Chantale Gagné, p. – The Left Side Of The Moon

Chantale Gagné, p. – The Left Side Of The Moon – self-produced, 63:04 ****:

(Chantale Gagné – piano; Steve Wilson – soprano & alto saxophones, flute; Peter Washington – bass; Lewis Nash – drums)

The French-Canadian jazz pianist Chantale Gagné, is a bit of an enigma in her own country despite her sparkling talent. Perhaps that is the reason she moved to New York City in 2008. In fact, it was Marc Myers in his jazz blog JazzWax, who picked up on Chantale’s talent in a piece he wrote on June 20, 2009, which discussed her first release Silent Strength. With her third release The Left Side Of The Moon, Gagné demonstrates that she has now found the style that she inhabits quite comfortably, and has developed a niche that is assuredly creative.

Chantale is accompanied on this adventure by two of her redoubtable and long-standing cohorts — bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash. Also participating is reed-man Steve Wilson, whose voicing adds another dimension to the proceedings. Most of the compositions on the release are originals by Chantale, and display the breadth of her creativity. Starting with “Mystère” which opens with some funereal chords and devolves into an elliptical excursion, with the bass and drums offering both variation and energy. This is the only trio track on the disc.

The moon gets its chance to shine with the title track “The Left Side Of The Moon” and then “Moon Gazing”. The former is number that inhabits a space that is picture of cerebral conviction driven by Wilson’s pulsing soprano sax, with some Middle Eastern motifs. On the latter, the tune has a more free-flowing feel perhaps due to the 6/8 tempo. Wilson again is on soprano sax and is smartly energetic, while Chantale offers interesting chord voicing in the background until her inquisitive solo.

“Your Blues Is My Blues” is intensely spare, although all the band is in sync and swinging on their solos. Washington offers a bass-line that is melodious and then Nash covers his drum kit ingeniously in the two-chorus solo he delivers. “A la claire fontaine” has been around as a traditional song since about 1604, when New France (now Quebec) became colonized. Lead by Wilson’s soprano sax, the composition retains its original timber, with Chantale’s adept touch still managing to evoke its stylistic history. So as the balance of the disc spins out whether it is the fusion of jazz and tango on “Just A Dream” or the final track with the quirky name “Roach Rag”, there is the sense that Chantale and her friends are in full control of the  creative process.

With a scrupulous engagement to creativity, Chantale Gagné has a communicative perception of music that deserves a wider audience.

TrackList: Mystère; After You; The Left Side Of The Moon; Moon Gazing; In Time; Your Blues Is My Blues; À la claire fontaine; Just A Dream; Up Again; Echoes; Roach Rag

—Pierre Giroux

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