Yves Charuest and Ellwood Epps represent an ongoing story of improvised music in Montréal. Ellwood arrived in Montréal in 2005 and promptly set to work becoming one of the city’s busiest creative musicians, concertpresenters, and teachers. Yves was heavily involved in the scene during the 80’s and 90’s, and was one of the few players to branch out onto the world stage. During the period of Epps’ arrival and leading up to about 2011, Charuest was on a long sabatical, and so when they met in Nicolas Caloia’s Ratchet Orchestra, they were both new to each other, despite both having paid their dues for many years on the Montreal and international scenes.
Finding a common ground in energy and spirit, and with a great respect for the history of creative music in America, Canada, and Montréal, Yves and Ellwood decided to explore the possibilities of working together as a duet. They gave performances at several of Montréal’s fertile loft venues over a couple years, while continuing their work together in the Ratchet Orchestra, Epss’ group Rosasharn’s Dream, and other formations.
As a duet, the chemistry is immediate enough that prearranged material didn’t seem to be necessary. Rather, the two musicians find material in the immediate surroundings (place, time, people, energy), and arrange, develop, and transform it as any composer works with their own musical materials. In the summer of 2014 they felt ready to document their work together, and responded eagerly to the offer of bassist Raphael Foisy-Couture’s offer to record and release their music on his new Small Scale Music label.
Yves’ and Ellwood’s differences (in age, mother tongue, so-called ‘generation’…) are easily overcome in their willingness to participate immediately in the musical moment, to rejoice in belonging to the continuum of a musical becoming.
Ellwood Epps: Ellwood Epps, improvising trumpeter. Performances with Steve Lacy, William Parker, Josh Zubot, Henry Grimes, Jean Derome, Joe McPhee, Butch Morris, Marshall Allen. 50+ recordings, performances across North America.
Work involves many aspects of musical world. Teacher, concert presenter, broadcaster, journalist, venue manager, poet, composer, activist-agitator for positive change for music, musicians.
Cofounded l’Envers 2008, through which has presented 500+ concerts. Same year cofounded Mardi Spaghetti series at Le Cagibi. Director, principal teacher Studio d’Improvisation de Montréal since 2009, presenting ongoing series of improvised music workshops. Artistic director Festival of New Trumpet Music Canada.
Music as evolution, transformation, breathing always, ah.
Yves Charuest: Canadian saxophonist Yves Charuest has worked on the jazz and new music scene in the 1980-90s with many canadian musicians such as Michel Ratté, Jean Beaudet, Guillaume Dostaler, Lisle Ellis and Jean Derome, in different groups and projects: I Like Jazz, Evidence, Duo Charuest-Ratté, Trio Michel Ratté, Wreck’s Progress, among others.
Charuest was also a member of the Peter Kowald Trio (1985-1990) with Louis Moholo and played with William Parker, John Betsch and Mathias Schubert.
More recently, Charuest has been involved on many projects: Duo Charuest-Caloia, Murray Street Band, Ratchet Orchestra, The Disguises, Charuest/Shalabi/Caloia and Four-sided Circle, with Nicolas Caloia, Lori Freedman, John Heward, William Parker, Sam Shalabi, Scott Thomson and Josh Zubot.