Quatuor de jazz libre du Québec, 1973

Formed in 1967, the Quatuor de jazz libre du Québec (QJLQ) was a force to be reckoned with in post-Quiet Revolution Quebec. Between 1967 and 1970, the QJLQ shared the stage with artists such as Louise Forestier, Robert Charlebois and l’Infonie. It promoted improvised music as a means of bringing about real social and cultural changes in Quebec. In 1970, the QJLQ established a colonie artistique in Val-David. It also acquired land – the Petit Québec Libre – in an effort to offer artists and political activists a communal place to exchange ideas. From 1970 onward, Quebec’s first free jazz ensemble turned to contemporary avant-garde music for further inspiration. As the decade unfolded, the QJLQ became more radical both musically and politically. Tenzier’s new release constitutes a rare opportunity to hear the quartet at its most potent.

This session was recorded at Radio-Canada’s Studio 13 on 13 May, 1973.

Format: LP, 180 gr – Limited edition
Quatuor de jazz libre du Québec: Music
Dominic Vanchesteing: Artwork

Quatuor de jazz libre du Québec
Jean Préfontaine: Tenor Saxophone and Flute
Yves Charbonneau: Pocket Trumpet
Jean-Guy Poirier: Drums
Yves Bouliane: Upright Bass

“Sans titre” – Excerpt

“Une minute de silence” – Excerpt

“Studio 13, le 13 mai 1973” – Excerpt

“Les retrouvailles” – Excerpt

“Historically potent unearthing of this amazing underground free jazz ensemble. The music is simply phenomenal, played with the kind of otherworldly energy of the original Albert Ayler Trio, with the brass scraping the goddamn ceiling while bass and drums hook up with alla the ferocity of Han Bennink and Maarten Altena on Marion Brown’s wild Porto Novo side. Very highly recommended!” – David Keenan (Volcanic Tongue)

“You can hear an angry militancy here, in the tenor sax and pocket trumpet’s full-bore post-Ayler squeals, the violent rips of the double bass and the machine-gun tattoos of the snare drum. The music is raged and impatient, storming the barricades with a utopian enthusiasm that recalls The People Band, London’s equivalent counter-cultural collective (…). Le Quatuor’s separatist political goals remain unfulfilled, but the music — which took the basic vocabulary of free jazz and twisted it into new non-idiomatic dialects — still feels relevant today.” – Daniel Spicer (The Wire)

“This record (…) finds the quartet at an artistic peak. The first side of this LP is explosive, with saxophonist Jean Préfontaine and trumpeter Yves Charbonneau charging ahead at full gallop. The rhythm section consisting of percussionist Jean-Guy Poirier and bassis Yves Bouliane, provides an intrinsic tension through a slower pace. In fact, Bouliane easily captures the most attention, with his thickly assured bass providing a powerful centrepiece from which the others pivot. The music has an Ayler-esque flavour, especially around the ten-minute mark, when the sax and trumpet develop a beautiful theme over a marching rhythm, complete with militaristic drum fills. But the quartet keeps things fresh and the music never feels derivative (…). This fantastic document definitely inspires further investigation of a fruitful moment in Québécois free jazz.” – Chris Kennedy (MusicWorks)

“The second archival project from Eric Fillion’s Tenzier (responsible for that fantastic Étienne O’Leary LP a year or so back) : Le quatuor de jazz libre du Québec, captured in 1973 in the Radio Canada studios & sounding like a mix of Peter Brotzmann’s Machine Gun band mixed with the raw, lurching freedom of countrymen Nihilist Spasm Band …” – Keith Fullerton Whitman (Mimaroglu Music)

“Tenzier is dedicated to preserving Quebec’s counter-culture music of the 60s and 70s. The label’s second LP (following the trippy collage soundtrack music of Étienne O’Leary) is a nationalistic Holy Grail — four previously unreleased tracks from le Quatuor de Jazz Libre, recorded at Radio-Canada in 1973. “Sans Titre” bursts out like Brötzmann’s Machine Gun, Jean Préfontaine’s sax intertwining lines with Yves Charbonneau’s pocket trumpet. Elsewhere, Yves Bouliane’s systolic bass underpins freer sound explorations, and overall, musical quality matches historical importance.” – Lawrence Joseph (Montreal Mirror)

