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Album Review

In retrospect, this early recording led by avant-garde clarinetist François Houle surprises not only for its melodic content but also for its range of styles. Houle has developed a reputation as a refreshingly freestyle clarinetist and has produced a series of very fine albums. Here he leads an all-Vancouver (Canada) septet called François Houle Et Cetera, with a talented four-horn front line backed by a pianoless trio. Each of the horns doubles or triples on other instruments, the result being tightly arranged pieces with the sound of a much larger group. Houle proves himself a formidable soprano saxophonist in addition to a clarinetist, and the inclusion of alto sax, bass trombone, euphonium, and tuba, among others, is revelatory. This is the sort of in-and-out performance that attractively incorporates multiple influences without sacrificing its soul.

Hacienda, François Houle Et Cetera
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