Took a few years for Houle, Hawkins and Eisen­stadt to come to­gether, but the re­sult was worth the wait

Vancouver Sun - - YOU - François Houle/Alexan­der Hawkins/Har­ris Eisen­stadt You Have Op­tions | Song­lines STU­ART DERDEYN sderdeyn@post­media.com

The bring­ing to­gether of clar­inetist François Houle, pi­anist Alexan­der Hawkins and drum­mer Har­ris Eisen­stadt came about in 2014.

That’s when Ken Pick­er­ing, the late co-founder and artis­tic di­rec­tor of the TD Van­cou­ver In­ter­na­tional Jazz Fes­ti­val, sug­gested Hawkins as a pi­ano player in a new Houle project.

Eisen­stadt, a Brook­lyn-based Cana­dian band­leader/com­poser, was al­ready on deck in the drum­mer’s seat, but Ox­ford-based Hawkins wasn’t known to Houle.

He had, how­ever, played with Eisen­stadt be­fore.

Pick­er­ing was leg­endary in his abil­ity to bring play­ers to­gether in suc­cess­ful com­bi­na­tions.

Houle trusted him on his se­lec­tion and so it came to pass that the trio played two free­wheel­ing shows at the 2014 fes­ti­val. The project re­mained on the back burner for the busy play­ers for a few more years un­til the chance to record ar­rived.

By that point, the mem­bers all had com­po­si­tions to bring to the ses­sions as well as ideas of who else to add in.

Here are five things to know about it:

1. The ti­tle track is awe­some

Even if you didn’t like the mu­sic, Eisen­stadt’s piece that the al­bum is named af­ter has one of the best song ti­tles ever. The com­plete ti­tle is You Have Op­tions, I Have a Lawyer. It’s a beau­ti­ful tune that builds slowly for about half the song be­fore it picks up on a some­what som­bre groove that opens up for Hawkins to lay down some ran­dom pi­ano that just hits per­fectly.

2. Run Riot

While the mu­sic runs the gamut of open spa­ces to in­ter­wo­ven grooves, no other song is quite as wide open and free as Track 3. This Houle com­po­si­tion show­cases the clar­inetist’s abil­ity to soar all over and around his rhythm sec­tion and howl. There is a point at 2:37 when his in­stru­ment sounds like it wants to sur­ren­der; awe­some.

3. Prayer

A solemn piece which may well be my favourite on the record, this six-minute song rides in on a sim­ple rhythm pat­tern all awash in big, full pi­ano chord­ing and then Houle just so­los his heart out over top of it all. The ef­fect is med­i­ta­tive and lovely.

4. Steve Lacy, An­drew Hill, Charles Ives

Among the com­posers whose ma­te­rial turns up on the ses­sion are pieces from jazz greats Lacy and Hill as well as clas­si­cal modernist Ives, who has a clar­inet/ vi­o­lin/pi­ano piece re­worked into an im­pro­vi­sa­tion for th­ese play­ers. Houle of­ten bridges clas­si­cal and jazz worlds, hav­ing stud­ied and per­formed in both.

5. Song­lines

This Van­cou­ver-based la­bel has nearly a three-decade re­la­tion­ship with Houle and put out two fan­tas­tic Eisen­stadt re­leases — Canada Day II (2011) and

Re­cent De­vel­op­ments (2017). If you have an ear for new mu­sic com­ing out in Canada, check out the com­pany cat­a­logue. Next up is a se­ries of record­ings from Seat­tle-based com­poser/pi­anist Wayne Horvitz work­ing with noted Cana­dian string play­ers.


Ethan Ardelli Quar­tet: The Is­land of Form (etha­nardelli.com)

Mul­ti­ple Juno award-win­ning Toronto-based drum­mer Ardelli has put to­gether a crack en­sem­ble for this eight-song record. Alto sax­o­phon­ist Luis Deniz stands out on tracks such as the groovy opener Aqua and the slower, pen­sive Thanks for Some­thing.

There re­ally isn’t a weak track and a num­ber of ideas are ex­plored over its course.

Per­haps one of the most in­ter­est­ing is the highly at­mo­spheric The Ser­pen­tine Path, where pi­anist Chris Don­nelly lifts off re­ver­ber­at­ing slow scales and the rhythm sec­tion of Ardelli and bassist Devon Hen­der­son just per­co­late un­der­neath it all like, well, a snake in mo­tion.

Nov. 11, 8 p.m. at Frankie’s Jazz Club. Tick­ets $16 at coastal­jazz.ca Jeff Gold­blum & the Mil­dred Snitzer Or­ches­tra: The Capi­tol Stu­dios Ses­sions (Decca Records/Uni­ver­sal Mu­sic Canada)

Yes, it’s that Jeff Gold­blum we’re talk­ing about. An ac­com­plished pi­anist, he leads his six-piece en­sem­ble through a set of stan­dards rang­ing from Her­bie Han­cock’s clas­sic Can­taloupe Is­land to Come On-A-My House in a live show that crack­les.

With guests rang­ing from Ha­ley Rein­hart — who does a great My Baby Just Cares — to Imelda May, who nails a few tunes, the set is de­light­fully lively.

Noth­ing here will blow you away, but it lives up to its “good fun” billing. Royal Ca­noe: Wa­ver (Pa­per Bag Records)

This Win­nipeg group has been craft­ing im­mac­u­late pop mu­sic for quite a while, but it moves well be­yond any­thing it has done be­fore with this re­lease. There are more ideas in­cor­po­rated in the open­ing song What’s Left in the River than you’ll find on some en­tire al­bums and they all work.

Big or­ches­tral washes of syn­the­sized sounds, chant­ing mul­ti­part har­monies, psy­che­delic flour­ishes and hooks all drop in. And as soon as it ends, Black Sea rum­bles in on some post-Manch­ester dance groove. Cham­ber mu­sic strings (May 17), mu­tant funk (Ashes, Ashes feat. Nnamdi Og­bon­naya), just plain off-kil­ter R&B (Spin Cy­cle) — Wa­ver is all over the place and that makes for a right proper pad­dle down a river of ideas.

Toronto Tabla En­sem­ble: Bhu­mika (toron­totabla.com)

Tabla mas­ter Ritesh Das has led this clas­si­cal In­dian mu­sic en­sem­ble since 1991.

The group has be­come a main­stay on Canada’s vi­brant tra­di­tional mu­sic scene as well as branching off to col­lab­o­rate with all man­ner of artists.

The seven songs that com­prise the group’s sixth full length record­ing show­case the quar­tet’s fierce play­ing.

The ti­tle is San­skrit for Earth and be­gins with the ti­tle track pay­ing homage to the late Acharya Chitresh Das, Ritesh’s brother. The en­sem­ble ex­plores many of In­dia’s mu­si­cal styles, al­ways with a heavy rhyth­mic depth. Face­off, as fre­netic and im­pact­ing as it is, is not about hockey. Al­though the “en­er­getic meet­ing of the Hin­dus­tani and Car­natic rhyth­mic sys­tems” in the song would sound awe­some as a back­ing track to game high­lights. Just say­ing.

Clar­inetist François Houle teamed up with pi­anist Alexan­der Hawkins and drum­mer Har­ris Eisen­stadt to record You Have Op­tions, and the re­sult is a mix of som­bre grooves and howl­ing so­los that blends per­fectly to­gether.

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