ImaginistLe Boeuf Brothers & JACK Quartet


“imaginist” is a unique concept album collaboration between genre bending jazz artists, the LeBoeuf Brothers, and the virtuoso contemporary music string quartet, the JACK Quartet. The album’s centerpiece is a narrated setting of the Franz Kafka masterpiece short story, “A Dream,” here narrated by Paul Whitworth. The textures alternate between word painting the quixotic story to open improvised sections, featuring the agile playing of the Le Boeuf Brothers and their collaborators, and string heavy sections highlighting the JACK’s well coordinated palette of extended timbres.


# Audio Title/Composer(s) Time
Total Time 48:33

A Dream

Remy Le Boeuf
05Grave Mound
Grave Mound
06An Artist
An Artist
07Here Lies...
Here Lies...
08He Began to Cry
He Began to Cry
09At Long Last
At Long Last

Exquisite Corpse

Pascal Le Boeuf
10I: Foreshadow
I: Foreshadow
11II: Flashback
II: Flashback

“imaginist” is a concept album collaboration between genre bending jazz artists, the Le Boeuf Brothers, and the virtuoso contemporary music string quartet, the JACK Quartet. The album’s centerpiece is a narrated setting of the Franz Kafka masterpiece short story, “A Dream,” here narrated by Paul Whitworth. The score deftly integrates three seemingly disparate elements: the jazz quintet led by the Le Boeuf Brothers, a string quartet, and narration. The opening movement, “Josef K,” weaves a canonic theme through the ensembles, before Whitworth sets the scene. Throughout the internal movements, weighty themes, evocative of Kafka’s Central European heritage, fluidly transition into open improvised textures, often featuring the agile alto sax playing of Remy Le Boeuf. Subtle word painting colors the quixotic story, and string heavy sections highlight the JACK’s well coordinated palette of extended timbres. The Kafka setting is bookended on either side by instrumental pieces that establish the album’s symmetrical structure. The “Prologue” begins with a halo of harmonics functioning as a drone, and played by JACK as Ben Wendel’s tenor saxophone wails plaintive figures, vaguely evocative of an Armenian duduk. “Alkaline” takes its name from the phenomenon of an aqueous solutions’ ability to neutralize an acid. Extending this paradigm to social systems and the struggle for racial justice, Pascal Le Boeuf uses musical tools in his composition to ask, “what is the tipping point at which a system is no longer able to restore its own balance?” “Pretenders” opens with a multi-voiced texture centered around an aspirational, ascending line that evolves into a open improvised section featuring trading solos between Remy Le Boeuf’s alto sax and Wendel before a snaking piano solo. The Exquisite Corpse series features a technique wherein subsets of the ensemble record guided improvisations independently, and the final musical composition is assembled by the composer in post-production. “Exquisite Corpse: Foreshadow” paints a resigned scene, with poignant microtonal material in the strings over a drone and scattered, disembodied figurations in the percussion. “Exquisite Corpse: Flashback” returns to the driving character of “Alkaline” while also recalling the string texture of “Prologue.” A hopeful harmonic progression eventually emerges before the ethereal strings float away into the atmosphere. The “Epilogue” is a fitting coda, hearkening back to the multi-voiced texture of “Pretenders,” as the saxophone plays soaring lines over the quartet’s lush voice leading.

- D. Lippel

Recorded by Andy Taub, Mixed and Mastered by Dave Darlington, Additional Mixing and Production by Pascal Le Boeuf
Recording location: Brooklyn Recording
Recording dates: 04/29/2014 and 05/09/2014
Produced by Pascal and Remy Le Boeuf

Le Boeuf Brothers:
Remy Le Boeuf - Alto Sax and Bass Clarinet
Pascal Le Boeuf - Piano
Ben Wendel - Tenor Sax
Ben Street & Martin Nevin - Bass 
Justin Brown & Peter Kronreif - Drums 

JACK Quartet:
Ari Streisfeld - Violin
Christopher Otto - Violin
John Pickford Richards- Viola
Kevin McFarland - Cello

JACK Quartet

The JACK Quartet electrifies audiences worldwide with "explosive virtuosity" (Boston Globe) and "viscerally exciting performances" (New York Times). David Patrick Stearns (Philadelphia Inquirer) proclaimed their performance as being "among the most stimulating new-music concerts of my experience." The Washington Post commented, "The string quartet may be a 250-year-old contraption, but young, brilliant groups like the JACK Quartet are keeping it thrillingly vital." Alex Ross (New Yorker) hailed their performance of Iannis Xenakis' complete string quartets as being "exceptional" and "beautifully harsh," and Mark Swed (Los Angeles Times) called their sold-out performances of Georg Friedrich Haas' String Quartet No. 3 "mind-blowingly good."

