In The Midst
"The Sun Through the Rain"
Street Date: June 6th, 2017
Featuring saxophonist Richard Garcia and drummer Dor Herskovits, Steve Bilodeau's third, and arguably his most creative record to date, “The Sun Though the Rain” is an album of spontaneous improvisations spanning a wide range of sonic landscapes: from the calm and ethereal to the chaotic and the noisy. This trio of young musicians complement each other beautifully and expose the listener’s ear to an experience of thoroughly improvised material, presenting many unexpected turns and surprises along the way.
During the tumultuous and chaotic year that was 2016, Steve Bilodeau was deeply frustrated by the many divisions that emerged during the American presidential election. As a result, through his music, Bilodeau was eager more so than ever, to remind us that the human race works in cycles and that better days would soon come again.
“The human race moves in cycles just as one's life does, there are good times, bad times, misunderstandings, complications, triumphs, confusion and beauty and chaos all mixed together, and nobody knows how it's all going to play out.”
- Steve Bilodeau
Just like the strong sense of uncertainty and unpredictability present throughout 2016, Bilodeau appropriately reflected upon this year by creating an album of total improvisation and therefore decided to present a record full of unpredictability and surprise. Originally, Bilodeau had planned to compose pieces for the record but as time came closer to the recording session, he decided that he wanted to simply create music in the moment. Not only is this the environment in which he often performs at his best, it was also a perfect way to reflect on the unpredictable happenings and outcomes of the past year. As Bilodeau explains:
“Improvisation is a microcosm of life, in the sense that nobody can predict what will happen, no matter how much they want to. To me this record feels a lot like how 2016 felt to me.”
Bilodeau, Garcia and Herskovits met each other at the New England Conservatory in 2013, while they were each pursuing their Master’s degrees. They began playing together during this time, and immediately Bilodeau saw it as the ideal opportunity to try something that he had been wanting to try for a while; to compose and perform with a trio, with no bass. Their first public performance was at Steve’s graduation, where they played a set of improvisation based on loose compositional ideas. Following on from this, in 2016, the group performed at The Lilypad in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Bilodeau recorded the performance and liked the recordings so much that he released them online. However, he had no intent of recording a full album until George Trksak, the engineer of the sessions contacted Bilodeau asking him to record at Bop Studios in Massachusetts.
The compositional process as well as the production process of this album all took place in one day. Heading into the studio, Bilodeau wanted to use this opportunity as a totally improvised recording session and had no intent of recording a full album. However, to add to the underlying sense of unpredictability linked to this record, Bilodeau, upon listening back to the recorded material, realised that he didn’t want to put these improvisations to waste and decided to compile “The Sun Through the Rain”. In this sense the entire process: from the recording and production of the album to the performance itself was a result of pure and true improvisation.
Two of Bilodeau’s favourite tracks off the album include “In the Midst” and “Veiled Reflections”. While “In the Midst” is a tonal and beautiful moment of peace in the chaos, “Veiled Reflections” presents itself as a big step for Steve, as an artist. It is a completely improvised duet between Steve and Richard. Both musicians complement each other brilliantly, and Richard fittingly plays with a certain restraint and depth of sound, which allows Steve to explore the guitar in a more textural way instead of a technical one. As Bilodeau explains:
“I wanted to approach the guitar like a producer, by choosing sounds and layers instead of just notes and chords, and I think the way Richard and I listen to and play off of one another on this track is really intuitive and natural.”
For Steve, he wants his audience to be ultimately moved by this record; to understand that the motions we all experience, the chaos, the confusion, the anger, the hope, the joy and more, will evidently all show up at some point or another, and more often than not, they will be at the moment one least expects. Listening to the album from start to finish is a surprising experience and Steve arranged it that way on purpose.
“Ultimately it feels to me a lot like last year felt for me : unpredictable. I hope that the the listeners enjoy the surprise!”
“Musician of immense talent with the ability to open doors of a different and still largely unexplored world.” Read the full Italian review here.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"Bilodeau, Garcia and Herskovits follow parallel lines conjuring something new and unexpected in the purest time of all, in the moment. This is the core of The Sun Though the Rain a collective improvisational success." Read the full review here.