Performing

The Patricia Julien Project was formed in 2005 to record Glee, an introspective jazz release of original tunes. Glee was Patricia Julien’s debut release as a leader. Featured on the CD are guitarist Alec Julien, bassist Jeremy Harlos, and drummer Ari Hoenig.

The band was re-formed in 2010 with drummer Caleb Bronz, and has released two more CDs with all-new, all-original material. You can catch the group performing around town in Burlington, Vermont.

Here’s a review of Still Light At Night, from Muse’s Muse

I don’t know if something’s in the water or what, but I’ve received some really fine jazz albums in the last month or so… A prime example of this is the Patricia Julien Project, a Vermont-based quartet that is hard to categorize beyond the rather general rubric of jazz, because they dip into so many different styles — fusion, funk, latin, bop, ballad — but manage all with aplomb and a great deal of musical and compositional acuity. Which is to say, they play the hell out of their tunes, and their tunes are good.

Julien is a nimble, gorgeously musical flutist. I’ve always had a problem with jazz flute. Call me shallow. It can seem somewhat one-dimensional, without the bite and aggression of a sax or trumpet. And yet Pat Julien has come up with a neat trick to sidestep this issue — she often doubles the melody line with guitarist (and husband? brother? cousin? no relation? press pack was mysteriously silent on the subject) Alec Julien, whose signature tone is a grungy, biting, overdriven sound, not ‘jazzy’ at all in the traditional Wes Montgomery sense. But it works well with the flute, and in fact helps make Julien’s flute sound at times like the devil’s own spawn. The combination takes the edge off the harsh guitar sound and gives Pat’s playing a body and menace you don’t often associate with flute. Flute with attitude. Don’t-f***-with-me flute. About time!

Another thing I like about this album are the song titles. Song titles are notoriously tricky in jazz. Evocative titles like Ruby, My Dear and Brilliant Corners (Thelonious Monk remains the acknowledged master of song-naming) are hard to come by and often sound cutesy or forced. But names like Sinister Nostalgia, Ten Suggestions, Proximity, Zip Zip and Lovely Would Be Nice have the same sort of mysterious, insouciant charm. And most importantly – the tunes deliver, making Still Light at Night one of the best jazz albums of recent years.