This Friday night at Moncton’s Tide & Boar Gastropub, Moncton-based jazz-fusion group Les Paiens will be offering patrons a healthy dose of holiday cheer as well as a host of selections from the group’s vast catalogue of music, including its latest studio effort, Carte Noire.
Released earlier this fall, the group’s newest album was conceived in an atypical manner. In 2013, when the group was writing material for its prior studio effort, Carte Blanche, the band recorded several hours of improvisational sessions.
Upon revisiting those improvisational recordings, Paiens drummer Jean Surette says the group uncovered a number of ideas that it felt warranted further development, but rather than taking the time to sort through the ideas on its own, it handed the recordings over to Moncton-based producer Andy Creegan.
“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 told the Times & Transcript earlier this year. “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.
With the exception of a handful of post-production overdubs, Creegan was responsible for bringing Carte Noire to life. Surette notes that it was at that point, the band had to then learn the material in the manner that the producer laid out on record.
“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 be able 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 original improv sessions.”
Looking back upon the group’s celebratory release show for Carte Noire held in early November at the Aberdeen Cultural Centre, Surette says they were not only humbled by the capacity crowd gathered to see them perform, they were also buoyed by the reaction given to the new material.
“It’s always exciting to bring new material to an audience. It gives the band a boost as much as it does the audience,” Surette says. “What we weren’t sure of, however, was how the new music would be received. We seemingly picked up a lot of fans with [preceding album] Carte Blanche and felt the record was overall was pretty easily digestible. That album had the potential for a wider audience where Carte Noire was a little more exploratory in nature. We took a leap of faith with this new album and fortunately for us, it has paid off.”
Formed in 1994, Les Paiens has rightfully become known as one of the city’s most musically adventurous acts. Comprised of Surette, Marc “Chops” Arsenault on bass, Denis Surette on guitar, multi-instrumentalist Sebastien Michaud and Jonah Hache on guitar and electronic effects, the drummer believes a key part of the group still going strong lies in the fact that all five members are on the same page.
“We learned long ago that it’s important to manage expectations, both collectively and individually,” he offers. “Ensuring we are all on the same page brings a cohesiveness to what we do. We still take a lot of pleasure in performing and rehearsing together. We also realize how lucky we are to not only retain fans that have been listening to us for the last 15-20 years, but to also be earning new ones along the way.”
What: Les Paiens
When: Friday Dec. 23, 10 p.m.
Where: Tide & Boar Gastropub, 700 Main St., Moncton
Tickets are $8, available at the door