By Leonid Auskern
(originally posted on jazzquad.ru in Russian)
Boston-based guitarist Steve Bilodeau, a graduate of McGill University and the New England Conservatory, is a disciple of modern improvised music. His new album, The Sun through the Rain, released just today, is his third offering. His previous effort, Ascent, presented spontaneously improvised duets with violist Benjamin Von Gutzeit. This laid the groundwork for his new work, this time a trio with saxophonist Richard Garcia and drummer Dor Herskovitz.
The album’s title, The Sun through the Rain, is intended as a metaphor. In fact, according to Bilodeau, it represents life itself, which alternates between light and dark episodes, where every failure contains the seed of future triumph, and success serves to remind us of the changeability and capriciousness of fate. Note, however, that the album is named The Sun through the Rain and not Rain Obscuring the Sun, indicating that Bilodeau’s attitude towards life remains optimistic. This is also reflected in the album’s themes and music. The stormy and turbulent soundscape of Storms gives way to a lyrical water painting called The Smell of Rain. Moving on, deep emotions and delicate shades of feeling imbue the trio’s playing. The musicians’ stylistic decisions have nothing to do with who is the leader and who are the sidemen; here every voice counts. And this interaction works through a living, natural exchanges of cues. In some pieces (In the Mist, Free Me?), the impact of collective improvisation is palatable. Other pieces are all about development, propelled by ideas flung between sax and guitar.
Steve Bilodeau alone makes active use of electronics to add depth and crunch to the overall sound of the trio. It is difficult to pin down his style. His range extends from, say, George Benson, to the late British guitarist Derek Bailey. At any given moment, depending on the piece, Steve may choose any point on this broad continuum. If I were forced to narrow down the comparison, I would say his style is reminiscent of Elliott Sharp, recognizing that this definition is mostly symbolic. In any case, Bilodeau is an interesting and deep master of his instrument, and his music will be eagerly enjoyed by fans of free improvisation.
(c) 2017 Steve Bilodeau
9 tracks / 66 minutes
(Steve Bilodeau – g, electronics; Dor Herskovitz – dr, cymbals; Richard Garcia – saxes)
Link courtesy of Lydia Liebman Promotions