Two years after launching his recording career with two indie singles as head of a trio, multi-talented Montreal based composer/guitarist and McGill University graduate Mathieu Soucy lets the depth and diversity of his “bebop with a French accent” loose on a grander scale with his eminently engaging, sharply played and rhythmically eclectic debut album Recollecting.
On first glance, the collection’s provocative title may inspire thoughts of a nostalgic look at jazz, or reproducing the traditional vibes of an earlier era. But it actually reflects Soucy’s vision for what be-bop, starting now, will sound like in years to come. As he explains it, the album is a recollective act, speaking the same language as the bop pioneers, celebrating those roots while re-inventing and modernizing the style through dynamic variations.
Since Soucy and his quartet (pianist Gentiane MG, bassist Mike De Masi and drummer Jacob Wutzke) previewed the album with four lead singles, it makes sense to share the dazzling magic of those as the most salient entry points to the full experience – starting with the fanciful, fast paced romp “Lennie’s Changes,” a spirited homage to famed bebop and free jazz pianist Lennie Tristano, who made his mark with innovative playing in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. On the lighthearted quasi-romantic original “Thinker and a Fool,” Soucy takes a charming supporting role behind Juno Award winning vocalist Caity Gyorgy, who also penned its witty lyrics.
Soucy and Gyorgy offer a sophisticated spin on musical history with a super-hipster twist on the Rodgers and Hart classic “Where or When.” The other singles were the whimsical jazz waltz “Turner Days” – truly a showcase for the wild rhythmic invention of De Masi and Wutzke – and the bright, brisk, hard swinger “Mikes Mudra,” which finds Soucy at the peak of his improvisational powers.
Another key track, and in many ways, the emotional heart and soul of the album, is “Barry’s Blues,” a snappy, mid-tempo jam that pays homage to the recently departed Barry Harris. Soucy is a dynamic modern jazz presence we’ll surely be hearing a lot more of in the near future.