“Je ne suis pas le seul grincheux nostalgique enivré par l’esprit du « bon vieux temps » et ce petit voyage en 1973, gracieuseté de l’étiquette Tenzier d’Eric Fillion, est un bon moyen d’entretenir cette petite lueur d’espoir nécessaire à la survie de l’homme en nous rappelant qu’il fut un temps, pas si lointain que ça, où les organismes culturels en charge de la propagation de l’art faisaient leur job comme du monde.” – AFR (Douze pouces dans le jazz, CISM)

“L’entrée est tonitruante, imposante même (Sans Titre), et sa suite semble se souvenir d’écoutes répétées du Machine Gun de Peter Brötzmann : à coup de mitraillettes, on rejoue la Guerre de Sept Ans, mais l’armistice ne tarde pas. L’archet de Bouliane embrasse en effet de sa profondeur toutes les revendications et exclamations possibles, tandis que des morceaux d’Internationale contraignent les virulences amélodiques. En conséquence, le Quatuor n’adapte pas le free jazz de son voisin du Sud, puisqu’il est en avance d’un siècle.” – Guillaume Belhommme (Le son du grisli)

“For those who lived through these heady times, it dusts off distant memories thinly veiled under a veneer of nostalgia; for others, however, the music reveals an essential quality, namely, a sense of urgency all too rarely heard in today’s music, jazz and beyond. If physics tells us ‘nothing gained, nothing lost,’ art tells us that all is to be gained when nothing is lost.” – Marc Chénard (La scena musicale)

“After releasing an LP on the infamous CBC Transcription service, Le Quatuor De Jazz Libre Du Quebéc began a welcomed transfiguration into a revolutionary ensemble championing the art of experimentation and revolt. This reissue, lovingly packaged by Quebec’s finest avant imprint (Tenzier), captures an unreleased session at the zenith of their creative expression (1973). Droves of intense skronk and burning percussion lace the energetic action with unfettered fire. A paragon within Quebec’s outstanding free scene.” – Aaron Levin (Weird Canada)

“Le langage a beau être un peu abstrait il s’apprécie avec les sens sans que ceux-ci soient agressés. Quoique, évidemment, ceux qui ne sont pas “habitués” auront quelques frissons dans le dos (ce qui en soi est un très bon signe pour commencer : le corps réagit et change d’état). Il ne reste plus qu’à se plonger dans l’époque pour se rendre compte à quel point le QJLQ fait preuve de sang froid. On apprend en effet, par la courte présentation transmise, que le QJLQ avait établi en 1970 une colonie artistique à Val-David (au nord-ouest de Montréal) et avait acquis une ferme – le Petit Québec libre – « dans le but d’offrir aux artistes et aux activistes qu’il côtoie un lieu communal pour échanger et discuter » et, en faisant une rapide recherche sur le Net, qu’il fut visé à deux reprises par des incendies déclenchés par des barbouzes de la GRC (Gendarmerie Royal du Canada). On entre dans une ambiance de polar, sauf que c’était réel.” – Eric Deshayes (Néosphères)

“The sound is singular, inspired. Swirling saxophone and trumpet lines engage in an all out battle on the opener “Sans Titre”. Their playing is charismatic and colorful while Bouliane is mesmerizing in his support of a single note staccato. Actually, the playing of Yves Bouliane is deep and impressive and it stands out throughout the record, especially on some rich bowed sections. If the intensity on the opening of side A, is characterized by the trumpet and saxophone coming together as instruments of destruction, the flip side is a more relax affair, led by Préfontaine on flute. “Studio 13, 13 mai 1973”, is more poised and gentle until Bouliane kicks in on bass, again stealing the show while Poirier on drums is busy layering the canvas with his brushes. “Les Retrouvailles”, showcases more of Poirier’s talent on percussive aspect of his drum kit, dialoguing with Bouliane in a clever way, reaching new heights when Préfontaine’s sax enters with a sustained blow. Rich, colorful and intense free jazz sitting perfectly between the East Coast school of Fire Music and the intellectual improv sessions of Western Europe. Exactly how you could define Quebec’s own mentality.” – Frédérick Galbrun (Foxy Digitalis)

“The music largely eschews composed heads for collective improvisation, consistently demonstrating the kind of committed intuitive work achieved through the long and close interaction of the quartet: saxophonist and flutist Jean Préfontaine; trumpeter Yves Charbonneau; drummer Jean-Guy Poirier; and bassist Yves Bouliane. Each of the four tracks has a distinct mood and texture, ranging through urgent, tumultuous musical riot (Sans Titre) to dirge (Une minute de silence) to exotic soundscape (Studio 13, le 13 mai 1973) to detailed and earnest conversation.” – Stuart Broomer (The Whole Note)