Jason Randall Smith is a contributing writer for Brooklyn's own Impose Magazine and a frequent podcaster, hosting Radio BSOTS (Both Sides Of The Surface) which features independent hip-hop, funk, and electronica. Jason is based out of Mt. Vernon, New York.
There will always be artists and fans that staunchly draw lines in the sand in order to champion one aspect of music over another. Perhaps some favor acoustic sounds to electronic or live instrumentation over sample-heavy production. Such divisions can be found throughout all musical genres and jazz has certainly seen its share of debates. Widely considered America’s classical music, a sea of raised eyebrows and clucking tongues can be heard whenever jazz musicians begin to deviate from acoustic pastures and dive headfirst into the digital domain. However, that’s exactly where Dave Painchaud finds himself, taking along his trusty trumpet and flugelhorn for the harmonic freefall.
Tales Told And Journeys Imagined is what happens when a seasoned session player dares to hole himself up in a studio and ask that dangerous question, “What if?” Make no mistake, jazz remains at the nucleus of this project, but electronic music is allowed to have a say as well. This opens up avenues of exploration that these genres might not have been able to explore fenced off from each other. The trip begins with “Making An Entrance,” a contemporary jazz gem propelled by funk-infused bass and drum programming. Painchaud’s trumpet playing recalls the unmistakable cool of Miles Davis, weaving in and out of chord changes with fluid movements. That same confidence is on display on “Searching And Ruminating,” which slows down the tempo to a contemplative pace. Painchaud effortlessly floats across the hushed accompaniment, adding an air of sophistication and class with every note he plays. Had he chose to simply stay within this harmonic climate for the entire album, the listener would be undoubtedly satisfied, particularly with teasers like “Session Rides.” It’s a 90-second peek into a romantic jazz waltz with Painchaud taking the lead, improvising a stellar solo that will make you wish you were a fly on the wall for the entire session.
However, this project wasn’t meant to stay within one aural environment for long, and bridges are built between genres with each selection. Whether it’s Painchaud giving a nod to Tchaikovsky and his love for classical music on “Pizz Osti Redux” or the sprawling, amorphous ambience of “Passage To Nain,” every song acts as a doorway to new sonic possibilities. It could be argued that the trumpet acts as a stabilizing presence throughout the album. As the bells chime and the tablas mark the rhythmic path of “In Transit,” the trumpet’s melody rises above the arrangement, serving as a beacon for uninitiated ears. “Spring Bloom Process” is built from a series of music box twinkles, thumb piano plucks, and a warbling bass line as its foundation. The brass section represents the last building block, which leads the composition to a grand fanfare.
The album concludes with “Up Number Indigo,” a suite in three movements that thrusts the listener into the most experimental and challenging portion of the album. The first movement, “Approaching The Anomaly,” is a mixture of syncopated percussion, radio transmissions, and bursts of random noise that flood the speakers and then disintegrate, leaving as suddenly as it came. “Curative Transfer” is second in line, an 11-minute slice of sonic utopia that brings the work of Steve Reich to mind. The trumpet and flugelhorn add layers of warmth to the tranquility provided by the sparkling chimes and underlying bass tone. “The Arrival At Indigo And The Promise Of Summer” brings the suite to a close with triumphant brass blasts that signal the end of a mind-expanding journey. The risks that Dave Painchaud took to complete Tales Told And Journeys Imagined were well worth it, creating an awe-inspiring sound exploration that captures the best of several genres and weaves them skillfully into an ambitious album.
Jason Randall Smith
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)
AIMA Nominee Dave Painchaud Talks About Tales Told and Journeys Imagined
Dave Painchaud discusses his first album, “Tales Told and Journeys Imagined” which garnered a 2012 Best Jazz Artist Nomination from Artists In Music Awards (AIMA).
By Amy Sommer | February 10, 2012
When I found out that I was to interview musician/composer Dave Painchaud, a nominee for 2012 Best Jazz Artist from the Artists In Music Awards (AIMA), for his “Tales Told and Journeys Imagined” CD and Digital album my thoughts naturally turned to smoky Greenwich Village bars. So, when it was time to turn to iTunes to listen to some of Painchaud’s works, I poured a glass of Audelssa Chardonnay (a favorite) -- in the name of work of course – turned down the lights and upped the volume so that I could listen to a sampling of works from the award nominated CD in the proper frame of mind.
“Making an Entrance” the first track to which I listened is a cool, well-produced track in the vein of progressive jazz that I had expected to hear. Mixing layers of sound and the standard tools of jazz – a heavy horn section made melodious with the help of a keyboard and strings – I was lulled … into a second glass of the lovely Audelssa grape and so enjoyed “Searching and Ruminating”.
Then I tuned in to “Up Number Indigo III” and “Piz Osti Redux” (the one piece not composed by Painchaud but he covers a classic here; its’ by Tchaikovsky) and actually had to wipe the visual and the wine from my mind; suddenly, Painchaud had transported me to a concert hall with his symphonic references and full, melodies. Clearly, I was not prepared for the breadth of this artist, a graduate of the Berklee (not the UC but the prestigious, Julliard caliber music school in Boston) School where he trained in trumpet and flugelhorn, and his love of blurring genres.
