The young Vincent Gagnon is sure to be a sensation very very soon. Perhaps not as a huge seller, his work's way too intelligent for that, but among musicians, cerebral audiences, and lovers of art. And, good God, he's recruited a monster drummer in Michel Lambert as well. Holy Christ, that guy, when he's of a mind to, can be as muscular as anyone I've heard in years! In Asunción, he drives you through the back wall of the club the gig was recorded at, and you, imperishable stalwart that you are, scramble back in, eager for more. Gagnon's secret, though, is well exposed in that very same track, in an intro as blue as blue can be. Once the number swings into its angular forte, the baseline becomes well hidden…except that his work is always deadly serious beneath the prime era jazz and neo-jazz strains and improv, oft well informed with erudite melancholy, a politique realiste attitude in a sonic wonderland.
Years ago, before I interviewed Tomasz Stanko, I caught his band's gig at The Jazz Bakery in Culver City (SoCal) and Marcin Wasilewski just knocked me off my feet, floored me. The guy was a force of nature diving deeply into vaulting thought processes. Gagnon's much the same in different idiom, a cat who will set Jarrett (Redman era), early Corea, and Bley aficionados on their collective ear. More, Tome III is a CD one must listen to many times, not because it's difficult to access and has to be chiseled away at but because of how much the pianist packs into each song and into his own lines. But, yes, how he explicates is what makes what would otherwise indeed be difficult so damn compelling.
The blue mode comes slinking back in the balladic Ce Qu'll Reste de la Nuit, led off by down-in-the-dumps saxes doubling up (Alain Boies, Michel Cote) to loft high register against low, making the wistfulness all the more bittersweet. Then bassist Guillame Bouchard saunters in to hang-dog the groundwork beautifully, illustrating wherefrom the framework arose. When Gagnon sets his fingers on the keys, you're practically weeping for suddenly recalled losses, whether of love, innocence, or turns not taken. This contrast to his strikingly contrasted architectures elsewhere is notable yet derives from the exact same source, not a note false or contrived, nothing wasted, so, if you're looking for stratospheric piano work, I can't think of a better place than right here in Tome III. And when you're done with that, swing over to Yves Léveilé's Essences des Bois (here). If you can get up out of your chair afterwards, write and tell me how you managed it. I listened to both and then fell asleep, exhausted, blissed-out, a huge smile spread across my mug.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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