Atlantis Jazz Ensemble, Oceanic Suite:
"Top Jazz Albums of 2016 (#2)"
!earshot Year-End Radio Charts, Canada

Atlantis Jazz Ensemble, Oceanic Suite:
"Top Albums of 2016"
WaxPoetics, Brooklyn NY

Atlantis Jazz Ensemble, Oceanic Suite:
"Top Albums of 2016"
Andy Hazell, UK Vibe, UK

Atlantis Jazz Ensemble, Oceanic Suite:
"Top Albums of 2016"
Funkish, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Atlantis Jazz Ensemble, Oceanic Suite:
"Top Albums of 2016"
The Pie at Night, UK

Atlantis Jazz Ensemble, Oceanic Suite:
"Top Albums of 2016"
Goodkid, Poland

Atlantis Jazz Ensemble, Oceanic Suite:
"Jazz Album of the Week: April 2016"
FIP, Radio-France, Paris France

Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays, Introducing Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays:
"Top Soul Album of 2011"
Mangroove, Montréal QC

Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays, Introducing Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays:
"Top 10 Albums of the Week"
September 6th, 2011 & October 4th, 2011
!earshot National Hip Hop Charts, Canada

Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays, Introducing Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays:
"Top 100"
October 2011
iTunes France RnB & Soul Song Charts

Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays:
"Artist of the Month"
September 2011
Planète Jazz, Montréal QC

Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays, Introducing Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays:
"Top Albums of September 2011"
Radio Nova, Paris France

Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays, Introducing Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays:
"Top 10 Albums of the Week"
September 29th, 2011
Palmarès interactif, Bande à part, Radio-Canada

Ottawa Citizen
by Lynn Saxberg
February 9th 2017
Ottawa ON

A surge of spiritual jazz

Ottawa's Atlantis Jazz Ensemble's music is meant to elevate the soul

The scene at Le Petit Chicago was a surprise for a bitterly cold Monday night in January. The cozy, candlelit club in Old Hull was packed with people, young and old, all mesmerized by the sultry grooves of a highly skilled band. It felt like a Paris jazz club in the 1960s.

The musicians responsible for this feat of time travel belong to one of Ottawa's hottest new jazz combos, the Atlantis Jazz Ensemble. Founded almost four years ago by Souljazz Orchestra bandleader/pianist Pierre Chrétien and saxman Zakari Frantz, their original plan was simple: to fill the Monday-night residency at Le Petit Chicago.

"It was a real casual kind of thing," said Chrétien in an interview. "But then it started gelling together and we really liked what was happening so I started writing new compositions, and that's when we decided to form an actual official band."

The lineup is rounded out by the top-notch chops of Ed Lister on trumpet, Alex Bilodeau on double bass and Mike Essoudry on drums. Jazzman-about-town Petr Cancura was a special guest at the final Monday session in January, and will join the group for their Ottawa Winter Jazz festival outing on Feb. 10.

Their name comes from the the mythical island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Says Chrétien: "I'm influenced by North American jazz but also European and African jazz. We thought it was a good description of our sound, somewhere between those two [shores]."

Last spring's release of the band's debut album Oceanic Suite turned heads, including that of superstar U.S. saxophonist Kamasi Washington, who hand-picked the Ottawa musicians to open for him at a sold-out show at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. Performing for an audience roughly 40 times bigger than their usual crowd in Old Hull, the moment was "quite an honour" for Chrétien and his bandmates.

In the months since, the album has continued to gain traction, ending the year at No. 2 on Canada's campus-radio jazz charts, just behind Badbadnotgood. It's also getting airplay around the world, which is always a surprise for an independent jazz release.

The music of Atlantis falls into the sub-genre of spiritual jazz, heavily influenced by the work of John Coltrane, Duke Ellington and Sun Ra in the '60s. "It's hard to explain," Chrétien says, "but it's definitely music that's meant to elevate the soul. It's more impressionist, meditative, introspective."

