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Would it be too much of a cliché to say that pianist Andrew Boudreau brings the Northeastern territories of North America to life on Neon, his leader debut? After all, he was born in Nova Scotia, lived for most of his life in Montreal, was educated in Boston, and currently resides in New York City. While many of us profess ignorance of the jazz traditions of Nova Scotia, it’s certainly clear that Boudreau sounds perfectly comfortable in the international home of jazz. The incandescent “Mile Ex,” the brooding ballad “One Day” and the sweeping, swinging “Ribbons,” on which he’s accompanied by his longtime band of saxophonist Neta Raanan, bassist Simón Wilson and drummer Eviatar Slivnik, attest to that.
While generally a melodic player, with a rippling solo style and an easy way of putting chords alongside each other so they sing, he’s not afraid to tinker with the obvious, either. The head of the 6/8 “Maud Lewis” threatens to fall into discordance, but never does, while the cockeyed “Ghost Stories” finds its harmonic clashes made smooth by the crack rhythm section and Boudreau’s fingerwork. The lustrous “The Water’s Cold” and the tension-baked “Hopscotch” make good use of unusual (though not abrasive) rhythms, which encourage Boudreau to wander outside the melodies’ comfort zones. In play, compositions and arrangements, there’s an awful lot of talent on display on this impressive debut.
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