The recipient of New Music USA's 2013 Trailblazer Award, the quartet has performed to critical acclaim at Carnegie Hall (USA), Lincoln Center (USA), Wigmore Hall (United Kingdom), Suntory Hall (Japan), Salle Pleyel (France), Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ (Netherlands), La Biennale di Venezia (Italy), the Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), Bali Arts Festival (Indonesia), Reykjavik Arts Festival (Iceland), Festival Internacional Cervatino (Mexico), Kölner Philharmonie (Germany), Donaueschinger Musiktage (Germany), Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik (Germany), and Darmstadt Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik (Germany).

Comprising violinists Christopher Otto and Ari Streisfeld, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Kevin McFarland, JACK is focused on the commissioning and performance of new works. In addition to working with composers and performers, JACK seeks to broaden and diversify the potential audience for new music through educational presentations designed for a variety of ages, backgrounds, and levels of musical experience.

The members of the quartet met while attending the Eastman School of Music and studied closely with the Arditti Quartet, Kronos Quartet, Muir String Quartet, and members of the Ensemble Intercontemporain.

Le Boeuf Brothers

The Le Boeuf Brothers are "talented musicians and award-winning composers who channel their influences, environments, and resources into works that reflect their own identities." (All About Jazz). Remy and Pascal Le Boeuf, saxophone and piano respectively, "pursue a hyper-fluent streamlined modern ideal" (New York Times) with "an impressive level of sophistication." (San Francisco Chronicle).Their most recent project ‘imaginist’ is a full-length album in collaboration with JACK Quartet featuring a 9-piece hybrid ensemble of New York based musicians, including grammy-nominated tenor saxophonist Ben Wendel, bassist Ben Street and drummer Justin Brown. The term "imaginist" is a reference to an early 20th century Russian poetry movement characterized by sequences of arresting and uncommon images alongside long chains of metaphors. Funded in part by a New Jazz Works commissioning grant from Chamber Music America, ‘imaginist’ is structured to unfold like a book complete with a prologue and epilogue. The album includes a narrated piece based on Franz Kafka's short story, "A Dream," an Exquisite Corpse series based on the imaginist principle of juxtaposing images together to yield a synergistic product, and "Alkaline," a hard-driving polyrhythmic mosaic interspersed with moments of group improvisation.



New York Times

The identical twins Remy and Pascal Le Boeuf — a saxophonist and a pianist, originally from Santa Cruz, Calif. — share a foundation in classical music as well as modern jazz. Their impressive new album, “imaginist,” is a collaboration with the JACK Quartet, and it goes further than most such efforts to tackle the idea of “chamber-jazz” without holding back on either side. One of the most evocative tracks is “Pretenders,” a piece composed by Remy Le Boeuf; it features a second saxophonist, Ben Wendel, and a jet-stream forward pull. — Nate Chinen, New York Times, 10.14.2016



Any artist thinking of tackling a narration-oriented project would do well to treat Imaginist as a model when it achieves such an exceptionally satisfying balance between music and text. Instrumentally, it's a resplendent affair that blends the playing of composers Remy (alto sax, bass clarinet, oboe) and Pascal Le Boeuf (piano) with the JACK Quartet (violinists Ari Streisfeld and Christopher Otto, violist John Pickford Richards, cellist Kevin McFarland), Ben Street and Martin Nevin (bass), Justin Brown and Peter Kronreif (drums), Ben Wendel (tenor sax), and narrator Paul Whitworth. Stylistically, the album satisfies, too, in the way the musicians smoothly segue between jazz, improv, and chamber classical forms, the result often suggesting some modern-day take on Gunther Schuller's Third Stream concept; it's not uncommon for romantic chamber passages suggestive of an early 20th-century Viennese salon to alternate with breezy, sax-driven jazz episodes, and though integrating string quartet playing into an improv-influenced context is never easy, if any group can meet the challenge it's the JACK Quartet, known for its adventurous embrace of new music concepts. Structurally, the content is effectively organized along symmetrical lines: three opening parts and three concluding sections function as frames for the six-part centerpiece, whose narration is drawn from Kafka's short story, “A Dream,” and as if to further reinforce the literary dimension, the fifty-minute recording includes both a prologue and epilogue.