Unlike Chrétien's main outlet, Souljazz Orchestra, the music of Atlantis is not designed for the dance floor, nor to comment on any political situation.

"With Souljazz, there's a lot of pressure to keep people moving, keep 'em dancing," says Chretien. "It's hard when I feel like writing something a little different. This allows me to explore other kinds of sonorities that I wouldn't otherwise have the chance. And sometimes it's OK to step away from politics, too. We're bombarded with the news all the time."

Speaking of Souljazz, Ottawa's funkiest exports have been staying close to home this winter, thanks in part to the birth of Chrétien's first child with his wife, singer-percussionist Marielle Rivard, who's also a member of Souljazz.

Born Sept. 1, their son has sparked a flurry of productivity in his father. "I'm getting a lot less sleep than I used to," Chrétien says, "but it's funny as a composer, how it's really fuelled my creativity."

As a result, both bands are gearing up for a busy year. A new Souljazz album is scheduled for a September release, followed by a world tour. There's also new material in the works for Atlantis, and plans to hit the jazz festival circuit this summer.

One thing that tends to fall by the wayside, at least for Atlantis, is rehearsal time. "We don't rehearse that much, I gotta say," confesses Chrétien. "These guys are at such a level they don't need tons of practice. We practise once every six months or so."

That leaves plenty of parts unscripted. "There are definitely composed parts but also a lot of room for improvisation, which is very rewarding," says Chrétien. "Every night is a little bit different. Sometimes things can throw you a little off guard, but it keeps you on your toes because the songs are different every night."

No matter what direction the groove took, the crowd at Le Petit Chicago lapped it up. So did the thousands of young fans at the Kamasi Washington gig. The unexpected warmth of the response begs the question: Is the time right for a spiritual jazz resurgence?

"I think it is," Chrétien says. "You hear so much trivial music on the radio. Maybe people are thirsty for more."

The Pie at Night
December 28th 2016

Oceanic Suite

by Atlantis Jazz Ensemble

Jazz. That’s right, you heard me. Jazz. No, you f**k off. I like Jazz. Like most forms of music, there is a spectrum within jazz, from chillout stuff to headache stuff BUT, there is something in there for everyone. And here is one I’m going to recommend for you: Atlantis Jazz Ensemble. They were formed back in 2013 by two members of the Souljazz Orchestra, who were looking for another avenue to work on some of their more out there modal compositions. That it’s taken them three years to release their debut shows the amount of work that has gone into honing and perfecting it. Oceanic Suite is a seven-part concept album depicting the sea and other nautical themes. Fans of Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock won’t be disappointed.

Magazine Paris DJs
par Nicolas Ragonneau
Juillet 2016
Paris, France

Oceanic Suite
(CD/LP/Digital) Marlow Records

Deux des musiciens du Souljazz Orchestra s'échappent pour un projet parallèle en quintet baptisé Atlantis Jazz Ensemble, et c'est une réussite totale. Ici, pas de grooves afro-funk et de morceaux dansants, mais des instrumentaux mélancoliques et nocturnes dans la grande tradition du jazz modal, ésotérique ou spirituel. Un disque intemporel, un classique instantané qui s'achève par une composition sublime, "Aegean Mist". Pour les amateurs d'Alice Coltrane, de Mulatu Astatke ou de Matthew Halsall.

Dusty Groove
April 2016
Chicago IL

A wonderful record from a really timeless group – a contemporary combo, but one who play in the best spiritual jazz modes of the 70s – in a way that really lives up to the vintage vibe of the album's cover! These guys have a long, flowing approach to their tunes – building them up with modal energy that rings out with some great Fender Rhodes alongside the bass and drums – and with basslines that are especially strong, and keep a pulse that seems to allow all the other musicians a great amount of creative freedom, while still hanging onto a groove! Zakari Frantz plays some wonderful alto sax – often with the soaring, soulful qualities of a tenor – and the group also features bold trumpet lines from Ed Lister, Fender Rhodes from Pierre Chretien, bass from Alex Bilodeau, and drums from Mike Essoudry. The first we've ever heard from this group – but we'll bet we'll be hearing more soon! Titles include "Pillars Of Hercules", "Ebb & Flow", "Blue Nile", "Agean Mist", and "Leviathan".

