Everything about Quinn Bachand’s new album Blue Verdun — the retro look of the front cover, the cheerful swing rhythms, the brushes dusting the snare drum, and Bachand’s emotive channeling of 1950s swing jazz vocalists — it all converges to transport the listener to a cozy Paris nightclub of decades gone by, as you sip your mimosa and lose yourself in the nostalgic soundscape.
In addition to vocals on this record, Quinn lays down violin, guitar, banjo, bass, and lap steel. Saxophone, flugelhorn, and clarinet duties are handled masterfully by Connor Stewart. Maude Bastien provides smooth and tasteful drums, Paul Van Dyke aces the upright bass, and Beatrix Mette shines on harmony vocals. Brishen does its part to salvage and cultivate the concept of the album, sprinkling the recording with comfortably placed instrumentals and book-ending the entire listening experience with a string-powered Disney-esque opening “Welcome” and a Hitchcockian closing “Thank You.”
“I called the album Blue Verdun because I recorded it all in my bedroom in that suburb of Montreal this winter. It was a harsh one!” Quinn explains. “It’s also referring to Verdun in France and the battle in World War 1. The music is influenced by French dance band music and early euro jazz. And of course we’re paying some homage to Bobby Vinton and the fifties and early sixties jazz pop vibe, after going through a bit of a David Lynch phase.”
That is quite the melange of influences. And it works. Bobby Vinton comes out in the highlight ballads “Two Blue Eyes,” “Lonely Star,” and “Fading Light.” The French dance band sound emerges in perhaps the album’s strongest track, the peppy yet ethereal “Cheyenne (Quit Your Talkin).”
Brishen’s Blue Verdun offers a refreshing taste of French culture and a nostalgic swing around the big band dance floor. This album is, quite simply, a delight.
Pick up the CD when it is officially released at Brishen’s Victoria Jazz Fest performance June 24th at the David Dunnet Community Theatre (Oak Bay High School) at 8:00pm.
Tickets are $28 and are available at Lyle’s Place and through the Royal &
McPherson Box Office.
— James Kasper is president and founder of BC community record label Mighty Speck Records, as well as a voice actor and singer-songwriter.