be said that Yves
Léveillé is a jazz composer who loves
melody. His music represents a persuasive alternative to what
many don’t like in jazz: virtuosos whose end-game is to
stuff as many notes as possible into the smallest of intervals,
who would rather play off than play up to the concept, who as
a matter of course short shrift composition and show a disdain
for anything that resembles conventional melody.
Léveillé and his Sextet don’t bring the usual
emphasis to soloing in their live performances. The introductory
themes to his compositions are refreshingly elaborate and complex,
featuring a wholesome dynamic range that allows the music to pause
on a dime or enjoy a moment of silence. The intros are compositions
in their own right, often piloted by the trumpet and sax creatively
harmonized and distinctly voiced.
horn arrangements that serve as the emotive scaffolding for much
of the music, it’s hard to resist the eddies and swells
of sound and their transcendent effects on music that might otherwise
wear a bit thin. Soho (Effendi),
Léveillé’s latest album, features a highly
original use of horns that are sometimes made to piggy back over
each other, with one instrument falling back, the other thrusting
forward, leaving the listener feeling he has just emerged from
a long tribulation -- so much so that when the instruments finally
resolve and get into snyc, it takes the breath away. Léveillé’s
mature handling of dissonance serves that same conceptual end-game
where in the creative clash of notes and their very deliberate
weightings, we are introduced to feelings and states of mind thoroughly
grounded in life experience.
Léveillé’s compositions, like seeds in their
embryonic state, they often begin as the least category of sound
-- a smattering of single notes or a simple chord progression
that hasn’t found its wings. The composer then dedicates
himself to the hard work of teasing out what is there in potentia
and developing themes and subplots that reveal the music’s
depth and plenitude. The very satisfying result can be as varied
as the gamut of experience itself: alternatively joyous, meditative,
energizing, subdued, where the act of creation is validated by
the effort that has been shared with a group of sympathetic musicians.
For those who made the effort to catch the Yves Léveillé
Sextet at The Savoy, sponsored by the Jazz All Year Round Series
as part of the
Montreal Jazz Festival, they were
treated to an evening full of pleasant surprises.
is not at ease on the ivories as let’s say an Oscar Peterson
or Oliver Jones, he’s a generous, dignified band leader
whose accompaniment is infectiously note perfect, who allows his
musicians space enough to reveal their special relationship with
the music. And when he gets together with New Yorker Eri Yamamoto,
his kindred spirit on the piano, sparks fly because they are both
on the same creative and compositional wavelength.
to say, Yves Léveillé and his Sextet make the case
that taking care of business in jazz means taking care of composition,
and the rest will take care of itself. Léveillé’s
much deserved star is rising, and is finally being sighted beyond
the borders of Canada.