The Le Boeuf Brothers, Pascal (piano, compositions) and Remy (alto and tenor saxophones, compositions), first came to critical attention in 2009 when they self-released their debut album "House Without a Door". The identical twins have both managed to carve out solo careers as performers, composers, arrangers, and educators. Pascal leads a Trio and works with vocalist Allan Harris and saxophonist Jeff Coffin while Remy leads a large ensemble known as Assembly of Shadows. He received several GRAMMY nominations for his work with that ensemble and Pascal just (in mid-April) was rewarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Their co-lead group has issued four albums including 2013's "Remixed" and 2016's "Imaginist" with the JACK Quartet.
"Hush" (SoundSpore Records) is the brothers' first release in seven years. Featuring Dayna Stephens (tenor saxophone), Linda May Han Oh (bass), and Christian Euman (drums, cymbals, brushes), the majority of the 19 tracks (only three are over five minutes duration) live up to the recording's title. Euman uses brushes on the majority of the songs––in fact, it's the quiet nature of the music and the emotional richness of the melodies that pulls in the listener. Due to the brevity of many of the cuts, there are few solos yet the poetry in the melody often stands out. Pieces such as "Soot", "Please Scream Inside Your Head", and "State of Conflict" are much more beautiful than their titles suggest. Take the first track listed (listen below); despite the name, the music is gentle with the melody played by a breathy alto saxophone underpinned by gentle piano chords and low bass notes plus just the hint of mallet work. As the piano moves up front (for just one short chorus), there is no pressure or tension, just an exquisite sense of peace.
Watch the video below for "Wedding Planning", certainly the most spirited piece on the recording. Still, Euman is still using brushes but note how it's Pascal's piano and Ms. Oh's wonderfully articulated bass lines that move the music forward. The alto solo is quite joyful and there are moments when the rhythm section gleefully swings!
Really, you need to take the time to listen to this music. There are hints of Debussy and Satie in the melodies as well as folk music and Americana, Sondheim and Bacharach; that's it, just "hints". Melody and interaction are the watchwords of "Hush", music that eschews technical displays and long solos for haiku-like melodies and soft timbre. The Le Boeuf Brothers want you to respond to this music by gathering it in, sharing with friends, and returning to the quiet sounds many times.
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