Country : Canada (Quebec) Label : Odd Sound Genres and styles : Contemporary Jazz Year : 2023

Philippe Côté / François Bourassa – Confluence

· by Frédéric Cardin

The life of a music journalist is made up of great listening and stimulating encounters. It is the envy of many, and rightly so. But you can’t imagine the feeling of guilt that can assail your humble servant when he’s so overwhelmed by life in general that he neglects to list some magnificent and indispensable albums, for lack of time and opportunity to get them right in his ears. That’s what happened at the end of 2023. Some real musical gems sat on my pile without getting the attention they were due. I’m in the process of correcting that (if you’re interested in indie chamber rock, check out my review of Sick Boss, an excellent band from Vancouver) and today I’ve come across Confluence, a great contemporary jazz/scholarly music opus by François Bourassa on piano and Philippe Côté on saxophones (and the occasional piano).

Confluence is a hybrid between improvisation and contemporary writing. It’s a world away from a traditional jazz piano-sax duo. The refined discourse of the two performer-composers (they exchange scores) focuses on textures and colours. The result is a dance between the convergence and disparity of the two instruments, bubbling with life and impressionistic suggestions. Add in the occasional ‘preparation’ of the piano (as in John Cage), attention to the most subtle and refined sonic details, modern harmonies that prefer astonishing poetry to aggressive dissonance, and you have a true masterpiece.

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