Benoit Delbecq and Francois Houle Reunite on "Because She Hoped"


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Third CD from Acclaimed Pianist and Clarinetist Released on Songlines Recordings Released on November 8

Pianist Benoit Delbecq and clarinetist Francois Houle, who last collaborated as a duo on 2002's Dice Thrown, have once again joined forces on Because She Hoped, their third recording as a duo on Songlines Recordings. Because She Hoped was released on November 8.

Both musicians have a long and storied history with the label. Houle, who is based in Vancouver, Canada (as is Songlines), was the leader on the label's first release in 1992, and also released a 1998 tribute to John Carter, In the Vernacular, featuring Dave Douglas and Mark Dresser. Paris-based Delbecq, was honored last year with the Grand Prix International du Disque—the ultimate accolade from the French recording world—for his simultaneous releases, The Sixth Jump (with his trio) and Circles and Calligrams (solo piano), his ninth and tenth releases for Songlines.

Delbecq and Houle's first Songlines collaboration was 1997's Nancali, which was followed five years later with Dice Thrown. “A strange beauty permeates throughout..." according to the All Music Guide review of Dice Thrown. Because She Hoped offers an update on the work of these two distinctive composer-performers whose work together has its own very particular synergy.

Houle and Delbecq have both pioneered extended techniques on their instruments. Delbecq is known for his extensive use of preparations, developing a style inspired equally by Cage and Ligeti, African pygmy polyphony, and Steve Coleman, Steve Lacy, and other jazz greats. His process transforms the piano's natural resources into an evolving weave of textures and colours, improvised rhythmic-melodic 'fabrics' combining regular notes and prepared pitch- timbres.

Houle studied with Evan Parker, adapting the saxophonist's innovations to the clarinet and integrating classical technique with blue notes and quarter tones, circular breathing, sound effects, playing without a mouthpiece, etc.

Fifteen years after the duo's first meeting, the irresistible pull to play together is still strong. The music on Because She Hoped was created in the studio and during a brief tour in France. All but one of the CD's ten tracks are originals; Houle and Delbecq launch the program with"The Mystery Song," one of Duke Ellington's lesser known compositions (first recorded by Steve Lacy on his 1961 release with Don Cherry, Evidence).

Because She Hoped was recorded in high res (24bit/96K), by Delbecq's collaborators recording/mixing engineer Etienne Boultingaire, who has done live sound diffusion for composers Pierre Boulez and Pierre Henry, and cinema sound designer Nicolas Becker, who contributed a set of impulse responses (natural reverberation) he recently created in the greenhouse of a French Chateau.

Delbecq cites a conversation with Dave Holland to explain the uniquely complex and expressive music that results from his collaboration with Houle. “I remember something Dave Holland told me, back at the Banff Jazz Workshop, 1987: 'Playing needs to be unconscious and accurate while accurate listening has to be fully conscious.' I think this sentence totally applies to our duo. There is something highly conscious in the instant auto-analysis of the playing, and something definitely unconscious in the freedom we use—which is, for me, what a jazz 'ear attitude and altitude' is all about."

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