Accompanied by droning string harmonics, Wendel's tenor calls forth with plaintive, Garbarek-like figures in the luscious “Prologue,” after which the expanded ensemble digs into “Alkaline” with gusto, its intertwined array of drums, piano, strings, and saxes operating like a multi-limbed jazz orchestra. In keeping with its associated technique, the two parts of “Exquisite Corpse” were assembled by the composer in post-production from separate improvisations and as such exude a more pronounced experimental and open-ended quality than other album selections. Wrapping things up nicely is the elegant “Epilogue,” as fittingly luscious in its strings-heavy presentation as the album's opener. With respect to “A Dream,” Whitworth renders Kafka's text with a well-calibrated degree of expressiveness, while the musicians punctuate the narrator's words with ever-evolving tone colour and dynamics that effectively mirror the textual content. Much like the album as a whole, the balance between the voice and instrumental elements feels just right. - Ron Schepper, textura, 11.2016


NYC Jazz Record

In the space of three recordings, the Le Boeuf Brothers (reed player Remy and pianist Pascal) have established themselves as young artists on the move in the field of new improvised music; imaginist, their fourth project, a collaboration with the JACK Quartet, should keep that momentum going. The album's title refers to the Russian poetry movement in the early 1900's, its influence manifest in the record's striking tonal imagery, pliant use of improvisation within each form, two exquisite corpse (assembled from independent ideas) pieces and the central suite based on Franz Kafka's short story "A Dream", wherein the author's narrated text is set to music.

The tracks, all composed by either of the twin brothers, run in programmatic fashion, from "Prologue" to "Epilogue", the jazz quintet (completed by tenor saxophonist Ben Wendel, bassist Ben Street or Martin Nevin and drummer Justin Brown or Peter Kronreif) well balanced with the string quartet (violinists Christopher Otto and Ari Streisfeld, violist John Pickford Richards and cellist Kevin McFarland). One of the most interesting aspects of this music, beside the folksy melodies, extroverted minimalist textures and tangled counterpoint, are those moments of freedom found within each arrangement -- chaos under control -- which lend a bit of breadth and imagination to the otherwise refined and chamber-like ambiance, a tribute to both the improvising prowess of the string players and the tasteful restraint of the "jazz" players.

Good examples can be found throughout the Kafka suite, where the group improvises responses suggested by the text: when narrator Paul Whitworth says, "...and he let the pencil drop," for example, the strings answer with a plunging glissando. Remy's romantic, cool-toned alto saxophone works well in juxtaposition to Wendel's tougher tenor while Pascal's varied piano textures provide interesting connective tissue across the morphing sections. The album is a strong "writerly" effort, but with enough musical spontaneity to bring the writing to life. -- Tom Greenland, NYC Jazz Review, 11.2016


el intruso

El enlace entre la música y la literatura es una de las más antiguas y provechosas colaboraciones que se ha producido entre distintas disciplinas artísticas. Esa relación, no obstante, puede expresarse de múltiples formas, permitiendo de tal modo que hallemos manifestaciones musicales dentro de la literatura o recursos literarios dentro de la música o que ambas vertientes aparezcan hermanadas en una misma obra.

Existen innumerables tratados que han abordado este tema -tanto de manera general como en derredor de sus similitudes, paralelismos, divergencias y mutuas influencias- entre los que puede incluirse, muy especialmente, a los libros de Calvin Brown (Music and Literature y The Writing and Reading of Language and Music), Música y lenguaje en la estética contemporánea de Enrico Fulbini y La Correspondance des arts. Eléments d’esthétique comparée de Etienne Souriau; pero, más allá de sus diferentes enfoques teóricos, en todos ellos encontraremos la irrefutable ratificación del lazo histórico que ha unido a la música y la literatura desde épocas ancestrales.

Esa correspondencia no debe sorprendernos, ya que estas dos formas de arte mantienen una ligazón que se remonta a la época de los trovadores, pasa por el lied o la ópera y alcanza al formato de la canción moderna. Incluso, en tiempos recientes no sólo ha llegado a manifestarse como una mera unión de dos lenguajes diferentes sino también como un arte único e interdisciplinario.

En ocasiones, música y literatura evidencian una relación de paralelismo que permite desarrollar dos lenguajes artísticos diferentes en un mismo tiempo y lugar sin que se mezclen recursos (así sucedió durante los períodos en donde convivieron la literatura del barroco y la música barroca o la literatura del romanticismo y el romanticismo musical, etc.) y también hay casos en los que la vinculación entre música y literatura emerge de manera implícita como ocurre -por citar unos pocos ejemplos– con la presencia de la música en la prosa de Marcel Proust o en la poesía de Charles Baudelaire o, en sentido contrario, con la influencia de la poesía francesa en la sintaxis musical de Maurice Ravel.

