Innovation? Thinking outside the box? Daring to be different? Perhaps a
bit of all three is appropriate for the Pierre Labbe Sextet’s
Tromper Eustache (Effendi Records, 2015).
The ensemble consists of Labbe, tenor sax and flute; Francisco Lozano,
tenor sax and bass clarinet; Francois Bourassa, piano; Bernard Falaise,
electric guitar; Clinton Ryder, doublebass; and Pierre Tanguay, drums.
“Inouie Ouie,” or “Unheard Hearing,” opens the set. It has a
slow-to-moderate groove with a haunting theme. The saxophones overlap
one another, with one providing a base or foundation while the other
builds around it. As the music gradually amplifies, each goes his own
way while keeping with the cohesion of the group. Piano, bass and drums
are constant in the background, though each makes subtle variations. The
song doesn’t have a discernible melody so much as it’s an example of
free-form music with just enough structure to maintain a sense of shared
“Tamsara” is a mellow piece, with hints of Middle Eastern phrasing and
African rhythms. The sounds may conjure images of a folk dance, or
perhaps a safari on the plains. A change signals unfolding drama,
perhaps new dancers joining the ritual or a new challenge on the game
trail. This is interpreted through some frantic playing of piano and
bass. The moment passes, and the song reverts to the primary theme.
A finalist for the 2010 Opus prize awarded by the Quebec Musical Council
for its recording Manivelle, the Pierre Labbe sextet is known
to transcend the boundaries of jazz. Labbe’s discography includes 10
releases. He has been commissioned to compose for a variety of ensembles