Think of a blend of jazz and rock. Add some political speeches about influential figures like Martin Luther King…and there you have it, folks. Welcome to the Gisèle Quartet.
With beautiful melodies, political themes and crunchy chords, the band’s first album, Roger, is the perfect kind of music to listen to if you are in the mood for good, no-nonsense jazz.
“We are four musicians, and the fun part of this project is that we are all friends,” said, one of the musicians, Louis Beaudoin. “I play electric guitar, Dave Croteau is on drums, Alex Dodier performs on the saxophone and Miriam Pilette plays guitar.”
The four musicians, three of whom live together, thrive on their friendship and maintain it is crucial to let their music reflect just that.
“When you play an instrument, I believe the instrument is an extension of yourself,” posited Beaudoin. “As such, you need to really connect with others in a band. Luckily for us, we get along very well. We are very honest with one another too. If we think something needs to be improved, we say it candidly.”
Influenced by musicians such as Chris Potter, Kneebody, Medeski Martin & Wood and King Crimson, Beaudoin acknowledged that the quartet’s music is heavily nuanced by other musical giants.
“We like to listen to a wide variety of music. We listen to [Dmitri] Shostakovich just as much as we listen to rap. We don’t like to have explicit references to other musicians, but if you listen closely to our album, you will hear sounds that will remind you of other composers,” said the guitarist.
Another influence, though perhaps not musical, manifests itself in the band name. The name of the quartet has personal connotations for one of its members.
“We decided to name our quartet after my grandmother, Gisèle, who is still living and is very excited that we named ourselves after her. She has a special place in my life,” explained Beaudoin.
Making their first album was a challenge, but a rewarding one for the band who prefers being on stage rather than in the studio. According to Beaudoin, expressing themselves in front of an audience allows for a deeper connection with the music, one not necessarily achieved while in a controlled environment.
“When you perform, you can improvise, you can let go a bit, you can really sink into the music. When you record, you are more tight, more restrained. It’s hard recording yourself for the first time and trying not to make any mistakes,” he added.
The titles of their songs are particularly comedic. Mostly in French, the titles take on a lighter tone.
“Since our work is all instrumental, we decided to have some fun with the titles of the songs,” said Beaudoin, who usually is responsible for the made-from-scratch genesis of a song. “We have funny titles such as Littérature sous-marine (Underwater literature) and J’aurais pu être un dauphin mais j’aurais jamais lu Camus (I Could Have Been a Dolphin but I Would Never Have Read Camus).”
Despite the group’s achievements thus far, the idea of making money off of music is not their priority since they all have other jobs and alternate sources of income.
“Although we are all trained professionally at universities, we have other projects on the go. Being a musician is hardly easy, let me say that. But we are not really interested in making money. What we are interested in is transferring our energy to the audience. That is what counts. The 10-second high you get on stage when everything clicks…that is what counts. It’s almost like a drug. We need that 10-second feeling.”
Though he is sure of what his music represents, when asked about the future, Beaudoin shrugged, almost unconcerned.
“We are more of a creative artistic group, meaning that we live primarily for the music, not for what tomorrow brings. Miriam is the best at organizing ourselves. That said, we are planning on going on a tour, going to places like Quebec City and Saguenay.”
The Gisèle Quartet performs at Le Labo on 552 Jarry St. on Dec. 3 at 7 p.m.