Thrilled to join Benoît Delbecq in Paris for the launch of our new release, Ghost Lights, on Songlines. Hélène AZIZA is presenting us at her wonderful home, Galerie Paul Fort in Paris, the perfect venue for this band.
Since 2014, The collective Grdina/Houle/Loewen has forged a new stream of complex compositions that meld together density, ferocious energy and technical virtuosity. The group’s versatility and wide dynamic range has become finely honed, creating an ensemble that can change course dramatically.
In the summer of 2016 the group recorded a set of quartet music with French pianist Benoît Delbecq at Afterlife Studios in Vancouver. The repertoire ranges from open improvisations and atmospheric grooves to highly evocative compositions by Houle and Delbecq. Here is what Coastal Jazz and Blues had to say to publicie their gig at the 2016 Vancouver International Jazz Festival:
“Utterly fascinating” (The Telegraph), French pianist Benoit Delbecq has played with Fred Hersch, Gerry Hemingway, and Evan Parker. The Georgia Straight called his 2012 duo album with Vancouver’s Francois Houle “at once otherworldly and organic.” A fellow master of extended technique and melodic free improv, Houle is “a spectacularly versatile clarinetist who appears to have no limitations stylistically or sonically” (LA Times). Completing this boldly adventurous group are guitarist Gordon Grdina and drummer Kenton Loewen. Regular co-conspirators in the 11-piece avant-Arabic ensemble Haram (which also includes Houle), fiery punk-jazz duo Peregrine Falls, and Dan Mangan + Blacksmith, Grdina and Loewen are cutting edge improvisers. (Coastal Jazz and Blues)
More from Henning Bolte’s review of the trio’s performance at Jazztopad 2016 in Wroclaw, Poland:
“Gordon Grdina (1977) is one of the few fully dual musicians on western electric guitar and eastern acoustic lute, the oud. With great self-assurance he covers a broad range, from rock to traditional Near Eastern music, as well as bop-based and faced jazz but also raucous free improvisation. He is inside as well as outside when he is playing (something he has in common with Marc Ribot). His guitar playing is influenced by our sonorities as his old playing by rock-and jazz-sonorities. At the core of his guitar playing, however, is a firm jazz flow enabling him to merge raucousness with a soaring voice into a climaxing explosion. In that quality he often sounds like a saxophonist. His trio with bassist Tommy Babin and drummer Kenton Loewen is one of the most longstanding on the Vancouver scene, especially his partnership with drummer Kenton Loewen. Loewen is a heavily propulsive drummer, bashing and splitting as counterpart of Grdina. But also the intense and continuous collaboration and partnership with clarinetist François Houle (1961) is a long-standing one. Houle, a genuine clarinet clarinetist, is one of the key figures of the Vancouver scene. It was Steve Lacy who helped him discover the clarinet is his thing and made him decide to focus exclusively on 'his' instrument. As a consequence Houle is striving to extend the sound of his instrument, for instance by using parts of it as sound source or by using electronic emulation or distortion.”
Each member of this collective has garnered high praise from the international press.