“Tales Told and Journeys Imagined”, Painchaud’s first album, “is supposed to take you on a trip and maybe expand the way listeners view the genres I’m trying to bend,” says Painchaud, “why can’t a jazzer go to the symphony space?” Why not indeed, the complexity and breadth of Painchaud’s work is sure to make his old Berklee teachers proud.
“I can jump around genres and I think that if the audience makes the trip - if I can get ‘em to listen to the ambient sound associated with Progressive Jazz and Electronica a la Brian Eno maybe then I can take ‘em to some place that they haven’t gone before and discover that this other genre is nice, that the water is fine,” enthuses the mile-a-minute North Eastern native as he becomes ever more passionate about his art.
“The first piece, [on the album] is straight ahead and then, with the second track, I start to take the listener somewhere else… that’s where the title of the album comes from, I wanted the sense that we’re going on a journey together… some of the places are predictable and others … not so much,” Painchaud concludes after several digressions about music and life. “Yeah, I digress a lot,” he says – and lucky enough for the audience so does his music.
Myki Angeline has her own show on v103 Rock called Afternoon Indie With Myk And Livvy which focuses on independant and unsigned artists. She also collaborates with Backstage Pass, a creative lofting project with artists in all fields working to promote and encourage arts and culture internationally. She wrote this review forThe Indie Times in May of 2012.
In a music scene where genres are created as often as songs are played, multi-talented musician/composer Dave Painchaud breaks boundaries with an original, tantalizing composition, Tales Told and Journeys Imagined.
While Painchaud’s (pronounced pay-show) incredible trumpet and flugelhorn skills reflect the obvious jazz influence, he is quick to point out his connection to Electronica which he infuses the styles of Miles Davis, Brian Eno and Daft Punk effortlessly. Painchaud prefers creating outside the boundaries, writing music without concern for style, or genre. This album appeals to a wide variety of music lovers, showcasing his ability to lure you in with familiar, modern sounds while exposing you to styles you may have never thought to explore. Songs like ‘Session Rides’ does just that with its classic 40’s era of jazzy piano, trumpet and swing style drums, while ‘Searching and Ruminating’ offer a more funk/jazz feel, reminiscent of 70’s R&B groups like ConFunkShun and Earth, Wind & Fire.
One of my favorite compositions is ‘Passage To Nain’, which took me on an ethereal, meditative journey, giving me the feeling of time-traveling. ‘In Transit’ gave way to the same feeling, adding in just the right amount of brass with bongo drum undertones. Progressive sounds can be heard in songs like, ‘Spring Bloom Process’ which mixes both Electronica and symphonic measures to create a light and cheery, fulfilling tune. Overall, the listener will come away with a broadened perspective on the world of musical possibilities.
Dan MacIntosh has been a professional music journalist for over 25 years. His work has regularly appeared in many leading music publications including CCM, CMJ, Paste, Mean Street, Chord, Amplifier and Spin.
When people ask Dave Painchaud what he sounds like, he oftentimes answers that he sounds like what would happen “if Miles Davis, Brian Eno and Daft Punk held a conspiratorial meeting aboard my time machine/trans-dimensional spacecraft while I furiously took notes.” Perhaps the Davis influence is the easiest one to spot, as Painchaud plays trumpet (Davis’ primary instrument) and flugelhorn. There is a lot of horn music on Tales Told And Journeys Imagined. Painchaud also studied music at the Berklee School of Music; one of the most highly esteemed music schools, and grew up loving jazz and classical music.
“Making An Entrance” shows off Painchaud’s jazz side, with its acoustic bass and electric piano parts, while “Presently (Street Mumbles To Somnambulism)” finds Painchaud gently playing trumpet over its soft groove. “Session Ride,” is also extremely jazzy, as it’s built upon walking bass, skittering drums, rhythmic piano and Painchaud’s faraway trumpet. However, there are also a number of tracks on this release that sound like almost anything but jazz. Take, for example, “Pizz Osti Redux,” which is especially chime-y, for lack of a better term. “In Transit,” on the other hand, is ambient, moody and filled with the variety of percussion that sounds like it just got off the boat from India.
It’s probably easy to fall into the trap of becoming a jazz snob. There are plenty of ‘em out there. Sadly, many jazz fans and musicians have a narrow definition of what jazz is. Painchaud, in contrast to such narrow-minded ones, is to be commended for expanding the boundaries of his musical exploration. Miles Davis took some of the very same dangerous steps – only with a much higher profile -- when he recorded albums like Bitches Brew, which fused jazz musicianship with primarily electronic instruments that were normally only associated with rock & roll at the time. Many criticized Davis at the time for selling out, even though that album, and many other Davis releases around the time were some of the most creative instrumental music ever made. One has to wonder why music critics sometimes behave like those arguably backwards Amish when it comes to evaluating musicians that color outside the lines. Remember when Bob Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival? Someone in the audience even shouted out “Judas!” in protest of Dylan playing amplified folk, or folk-rock, during that memorably set. What, is electricity of the devil or something?