Lo cierto es que la relación entre música y literatura y entre esta última y “un sueño” -como indica la frase de Borges incluida en el epígrafe- aparece sobredimensionada en la propuesta estética que acaba de cristalizar Le Boeuf Brothers + JACK Quartet en el álbum titulado Imaginist.

Este nuevo trabajo de la agrupación Le Boeuf Brothers es una colaboración con el afamado ensamble de cuerdas JACK Quartet que ha sido estructurada como si se tratase de un libro –es decir, con prólogo, desarrollo y epílogo– cuyo nudo argumental gira, principalmente, en torno al cuento A Dream (“Un sueño”) de Franz Kafka.

El título Imaginist deriva de la corriente literaria denominada Imaginismo, que surgiera en Rusia a comienzos del siglo XX y contara entre sus principales cultores a los poetas Serguéy Yesenin, Anatóliy Mariengof e Ívnev Riúrik.

La propuesta del álbum amalgama los elementos estilísticos de la poesía imaginista -caracterizada por imágenes impactantes y el uso de largas cadenas de metáforas- con un refrescante acercamiento a la improvisación del jazz y una singular aproximación a la música de cámara contemporánea.

El grupo Le Boeuf Brothers -liderado por los gemelos Remy y Pascal Le Boeuf– se ha distinguido por fusionar al jazz moderno con hip-hop, música electrónica e indie-rock. Hasta aquí su discografía incluye a los álbumes House Without a Door de 2009, In Praised of Shadow en 2011 y Remixed de 2013. En adición a su labor como banda, los hermanos Le Boeuf han formado parte de diversos proyectos. Remy Le Boeuf trabajó con los saxofonistas Donny McCaslin y Bobby Mintzer; en tanto que Pascal Le Boeuf ha acompañado en gira a D’Angelo, grabó con la artista pop australiana Meg Mac y el vocalista Allan Harris e íntegró el ensamble de funk-góspel Jesus On the Mainline.

Le Boeuf Brothers, para la concreción de Imaginist, reunió a un ensamble de cámara integrado por el prestigioso JACK Quartet -Christopher Otto y Ari Streisfeld en violines, John Pickford Richards en viola y Kevin McFarland en cello- y algunos de sus colaboradores más frecuentes: el saxofonista Ben Wendel (Kneebody, Ben Wendel Group), los contrabajistas Ben Street (Jakob Bro, Billy Hart) y Martin Nevin (Albert “Tootie” Heath, Sam Harris Trio) y los bateristas Justin Brown (Thundercat, Vijay Iyer Trio) y Peter Kronreif (Wayfarers, Dr. No).

La apertura del álbum con Prologue aparece, mayormente, dictaminada por los principios de la improvisación y permite el especial protagonismo de las cuerdas del JACK QUARTET y el saxo alto de Remy Le Boeuf.

En Alkaline ofrecen un poderoso mosaico polirrítmico en el que confluyen composición e improvisación. En la irreprochable interpretación de conjunto tendrán particular relevancia aquí los aportes de las cuerdas, el piano de Pascal Le Boeuf y la batería de Justin Brown.

El reposado lirismo esbozado en Pretenders da paso a las aquilatadas apariciones solistas de Ben Wendel en saxo tenor, Remy Le Boeuf en saxo alto y Pascal Le Boeuf en piano.

Luego llegarán los seis “capítulos musicales” que componen la pieza central de Imaginist, inspirada en el cuento A Dream (“Un sueño”). Este relato breve de Franz Kafka describe la historia de alguien que sueña estar caminando en el cementerio y encuentra una lápida con su nombre.

El poético e imaginativo desarrollo de las seis partes que integran la suite A Dream Introduction, Grave Mound, An Artist, Here Lies, He Began to Cry y At Long Last- sumará al actor Paul Witworth en la narración completa del texto pergeñado por Kafka. El tratamiento otorgado a la obra alternará pasajes en donde la narrativa aparece integrada a un marco composicional con otros en los que la improvisación subraya libremente el texto.

En la parte final del álbum se suceden la exquisita confluencia de improvisación y poesía imaginista expresadas en Exquisite Corpse I: Foreshadow y Exquisite Corpse II: Flashback y el carácter elegiaco que desprende Epilogue.

