Chantale Gagne | The Left Side of the Moon

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The Left Side of the Moon

by Chantale Gagne

“There is a spiritual strength and feeling of humanity within the compositions and playing of Chantale Gagné, and The Left Side Of The Moon is further confirmation of this Quebec’s impressive talent” - Renee Rosnes
Genre: Jazz: Jazz quartet
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Mystère
5:50 $0.99
2. After You
5:33 $0.99
3. The Left Side of the Moon
6:41 $0.99
4. Moon Gazing
6:26 $0.99
5. In Time
5:20 $0.99
6. Your Blues Is My Blues
4:33 $0.99
7. A La Claire Fontaine
5:44 $0.99
8. Just a Dream
5:51 $0.99
9. Up Again
6:57 $0.99
10. Echoes
8:41 $0.99
11. Roach Rag
1:34 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
There is a spiritual strength and feeling of humanity within the compositions and playing of Chantale Gagne, and The Left Side Of The Moon is further confirmation of this Quebec native’s impressive talent. This is Ms. Gagne’s third release, following Silent Strength (2008) and Wisdom Of The Water (2010), and as on her previous recordings, the commanding rhythm team of bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash are featured. The quartet is rounded out with saxophone virtuoso Steve Wilson, whom the pianist met at the New York City jazz club, Small’s, back in 2009. As Steve commented during the recording session, “Her music appeals to both the head and the heart,” and the end result is very rewarding for the listener.

I hear an expanse in Chantale’s writing that conjures up panoramic visions of nature. I asked her how she felt about that, and she replied, “I come from the countryside, from a very beautiful and green province. I also come from a warm, close-knit family, and all of us helped to take care of the family property. I was young when I learned to appreciate and respect nature, and I believe that this feeling definitely comes through in my music – although I’m not sure how - it just does.”

On the theatrical opener, Mystére, Chantale’s gift of lyricism is immediately palpable. The song begins with somber chords and develops into an extended melody that takes flight, guided by the momentum of the bass and drums. This is the sole trio performance of the album, and everyone shines in the spotlight.

Following a Bach inspired contrapuntal introduction, After You breaks into a bright tempo, inspiring a fiery, swinging alto solo from Steve, and rhythmic interplay between the piano and drums. Chantale says, “Everything Lewis plays has purpose and a beautiful melodic quality. I feel that he truly understands my music, and his instincts always take it to the highest level possible.”

The title track, The Left Side of the Moon, is a mini-suite inspired by the composer’s acceptance of the mystery of life. Chantale explains, “No one knows what the future holds. Oftentimes, we don't know why certain things happen but I believe we have to trust that they happen for a reason, and that we are here on earth to learn something from these experiences.” As in daily life, the piece shifts through many moods and tempos, and the momentum really takes hold during Steve Wilson’s soaring soprano solo over a percussive vamp.

The creative spark for the next track came from Nash, who suggested that Chantale compose a piece with a 6/8 feel. The result is Moon Gazing: a plaintive, flowing melody with a natural arc. Both Steve and Chantale weave through the changes with style, supported and inspired by Peter and Lewis.

In Time, is a warm ballad that expresses Chantale’s feeling that “everything falls into place when it’s time.” The sweet tone of the alto complements the melody perfectly, and the piano solo softly unfolds like the blossoming of a rose. We also hear an extended bass solo by Washington, whose playing is impeccable throughout the recording. “Peter creates ingenious lines that complete my musical ideas, and are just what I want to hear from a bass player,” says Chantale.

Your Blues Is My Blues jumps off with an angular, unison line and everyone in the quartet is in sync and all the soloists are swinging. “Chantale writes in a way that is very open, and her music can be interpreted a lot of different ways, says Lewis. “When I play her compositions, I really feel free to be myself.” His fills sparkle between the phrases and during the two-chorus drum solo, he plays so melodically that the form has an almost visual quality.

A La Claire Fontaine translates to By The Clear Fountain: a traditional children’s song about lost love that Chantale has heard since she was a baby. Her lovely reharmonization for the soprano sax and piano alone presents an excellent canvas for improvisation. Of Wilson, Chantale comments, “His attentiveness, generosity, open mindedness and sincerity as a person, are all qualities that come through in his playing.” I would have to agree with that. Steve has one of the most striking soprano sounds in the world, and with Chantale’s nuanced touch, A La Claire Fontaine is a most appealing addition to this otherwise all-original set.

Next, Just A Dream blends the world of jazz and tango, and befitting the mood is a voluptuous melody. Throughout, the quartet simmers with romance. There’s also a restraint, perhaps suggesting a dream of unrequited love.

Chantale was reflecting on the subject matter of “recovering and moving on,” when she composed the intimate waltz, Up Again. Along with a graceful piano solo and well-wrought bass playing, it also features some elegant flute improvisation from Wilson, who says, “I’ve known Chantale for a few years now, and have witnessed how her sound as a composer and pianist has evolved into a very personal and unique soundscape.”

The contemplative Echoes, was inspired by a friend’s untimely passing in 2012. The piano and soprano set the stage alone, and as the piece develops, petite, repetitive cells are woven into the texture, conveying an essence of minimalism. Chantale explains that when she performs this composition, she envisions that the music somehow connects with the spirits of loved ones out in the cosmos.

Closing out the album is the quirky, fleeting, Roach Rag. Chantale compared the unpredictability of a visit from a roach to the randomness of life. Nothing moves in straight lines.

If it is true that fate exists, then it was certainly meant to be that these four musicians went into the studio on that early spring day to record this fine album. Peter Washington pronounced, “Chantale’s writing is so beautiful, that every time I play her music, I come away feeling better than I did before the session.” After listening to this exquisitely recorded disc, I concur and hope that you will too.

Renee Rosnes
August 2014



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