The beauty of Tales Told And Journeys Imagined is that it is like a musical genre mash-up. Mash-ups, in their usual application, are when two songs are mixed together in creative ways. When done well, these experiments sound like brand new songs. Similarly, Painchaud takes musical styles that usually don’t play in the same sandbox together, and puts them along side each other to see what happens. It’s a little like a chef coming up with a new dish. You never know if flavors are going to compliment each other until you intertwine them on the same dinner plate. Call him a mad chef, if you will, but Painchaud knows how to make his flavors evolve.
One big goal in making music, especially instrumental music, is to create a mood with sound. Painchaud is at his best mood making with “In Transit.” For starters, this music conjures up images of staring out a window – whether that be a plane, train or automobile (or, perhaps, some other mode of transportation) – and watching the world go by outside. We as humans are nearly in constant motion, so such a scenario is familiar. The percussion, which sounds like it’s been borrowed from an Indian raga, gives the music that extra exotic touch. This track has the feel of a Philip Glass composition, although it’s not nearly as repetitious as much of that man’s work. The bottom line, however, is that it creates a mood, which transports the listener to another place.
If there were more daring musicians like Dave Painchaud out there, maybe more people would listen to the radio. Nobody should just eat burgers for lunch every day, and similarly no one should let their listening habits become so predictable that music becomes boring. Tales Told And Journeys Imagined is filled with stories and trips that are well worth your time.
Matthew Forss is an independent writer and ethnomusicology jounalist, blogger and expert on World Music. His writings are a treasure trove of information on this vast subject.
The jazzy excursions by Dave Painchaud are influenced by a number of areas, including classical, avant-garde, electronica, pop, funk, New Age, and others. The genre-defying properties of Tales Told And Journey’s Imagined awaken the senses from traditionalism and formalism into a new world of progressive exploration and mind-opening sounds of experimental delight. Dave’s uncanny sense of music, rhythm, and sound brings something retrospective, introspective, and global.
“Making An Entrance” is a perfect jazz intro featuring the trumpet, drums, and electronic samples. The jazzy and peppy song is purely instrumental with soft, electronic tones indicative of highly fluid South American jazz. The energetic beat is a seven minute journey of pure ecstasy. The funky jazz, mellow tones and upbeat rhythms are closely in-tune to a group called Action Figure Party. “In Transit” opens with a medley of electronic bells and a light percussive rhythm with the addition of the trumpet. The music is not as fast as the opening song, but it includes more electronic blurbs and ambient washes throughout.
“Pizz Osti Redux” features a one-and-a-half minute solo electronic medley in tone to a balafon or xylophone. The song ends with a high shrill sound. “Passage To Nain” opens with a dark, brooding sound with sparkling and intermittent tones of the mellophone. The dark background sound ebbs and flows throughout. The mellophone tones are quite crystalline or ice-like, which is likely inspired from a winter-time boat trip to Nain, Newfoundland. However, half-way through the song, a symphonic mix of ambient sound resembles some kind of divine sound on more than one occasion. Nevertheless, the song is the best example of ambient chill-out, while the jazzy leanings take a time out.
“Searching And Ruminating” opens with a percussive beat and an upright bass medley. The trumpet and keyboards take over as the melody takes on a classic lounge jazz presence. The dichotomy between the classic jazz feel and the contemporary sounds of smooth jazz blend in well with some ambient, electronic, and jam music. “Spring Bloom Process” opens with a music box-type sound and percussive tapping at various distances and pressures. The ambient washes and drippy electronica add to the mix of progressive leanings. The brighter moments of sparkling tones, high notes, and varying pitches help propagate the electronic sounds into a direction worth remembering.
“Presently (Street Mumbles To Sonambulism)” is a trip-hoppy song of sketchy sounds, funky melodies, and electronica-driven goodness. The drippy electronica and horn segments offset the bass-driven melodies. The six-and-a-half minute song oscillates between jazzy beats and darker, more solar powered moments that take on an introspective side. The brass horn awakens the listener from any sleepiness midway through the song. A light percussive beat occurs in the background, while the horns offset the keyboards and assorted percussion. This song combines the soul of jazz with deep space and trip hop.
Dave Painchaud is easily adaptable and comfortable with diverse musical forms of expression spanning multiple genres, places, and influences. Tales Told And Journey’s Imagined is an album that develops a concept of musical cohesiveness with multiple instruments and backdrops. The use of jazz, which is already closely linked to electronica, is one form of music that combines electronic and trip hop elements into an accessible and meaningful result. The strengths of the album include a one-hour-plus playing time, a great mix of ambient, electronica, trip-hop, jazz, and avant-garde sounds, and a mostly instrumental repertoire. The negatives are relatively nonexistent, but may be related to three songs that are one-to-two minutes in length. Overall, Dave’s latest album is perfect for Action Figure Party fans seeking something a little more experimental, instrumental, and far out!
5 stars (out of 5)