OLIVIER LE GOAS & RECIPROCITY 'ON RAMP OF HEAVEN DREAMS'
OLIVIER LE GOAS & RECIPROCITY, ON RAMP OF HEAVEN DREAMS was released on January 10, 2020 on Challenge Records International.
Olivier called on three of New York's busiest musicians, the American guitarist Nir FELDER who is already on the RECIPROCITY previous album, the English pianist living in New York John ESCREET and the American double bass player Larry GRENADIER. He takes them to the legendary BROOKLYN RECORDING STUDIOS - Brooklyn NY in early 2019, to record what will become his new album On Ramp of Heaven Dreams. It can easily be defined as a logical continuity to Reciprocity released four years earlier.
Composing a new repertoire specially for this recording, Olivier offers his new compositions with varied forms and melodies, a set of 9 original pieces to which is added a cover of Paul SIMON.
Click above to listen to 'HIGHWAY DREAMS'
Click above to listen to 'LIGHTSIZE DREAMS'
ON RAMP OF HEAVEN DREAMS
1 REALIZE - 6:12
2 LIGHT SIZE DREAMS - 5:54
3 EARLY IN THE MORNING - 6:45
4 HIGHWAY DREAMS - 6:55
5 A DAY WITH YOU - 6:29
6 OBLIQUE SONG - 5:21
7 RESURRECTION ROW - 7:07
8 A PLACE INSIDE - 7:29
9 BREAK LIGHT - 5:30
10 SO LONG FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT - 3:06
TOTAL TIME: 61:19
All songs composed by Olivier Le Goas except ‘So Long Frank Llyod Wright’ by Paul Simon
A skilled drummer with a strong command of polyrhythms and complex meters, Olivier Le Goas is also an accomplished composer with a gift for pleasing harmonies and memorable melodies. The veteran French bandleader showcased his abundant gifts on 2016’s acclaimed Reciprocity, which was hailed in a 4-1/2 star Downbeat review as “an appealing sound that has one foot in chamber-like formalism while also exploring heightened realms of improvisation.”
Le Goas’ followup, his sixth as a leader, stakes out similarly agreeable and dynamic musical territory; the kind that was favorably compared to the Pat Metheny Unity Group on his last outing. Returning from Reciprocity is rising star American guitarist Nir Felder, whose warm tone and fluid lines are a key component here alongside John Escreet’s cascading piano work, Larry Grenadier’s resounding bass lines and Le Goas’ irrepressible presence behind the kit. Together they navigate the twisting terrain of the drummer-bandleader’s fully-realized compositions with sensitivity and aplomb, with a couple of knowing winks to Metheny along the way.
Indeed, the album title itself contains a nod to the guitar great’s 1982 Grammy Award winning album, Off Ramp, while the brightly flowing and cleverly-titled composition “Light Size Dreams” is a sly reference to the title track of Metheny’s groundbreaking 1976 debut on ECM Records, Bright Size Life. Le Goas readily acknowledges the Metheny influence on those two appealing pieces. “Yes, the album title is directly inspired by that wonderful Pat Metheny album, Off Ramp, and ‘Light Size Dreams’ definitely has echoes of ‘Bright Size Life.’ But the fourth movement and coda from ‘Light Size Dreams’ were also inspired by ‘And Then I Know’ from the Pat Metheny Group album, We Live Here.”
While Le Goas’ fondness for Metheny’s flowing melodicism, signature lyricism and penchant for gradually building dynamics throughout a piece is clear on those obvious homages, it also manifests on other Metheny-esque numbers like the bright and affecting “Early in the Morning” (which alludes to Metheny’s “The Whopper” from the 1977 Gary Burton Quartet album, Passengers), “A Place Inside” (with its hint of Metheny’s buoyant “Lakes” from 1977’s Watercolors) and “A Day With You.”
“Break Light” is a prime example of the drummer’s busy, melodic instincts on the kit merging organically with his own songwriting skills. Says the composer, “I was clearly inspired by some of Keith Jarrett’s folk-influenced vehicles and wrote this song as a kind of ode to dance.”
