Music and production

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Eau de Vie

by Le Jazz Collab

Released August 30th, 2014. Mastered and produced in Montreal, Canada.

Eau de Vie, is an album that speaks of Love. A Love Supreme. The Love of all loves. The love of my life. The Love the humans should feel for everyone around them, on the planet, and also for all living things. Animals, plants, fish, everything.

Le Jazz Collab obviously places a premium on collaboration, so it is important to identify the players on this album. They are some of the best musicians I know: top players all, from Montreal, from Costa Rica and from California.

First I must tell you about Roberto Barlettano, a Quebecois ex-patriate jack of all trades, who asked me when he laid down the very first Precision bass ostinato on a Love Supreme: “Why? Why would anyone want to do this?” Roberto was right. At first, the song was a twenty minute loop with not much more than a bass track that looped twice because after ten minutes of playing the same riff over and over again, Roberto said “That’s enough”, but I still had ten minutes of steady grooving bass. I had a vision of a montage, a series of vignettes, sort of like walking through an art gallery and looking at different pieces and paintings.

I used Jaco Pastorius’ method of recording everyone without hearing a lot of what everyone else did, as on the “Crisis” from the Word of Mouth album. Then I edited the sections together like Miles and Teo Macero might have done — as in A Tribute to Jack Johnson, for instance. Those are two production techniques which I have always admired. I have no pretension of approaching the level of musicianship of these great artists, but real artists steal, as the saying goes.

The drums keep it all together on two tracks, with Mike DiNardo playing them, on “A Love Supreme” and on “Dad’s Sweet Love”. Mike is a Montreal musician I met in Costa Rica a few years back. Mike has awesome musicality — more than “just” a drummer, Mike is an accomplished singer, songwriter, guitar player and also plays keyboards. He plays each year with the Dream Machine, the house band at Villa del Sueno. It’s a real pleasure to work with Mike, one of the sweetest people I know.

Adding Asian depth to the rhythm section is Rajiv Parikh on tabla. Rajiv is a gifted player who studied with the great Zakir Hussain, and was a founding member of the innovative pan cultural jamband, New Monsoon.

There are three bassists on “A Love Supreme”. Bill Bennett, who began his career in the music business at the Smithsonian Institution as a producer, played upright bass on the song in Costa Rica, where I recorded him with a basic mic and pickup setup. Bill told me “Put that bass up one octave and process it. See what happens.” This is a bit of the musical spice you hear in “A Love Supreme” — a sort of shimmering Eberhard Weber-type of sound. It just sings. Bill is the most musically learned person I have ever met.

Wayne Smith, known in Montreal for his unique sound, and his personal solid touch on five string bass, alternates with Roberto’s steady groove pumping bass on “A Love Supreme”. Wayne takes it home. I asked him last to lay down a bass track, and he immediately, the same night, recorded his bass and sent it to me. He transformed the track into a real jazz performance. Wayne is so solid, a player whose courage and determination in life are unparalleled.

Somewhere during the middle of the process, Yves Adam and Nicolas Chourot laid down respectively Tenor Sax and Guitar on “A Love Supreme”. Let me tell you these are two very hot musicians, top in their class in Montreal.

Yves is booked so often to play on gigs that he is hard to get a hold of. I am fortunate to count him as one of my closest personal friends. Yves plays with intelligence, a highly evolved personal sound, and irreproachable technique. And he reads music like no one I’ve ever met. I once printed out, straight from the music software, a tough piano solo, on my song “Good Planets Are Hard To Find” from the Groove 55 “En Route” album, and he played it from the crooked chart on the first take. I’m just glad the mic was on! Yves also plays on “Rosie”.

Nicolas has been a most helpful friend this past year. He has been present throughout the whole process of this EP, commenting on the tracks, laying down superb guitar tracks, suggesting changes on the mixes. I cannot thank him enough for his precious collaboration. Nicolas knows when to open up, and when to lay back. Which is the mark of a mature, accomplished musician. I am very fortunate that he participated in this project.

Alain Picotte plays upright bass on “Dad’s Sweet Love”. Alain is one of the most sought after bass players in Montreal. His solid, tasty, and smart playing brought this song to fruition. “Dad’s Sweet Love”, incidentally, is something I wrote thinking of my dear departed father. Everyone should be lucky enough to have such a good father.

Sidney Arruda plays electric bass on “Marry Me”. It was our first time in the studio together, and man, was I impressed. Here is a bass player extraordinaire who also plays guitar beautifully, in a “Manouche” fashion, and in a variety of styles.

Last but not least is the composer of “Federica,” Bruce Chavarria, who plays guitar and sings on the song. Very few people are born with such inherent talent. Bruce studied music in a at the Escuela Musica de Bueno Aires in Argentina, and plays throughout Costa Rica. Felipe Sáenz played a cajon percussion kit on Federica, and Rafa did the congas. Bill Bennett also plays upright bass on this track.

I must thank my dear friend Gaetan Pilon, from Studio Victor, who mixed a few songs and mastered all of them. Gaetan has the best mixing ears I’ve ever chance to work with.

I am the luckiest keyboard player on earth to be included on these tracks, with such a great line-up of musicians. I also programmed the drums on “Marry Me” and “Rosie”. I also did the bass on “Rosie”. Now I invite you to to sit back and enjoy this 17 minute version of “A Love Supreme”. The album is available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and all the other digital stores and streaming services.