Given the immeasurable role that improvisation has played in the live show of Moncton jazz-fusion group Les Paiens, it should be little surprise that the group’s latest studio offering, Carte Noire, the release of which is being celebrated at Moncton’s Aberdeen Cultural Centre tonight, was derived from improvisation sessions.
While this isn’t the first time Les Paiens let their creative muse guide them in the process of writing new material – a good portion of their previous works were largely derived in the same fashion – the manner in which they arrived at the end result was new to the group.
“In 2013, when we were in the process of writing material for Carte Blanche, we recorded a few hours of nothing but improvisations,” drummer Jean Surette says. “We revisited the content that hadn’t maade the final cut of our previous record and discovered there was some great content and ideas to be found.”
It was at this point that Producer Andy Creegan entered the picture, having previously worked with the group on Carte Blanche.
“At the outset of hearing the material, I was meticulous about taking notes about what I heard happening and ultimately what caught my ear,” Creegan says. “Listening to those improv sessions, it was evident the band had some fantastic sketches contained within them. My job was to mine that gold and get rid of the stuff that I didn’t feel was necessary until I felt we had the skeletons of something we could dress up.”
Through a collaborative effort with the group, Creegan pieced together snippets of those improvisations until he had a collection of fully-realized songs on his hands.
Surette says that with the exception of a handful of post-production overdubs, including an extended flute solo in the track “Le Coeur qui bat,” Creegan’s work ultimately became the band’s newest record.
Understandably, with almost three years lapsing between the original recordings of the sessions that spawned their newest release and revisiting the material in a whole new context, Surette admits the band had its work cut out for them in preparing for their performance tonight.
“Once we arrived at a finished product in terms of the record, we basically had to go back and learn the material in order to present it live,” he says. “There were times I was curious to see if we would be able to pull it off, given the fact there were some strange, unconventional things happening in those improv sessions.”
Les Paiens’ live performance kicks off at 10 p.m. tonight. Starting at 9, Carte Noire producer Andy Creegan will be sharing insight into the unique manner which the group’s latest record came together.
What: Les Paiens album launch for Carte Noire
When: Saturday Nov. 5, 9 p.m.
Where: Aberdeen Cultural Centre, 140 Botsford St., Moncton