Elsewhere on On Ramp of Heaven Dreams, Le Goas and his copacetic crew stake out their own territory on intricate, rhythmically-charged numbers like “Realize” (which surges forward on a 3/8 pulse before segueing to a 21/8 cycle while creating the illusion of a basic 4/4 groove) and the tricky, metrically-shifting “Oblique Song” (which hops around from 12/8 to 4/4 to 10/8).
The leader takes an understated, coloristic approach with brushes on his thoughtfully crafted, unhurried ballad “Highway Dreams,” which has Grenadier carrying the poignant melody on bowed bass and also features outstanding solos from Escreet and Felder. He further displays tasty restraint and interactive brushwork on the hauntingly beautiful ballad “Resurrection Row,” a piece reminiscent of Wayne Shorter’s “Fall” that features a particularly expressive bass solo from Grenadier along with inspired solos from both Escreet and Felder.
They close out the collection with a tinge of nostalgia on their gentle bossa nova reading of Paul Simon’s “So Long Frank Lloyd Wright” from Simon & Garfunkel’s landmark 1969 recording Bridge Over Troubled Waters. “This for me is a very special song,” said Le Goas. “Art Garfunkel, who had studied to become an architect, requested that Paul Simon write a song about the famous architect. And Simon wrote it with a secret reference to their upcoming breakup. As a big fan of the Guggenheim Museum and architecture in general, I think it’s a beautiful tribute.”
The very potent and remarkably empathetic band that Le Goas was able to assemble for this simpatico session came together through a combination of the drummer’s keen talent scout instincts and sheer providence. “I wanted to keep the already existing instrumentation presented on my previous album,” he explained. “Following the release of Reciprocity, we toured Europe with a group featuring myself, Nir, John Escreet replacing Kevin Hays on piano and the Polish double bassist Max Mucha. Unfortunately, Max had left the group before the time came to record a new album, so I suddenly had a find a new bass player. For many years I had wanted Larry Grenadier for my project, going back to when we first met by crossing at the exit of the Atlantic Avenue subway in Brooklyn in 2003. Let’s say, that was one of the happy coincidences of life. We became friends and there were periods when I would go over to his home to give him a listen to some of my new compositions that I was working on. So when Max left the group, it was an opportunity to call him for this recording, and luckily he happened to be free.”
Le Goas had high praise for all of his sidemen here. “Nir brings a warmth to the sound, combined with an ability to embrace all music that is given to him and an approach to detail that makes him a privileged partner. He is also an excellent interpreter and I am really won over by his way of playing the melodies of the themes I brought. With John, I had listened to him in Paris with Antonio Sanchez’s group and he literally amazed me by the force and clarity of his play. And when we began playing together on the Reciprocity tour, I immediately sensed that we had a lot in common — a kind of rhythmic and polyrhythmic affinity which often matches, especially during the improvisations, with a vivacious and clear interactivity. And Larry brings rigor and stability allied to a great depth that makes him one of the greatest bassists at the moment. He brought all those qualities along with this great intuition in real time that provides real happiness to play with him. It also brings a kind of moral support that takes an important place in the success of this project.”
From the big crescendo of “Light Size Dreams” to the angular, odd-metered “Oblique Song,” sparked by Felder’s distortion-laced lines and Escreet’s dissonant, freewheeling solo, to the sublime introspection of “Resurrection Row,” underscored by the leader’s sensitive, unhurried brushwork, On Ramp of Heaven Dreams is Le Goas’ most dynamic, consummately crafted and rewarding offering to date.
Add in the energetic, intuitive interaction of the foursome, the powerful and beautifully expressive solos of the individuals and the general feeling of uplift from tune to tune and you’ve got an outstanding offering from a talent truly deserving of wider recognition. — Bill Milkowski
OLIVIER LE GOAS - DRUMS
NIR FELDER - GUITAR
JOHN ESCREET - PIANO
LARRY GRENADIER - BASS
Produced by Olivier Le Goas
Recorded by Andy Taub at Brooklyn Recording Studios, Brooklyn NY in February 2019 - Recording assistant: Don Piper
Edited, Mixed, and Mastered by Philipp Heck at Bauer Studio Ludwigsburg in March 2019
Product coordination by Boudewijn Hagemans
Page photo by Juan Hitters