Wednesday, 27 October 2010

YOLK Records .... don't miss it #2.

Qüntêt : Vents Dominants (Box Set Yolk 2023)

Here's the next in the great series from Yolk Records special offer series. As I mentioned in my last Yolk post #1 the Yolk record label occasionally does promotions on their CDs which are well worthwhile following up. If you read this post before the end of December 2010 you still have a chance to pick up on the great offers at Yolk's site here. They offer one CD a week - from a list of 11 discs chosen from their catalogue - at 5€. That disc then moves into a new category and will be available at 8€ until the end of the year/offer, not bad considering the quality of the music on offer, and if your interesting in investigating the music from this catalogue. YOLK Records tells me that the offer is good for everyone, which seems to mean worldwide, so no excuses for not checking out the CDs on offer. Anyhow, the last post was on Matthieu Donarier's excellent trio CD Optic Topic, today a short note about the above box set ..... 2 CDs and a DVD from Qüntêt.

As I already mentioned above this is a box set, so what do you get in here? I'll give a short run down of the three items (see) below, but first a quick explanation of what this project seems to have been about. The liner notes explain that the group was asked to participate in Europajazz, which is probably one of these funded projects that we get over here in Europe to promote composers, young groups, amateur music etc. Anyhow, the group wrote music for two brass bands from the area known as Sarthe and if you buy the CDs you can see the whole list of musicians (totaling 80 odd player, it's two brass bands). The compositions were rehearsed and then performed at the Europajazz in Mans 2007, or is it 2005 .... it's not very clear in the liner notes. Consequently all of this has been recorded and placed in a box set along with an album from Qüntêt making up this little package.

CD #1 - Faux Semblant 

Qüntêt is Jean-Louis Pommier : trombone, Christophe Lavergne : drums etc, Patrick Charnois : baritone sax, Alban Darche : alto sax, Médéric Collignon : pocket trumpet, voice, bugle. 

This is the main disc in this package and is an album (as titled above) from the brass quintet Qüntêt. You can immediately understand why these guys were asked to participate in a brass band project as they are of course a small brass band! The music here written either by Jean-Louis Pommier or Alban Darche (*) is very varied in style, the quality of the writing excellent, and the arrangements really make the music hang together, never missing the sound of a traditional electric/acoustic bass. The compositions are in general quite funky, but with modern harmonies, and there are also other styles that appear  throughout such as Polkas and Tangos - Polka and Un Poco Tango, un Poco Paso, mucho Loco. What I enjoy in particular is the way that the compositions are really developed so that when a soloist comes to the fore it's really an extension of the piece, and not the often used ... theme, solo (250 choruses), and then a little theme again. Here we are taken on voyages through various atmospheres, such as in the title piece Faux Semblant and the second track Isasong, both with excellent soloing from Alban Darche (often featured, and deservedly so). There's some excellent 'almost dissonant' writing with simultaneous soloing on an interesting on De Noël A Pâques. It's also nice to hear how they have used the drum/soloist combination to great effect in several pieces Total Schwarz, a lovely gentle ballad featuring trombone, which uses sax/voice to great effect on the theme. And on Prolongement Bulgar the sax or trumpet (Médéric Collignon) battle with the drums to great effect, in the solo section. This is an excellent album with plenty of detail and will surely keep it's interest for many listens. You can hear some of the compositions here on their MySpace which will give you a better idea of the music.

CD #2 - Vents Dominants

On this CD we get the recordings from the Europajazz project featuring the group with the brass bands - as I mentioned above. The CD has six tracks on it, 1 to 3 - feature the Harmonie de Ballon and tracks 4 to 6 - Harmonie du Bailleul Villaines. The music is well written and certainly must of been much fun to play. The brass band doesn't solo that's left, when needed, to the group Qüntêt, but there isn't that much and when it does happen they're short solos (often together). To best appreciate the music you have a DVD of the brass band rehearsing and gradually getting ready for the main performance, which you see a few extracts of. What's nice about the compositions/arrangements is that the composers Pommier, Darche and Collignon, have combined interesting melodies and arrangements that are not too complicated, yet don't sound simplistic, giving the brass band(s) a really quite modern and light sound, which for the number of instruments is quite extraordinary. If you understand french then you'll already get a gist of the music from the titles such as - Suite Arabe, Oh la Villaines, Chemn faisant, etc. I can say that the quality means that there is plenty here to enjoy, even if not quite on the level of the first CD.

The DVD - #3 Harmonies (28 mins).

There is not much to explain here as everything just has to be seen! What you have here is a documentary of the rehearsals, preparation and concert from the Europajazz. There are a few interviews with some of the local musicians and of course with the group Qüntêt. It's nice to see how the brass band reacts to the first contact that they have with the quintets music and to see how they progress with time and rehearsal. You also get a true feeling of achievement when the group/brass band(s) get to play at the final big concert at Europajazz in Nant, as all the preparation comes to fruition and the excitement of playing before a real audience (and a paying one, which is rare for them - the local brass band) is a high point of there musical journey. I thoroughly watching this DVD, and although I don't think I'll be getting out of the box every week, it surely makes an interesting and fun addition to this box set, which I'm sure to watch from time to time.

Here's the first track from Faux Semblant (title track also), hope you enjoy it.

The next (and last) post from this YOLK series, will feature the CD Trickster from the Alban Darche Trio.

(*) = see next posting on YOLK for more on Alban Darche.  

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