Gabriel Genest – As it is (ENG review)

Gabriel Genest – As it is

Here is an album that we received some time ago, but due to our computer system change, we fell quite behind, which ultimately isn’t a bad thing, as you can now enjoy this album on Bayou Blue Radio, and you will probably want to get this excellent album after reading our review, which can only praise an album of this caliber. Talented composer and saxophonist Gabriel Genest presents his second album, and it’s easy to get carried away in his joyful universe in these dark times, relishing his shimmering compositions and highly effective arrangements. With this album, Genest wanted to bring together two worlds dear to him: jazz improvisation and mindfulness meditation, which he has been practicing diligently for 10 years. “It’s a practice that is very important to me and feeds my creative process,” explains the saxophonist.

The pieces on the album explore various themes central to meditation, including the quest for balance, the perception of time, interdependence, and impermanence. Three tracks on this predominantly instrumental album are musical settings of Zen poems performed by singer Jeanne Laforest (“Puisque les heures nous manquent,” 2022). The album features Alex Le Blanc on double bass, Guillaume Pilote on drums, and Yannick Anctil on piano. This core group is joined by guests who bring strong, original musical personalities to the album: Jeanne Laforest on vocals, Jean-Nicolas Trottier on trombone, and Olivier Salazar.

Like many Canadian musicians, and it is easy to understand why, Gabriel Genest’s work draws as much from classical music as from jazz. The blend of these two musical genres is far from easy, and only the best can offer such successful works where the delicacy of the melodies cannot leave one indifferent. In addition to writing for his own projects, his compositions and arrangements are played and recorded by Le Big Band and the Chamber Jazz Ensemble of the Université de Montréal under the direction of Ron di Lauro, as well as the Chamber Jazz Ensemble of McGill University under the direction of Jean-Nicolas Trottier. Moreover, in 2015, he collaborated on the Forever Gentlemen tour with Garou, Roch Voisine, and Corneille as one of the main arrangers for this project.

Thus, the life of jazz musicians often intersects with that of variety artists; the showbiz side of the recording industry needs the best to give depth to their artists.

This album is full of surprises and offers very different landscapes, so much so that it feels like an adventure. We revel in the synergy between all the participants in this album, making it a rare and perhaps even impressive album if one feels the urge to listen to it multiple times, as there is a message, an aesthetic form that makes it unique. The guest artists also provide beautiful discoveries and give another dimension to this album, which ultimately is like a kaleidoscope with a thousand facets. So, if you don’t yet know this excellent composer and saxophonist, we sincerely hope that by placing it among our “Indispensable” albums, you will want to get it and talk about it with others.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, June 20th 2024

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