El proyecto impulsado por Le Boeuf Brothers + JACK Quartet, en Imaginist, se nutre de fuentes literarias para construir un relato musical tan ambicioso e infrecuente como refinado y personal. - Sergio Piccirilli, el intruso, 10.2016


Bandcamp Daily : Best of Bandcamp Jazz

Brothers Remy & Pascal Le Boeuf have a hyperactive strain of creativity that prevents them from sitting still for even a moment. This has resulted in an impressive array of projects spanning a wide range of styles—from modern post-bop to electronica & hip hop-influenced jazz to avant-garde projects with a theatrical bent. On the newest from the alto saxophonist and pianist, they collaborate with the Jack Quartet, a string group specializing in modern classical compositions. The seed of the album is the 20th Century Russian poetry movement Imaginism, in which the flow of vivid imagery both sets the scene and drives the action. That the Jack Quartet is a chamber outfit completely at ease in an improvisational environment works beautifully with the Le Boeuf Brothers’ chosen direction. Some albums are described as being cinematic because the music has the vague, surreal qualities of a movie soundtrack; Imaginist is cinematic because it is the movie, one set of distinct imagery following the other like scenes across the screen. - Dave Sumner, October 2016


New Yorker - Goings on About Town

Classical music’s chamber wing has become a small home for big experiments in cross-genre fertilization. The Le Boeuf Brothers (Pascal on piano, Remy on saxophone), prodigious twins from Santa Cruz, are clearing their own path, mixing the solid swing of the jazz tradition with hip-hop, indie rock, and the complex techniques of classical modernism. With their sidemen, they join the ever-ready JACK Quartet in a concert at National Sawdust on Nov. 16 that celebrates the release of their new album, “imaginist.”

- November 2016


Jazz Trotter

Pour la parution de leur nouvel album « Imaginist » chez New Focus, le duo Le Bœuf Brothers et le Jack Quartet, quatuor de musique contemporaine, sont en concert mercredi 16 novembre à 19h au National Sawdust de New York (USA).

Interprétant les oeuvres du pianiste Pascal Le Boeuf et du saxophoniste Remy Le Boeuf, l'ensemble de chambre hybride à neuf membres comprend le Jack Quartet, un des premiers quatuor à cordes new yorkais dédié à la musique classique contemporaine, ainsi qu'un collection de collaborateurs de longue date comprenant le saxophoniste nominé au Grammy, Ben Wendel, les bassistes en alternances Ben Street et Martin Nevin, les batteurs en alternance Justin Brown et Peter Kronreif.

Le terme imaginist fait référence au mouvement de poésie russe du début du XXème siècle et l'album est conçu pour se dérouler comme un livre, y compris un prologue et un épilogue.

“Autant les mots que la musique ont le pouvoir de créer un paysage émotionnel captivant ou une histoire dans laquelle l'auditeur peut s'évader. Ce projet est destiné à susciter l'imagination en créant un monde poétique multicouches qui peut être exploré à nouveau à chaque récit.” Remy Le Boeuf

-- Alex Dutilh, 11.16.2016


Jazz Tokyo

た完成度で録音された。本作における作曲的なアプローチをした即興演奏についてパスカルは「4人の卓越したプレイヤーが、従来のジャズ・アンサンブルとは全く異なる一つのヴォイスを生み出すジャック・クァルテットとともに演奏して、私たちは従来の即興演奏とは異なる新たな手法を探求した。そしてインプロヴィゼーションを内包しながら、緻密な作曲/アレンジを両立させることができた」と語る。”Alkine”では作曲された部分と即興の部分が激しく交錯してメロディ・ラインを抽象化しながら、双方を重ね合わせて曲を完成させることを試みたそうだ。”Prologue”はレミーとジャック・クァルテットのデュオで、大まかなディレクションのみのインプロヴィゼーションで演奏され、”Exquisite Corpse”も同様の手法でフル・メンバーでプレイされた。”Pretenders”は、前々作のコンセプトに近いメロディアスなプレイで、レミー&パスカルのジャズ・ユニットとストリングスの融合のヴァリエーションの豊富さがわかる。”Epilogue”も、またレミーとジャック・クァルテットが美しいアンサンブルを聴かせ、エンディングを飾った。

11月16日のブルックリン、ウィリアムスバーグのナショナル・ソーダストでのCDリリース・コンサートでは、”A Dream: The Musical Imagination of Franz Kafka”と”Exquisite Corpse”は演奏されなかったが、2人のオリジナルが様々なコンビネーションで演奏された。ジャック・クァルテットが入らないクインテットでも、このグループがコンテンポラリー・ジャズの最前線にいることを改めて認識させる快演だった。レミーが昨年、慶應義塾大ライト・ミュージック・ソサィエティのコミッションで作曲し、山野ビッグバンド・ジャズ・コンテストで最優秀賞に輝き、今年3月には来日し慶應ライトと共演した”Strata”も、ウィズ・ジャック・クァルテット・ヴァージョンで演奏され好評を博した。ニューヨーク・ジャズ・シーンに、また新たな潮流が巻き起こる。

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