Virage

Facile...

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Facile... is Virage's second album and their first to be released on the French avant-garde jazz label Émouvance. All five members of the group contributed at least one composition, but guitarist Alexandre Wimmer is the driving force here, both in terms of number and quality of the pieces. His playing and writing are reminiscent of René Lussier's circa Le Corps de l'Ouvrage: playful, allying precise complex tutti lines and free improv moments channeled through a circus-like way of thinking. His "Danse du Quiet" and "Facile, la Saucisse Farcie" (Easy, the Stuffed Sausage) are strong and inspired pieces calling for virtuosity and good-humored self-derision. Clarinetist Jean-Marc Foltz's "Onkel!" also plays the funny card, his growls and grunts propelling a warped jazz-funk number. A few softer passages, like "Le Passage" (pun not intended), introduce room to breathe and a bit of seriousness. On this count, the album closer "Circulaire 24B-6" is enjoyably deceptive: starting off very introspectively with Wimmer laying down touches of volume-pedal guitar, it builds to a very soft avant-jazz ballad. After eight minutes and a couple seconds of silence comes a Dadaist coda with acoustic guitar and horrible comedy vocals courtesy of Foltz. Throughout the album, he, saxophonist Philippe Leclerc, and trumpeter Serge Haessler follow intertwining lines, playing with almost unisons and creating close and quick cluster-like melodies. The guitar brings a deviant rock touch, while drummer Francesco Rees elegantly adapts to the required style. Fans of Lussier, Jean Derome et les Dangereux Zhoms, Les Projectionnistes, or any avant-garde jazz artist recording for the Quebec label Ambiances Magnétiques will appreciate the zaniness and high entertainment value of Facile.... It is actually easy to like this difficult music.

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