized as an immense teacher at the New England Conservatory of Music. After signing the sweetest tributes to Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond. After paying tribute to the memory of Charlie Parker, Rémi Bolduc now makes his presence felt with the release of Live at The Yardbird Suite, on the Les Productions Art and Soul label.
The first thing that strikes you about this recording, made in Edmonton at a club run by the Edmonton Jazz Society, is its musical architecture. Our man surrounded himself with his loyal and highly effective colleagues Dave Laing on drums and Fraser Hollins on double bass, then invited four other saxophonists from various Canadian cities. Veteran PJ Perry on alto, followed by Phil Dwyer, Kelly Jefferson and the formidable Kirk MacDonald on tenor. Note the absence of piano. In other words, the coefficient of difficulty faced by Bolduc and Dwyer, the latter for two pieces, for everything to do with the arrangements, was confounded with stout.
In the history of jazz, this type of formation is extremely rare. From memory, we remember Odean Pope’s Saxophone Choir and the adventures led by David Murray and Henry Threadgill for the extraordinary Italian label Soul Note/Black Saint. The World Saxophone Quartet? Musical architecture aside, this album is worth its weight in Mayan gold for its program: four recorded pieces were written by Bolduc, one by Perry, one by Dwyer and one by MacDonald. We insist: the professor at McGill’s Schulich School of Music opted for original compositions.
What makes this disc so special? The presence of five saxophonists out of seven performers imbues all the pieces with a sense of twirling. It’s dynamic and sparkling. The respective playing of these gentlemen is synonymous with captivation. Not hypnotic, but captivating, seductive. At times, it’s even a stripper.
It’s probably all down to this: Bolduc has chosen not to play all the pieces with five sax solos every time. Perhaps we should point out that the ensemble playing, the arrangements, reminded us of something, we don’t know what to call it, somewhere between Gil Evans’ middle band and the big band of Thad Jones and Mel Lewis. One thing is certain: Rémi Bolduc is on a hell of a trajectory. Hats off to him! ~ By Serge Trufaut (translated from french)