FIP, Radio-France
Avril 2016
Paris, France

Album jazz de la semaine
Atlantis Jazz Ensemble "Oceanic Suite"
Avril 2016 - Marlow Records

Le quintette Atlantis Jazz Ensemble sort un premier album magnifique, dont l'inspiration se situe quelque part entre les rives de l’Afrique, de l’Europe, et des Amériques.

Après les tribulations afro jazz soul de son sextuor The Souljazz Orchestra, le pianiste Canadien Pierre Chrétien continue ses explorations musicales avec son projet Atlantis Jazz Ensemble. Un projet purement jazz créé en 2013 avec le saxophoniste Zakari Frantz et enregistré avec le trompettiste Ed Lister, le contrebassiste Alex Bilodeau et le batteur Mike Essoudry. Le quintette a sorti l'album "Oceanic Suite" le 15 avril sur le label du pianiste Marlow Records.

Toutes écrites par Pierre Chrétien, les sept pièces de ce très conceptuel "Oceanic Suite" nous invitent á un voyage initiatique et spirituel où le meilleur du jazz modal croise avec finesse swing et groove des années Blue Note, envolées ethio-jazz ou inspirations folles du jazz européen des années 70. Pas de démonstration inutile ici, les cuivres sont á l'unisson d'une rythmique aussi maîtrisée qu'efficace. Une première oeuvre magnifique !

Le Droit
par Guy Badeaux
17 avril 2016
Ottawa ON

CRITIQUE / Accompagné de Zakari Frantz au sax alto, Ed Lister à la trompette, Alex Bilodeau à la contrebasse et Mike Essoudry à la batterie, le pianiste et compositeur Pierre Chrétien nous livre sur Oceanic Suite un jazz instrumental de grande qualité.

D'une facture classique, les sept pièces instrumentales, aux tempos variés, mettent tour à tour en valeur chacun des musiciens. Membre du Souljazz Orchestra avec Zakari Frantz, Pierre Chrétien fonde avec lui en 2013 le Atlantis Jazz Ensemble. Le duo s'adjoint trois partenaires, avec qui ils peaufineront leur répertoire lors de résidences au Petit Chicago dans le Vieux-Hull. Le résultat, publié sous leur propre label, Marlow Records, est sorti en vinyle, CD et en format numérique.

Le disque sera lancé le 30 avril au Mercury Lounge à Ottawa.

Captured Passion
by Alistair Maitland
November 17th 2011
Toronto ON

Slim Moore and the Mar-Kays @ El Mocambo

I must admit I had high expectations for this show... and I wasn't disappointed.

Slim Moore and the Mar-Kays is a soul group and project of one of my favourite bands, The Souljazz Orchestra based out of Ottawa, Ontario. Knowing this last fact made my attendance a sure thing. I used to dance three hours straight to Souljazz every Thursday for months at their mainstay, Babylon. So needless, to say, this review is a little biased. And I'm OK with that. The group was opening the fourth annual Nujazz Festival.

The Music

Gary "Slim" Moore and the crew definitely impressed. The music was tight, and the vocals stunning. This was the group's Toronto CD Release Party. Everybody was dressed to the nines. "Donny" the sound engineer did a great job with the levels. Mary Caruso, the only female of the group held her own easily against the musical backdrop of her seven male counterparts, opening the set with few tracks of her own. I had heard Mary sing many times before but having gone to the Yukon for the better part of 2 years, I hadn't heard her in a while. Now I don't know what she's been doing. That woman looked, sang and performed like a diva. Then Slim took over the lead vocals and belted it out with a passion only soul can create.

Special mention definitely has to go out to the Soul Motivators that opened for the headlining Mar-Kays. They got the crowd prepped and loose.

Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays, Introducing Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays:

Dusty Groove
August 2011
Chicago IL

One of the best new funk albums we've heard in years – and one that really does an amazing job of putting equal emphasis on instrumentation and deep soul vocals! Slim Moore comes across like some lost singer from the early 70s funky 45 generation – gritty and upfront, with a quality that's instantly infectious – almost like Syl Johnson during his Twinight years! Then the Mar-Kays play with this depth that's equally wonderful – mixing funky licks with more complicated soul touches – some of the vibes we've been getting from the Daptone scene in recent years – slower grooves mixed with faster ones, touches of hip instrumentation, like vibes – all wrapped up in a production style that really recalls the best days of indie soul. The whole thing's wonderful – a record we'd put right up there with Lee Fields' My World, or the Charles Bradley full-length – and a set we'll be digging for years! Titles include "How Long", "Cityscape", "Slim's Theme", "Reachin Higher", "Mar-Kays Theme", "Cool Breeze", and Help Me Now".

Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays, Introducing Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays:

CD Baby Music Discovery
October 4th 2011

You could close your eyes and drop the needle on this debut album from Ottawa's Slim Moore and the Mar-Kays and imagine that you'd dug it out of some dusty bin in the back of some second-hand record shop. But what a find! Slim himself sings like the soul of Otis Redding and James Brown are fighting for control of his vocal cords. And he's backed up by one of the premier Afrobeat bands in the world — the Souljazz Orchestra, AKA for this project, the Mar-Kays. This was recorded entirely analog to an eight track tape machine, so grab the Vinyl version for audiophile, all-analog bliss.

Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays, Introducing Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays:

Soul Tracks
October 15th 2011, USA
by Howard Dukes

There has always been a connection between Stax and Motown Records in the minds of hard-core music fans. Both labels played a pivotal role in crafting the sound of the 1960s and early 1970s. Stax and Motown became synonymous with soul and blues music. The artists of both labels went on to become household names. Still, Stax often languished in the shadow of Motown because the latter label had more of an eye on making music that could cross over. Stax's biggest star, Otis Redding, died tragically right at the moment when he became Stax's first crossover super star.

Of course, good music has a way of finding an audience, and the people at Stax made more than their share of good music. Other musicians were always aware of the label's virtues, so it's not surprising that the Stax influence can be heard in the work of artists ranging from Jamie Lidell and Anthony Hamilton to Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings. The fact that Canadian soul man Slim Moore was also listening to the sound of Memphis becomes clear after one listen to Introducing Slim Moore & the Mar Kays. This record features all of the elements that earned Stax the well deserved nickname of Soulville.

The ultra-funky horns that were a Stax signature punctuate every song on Introducing. Moore's throaty vocals move from being the prophetic social preacher on social commentary tunes such as “Cityscape,” “Just Can't Get Ahead,” as well as the cover version of “Is It Because I'm Black.” He slips into a laid-back Virginia beach music groove on the cut “Riverside Drive,” and engages in a little begging on the Memphis meets hip-hop jam “How Long.” That number shows that Slim Moore & the Mar Kays can adapt the classic Stax sound to incorporate some contemporary production techniques. Still, Introducing Slim Moore & the Mar Kays stands as a full-throated celebration of the time and place that gave us some of the greatest music ever produced. And the tracks on this record hold their own with their lauded predecessors, both in terms of the feel and the quality. A very worthy introduction. Highly Recommended.

Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays, Introducing Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays:

le 8 septembre 2011
Paris France

Le Souljazz Orchestra qui mute en groupe à costard pour un album de soul orchestrée. Les fans du Black Moses Isaac, de Superfly Curtis ou de Bobby 110th Street en auront les larmes aux yeux.

Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays, Introducing Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays:

le 6 septembre 2011

Et pour commencer peut-être la plus grosse nouveauté de cette rentrée : Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays. Derrière ce nom qui nous rappelle les plus belles années du label Stax, se cache en fait le groupe afro-funk Souljazz Orchestra accompagné d'un soulman d'origine jamaïcaine. Un disque soul de haute volée, avec une orchestration chiadée et un concept maîtrisé! On adore!

Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays, Introducing Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays:

Magazine Soul Bag
par Franck Cochon
Septembre 2011
Paris, France

Le revival vintage qui sévit depuis quelques années offre désormais un large choix de productions actuelles à la saveur d'autrefois. Funk aux breakbeats furieux, soul 60's ou 70's, R&B inspiré directement par Detroit et sa Motown, il y en a presque pour tout le monde. Presque. Car celui qui aime déguster une soul richement arrangée, une soul orchestrée, avec des cuivres en trombe et des tapis de cordes, une soul avec un mix qui fourmille de détails – un piano, un vibraphone, un choeur féminin planqué – sans pour autant se faire engloutir par trop de sophistication; celui-là est bien malheureux. Il peut se rabattre sur "I Learned The Hard Way" de Sharon Jones et quoi d'autre? Sauf erreur ou omission, rien. Plus maintenant, plus depuis Slim Moore And The Mar-Kays. Jusqu'alors connus pour leur activisme afrobeat en pantalons bariolés, les Canadiens du Souljazz Orchestra se sont mués le temps d'un album en groupe de soul compact bien décidé à redorer un blason plus trop lustré depuis des décennies. Recrue de Slim, chanteur à la voix plus granuleuse que veloutée, ouverture de nouveaux postes dans la section cuivres, embauche de violonistes, les choses ont été faites en grand. Mais surtout bien. Car si les influences sont évidentes et assumées – Curtis Mayfield, en solo comme avec The Impressions, Isaac Hayes des ambiances cinématographiques, Bobby Womack –, la façon avec laquelle tout est assimilé pour nourrir des compositions originales comme pour ripoliner aux cuivres "Is It Because I'm Black?" de Syl Johnson, impose de fait Slim et ses Kays comme un challenger de taille pour les labels de Brooklyn qui ont fait de la soul et du funk vintage leur chose exclusive. Passer à côté de cet album serait une erreur. Grave en plus.

Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays, Introducing Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays:

par Julien
le 16 septembre 2011
Paris, France

Vous qui avez été séduit par le combo Canadien Souljazz Orchestra, dont les shows sur-vitaminés et la section de cuivre en ont fait suer plus d'un(e), vous allez être content d'apprendre que ce sont les mêmes qui se cachent derrière ce projet, qui, pour faire court: dépote!

Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays viennent grossir les rangs du revival soul & funk auquel on assiste depuis plusieurs années déjà. Je vois déjà mes détracteurs souffler, il y a des dizaines d'orchestres qui sortent et flirte avec cette scène, un de plus, à quoi bon? Eh bien écoutez ça les amis, parce que si les foules ont accordées leurs violons sur les récents et justifiés succès d'Aloe Black, Sharon Jones et ses Dap Kings, ou encore cette farce de Ben l'oncle qui m'soule, je ne vois pas pourquoi mister Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays ne reprendraient pas le flambeau de cette sus-citée scène!

En trois passes décisives et un "smatch", voilà pourquoi je mise sur cette petite troupe de surdoués:

1/ Service & échauffement.

Roulement de caisse claire, et on démarre sur un titre mid-tempo d'où transpire une guitare wahwah. On croirait du Curtis Mayfield jusqu'au moment où Slim Moore attaque le micro. Là c'est plutôt du côté de Bobby Womack et de la BO de Across 110th Street qu'il faut lorgner. La solide rythmique basse/batterie roule solidement, et laisse l'espace à la section de cuivre, cordes, et vibraphones, de venir se présenter, tranquillement, laissant présager que le reste de cet album aux arrangements tout aussi "catchy" que "classieux", semble être une sacrée bonne surprise.

2/ Attaques diverses, ça monte au filet.

On continue, avec un Slim qui, avant d'être tombé dans cette marmite de "soul", fut apparemment un habitué des sounds systems de Montréal (le bonhomme est d'origine jamaïcaine). "How Long" pourrait démarrer comme un brulot hip-hop, mais c'est un virage digne d'Isaac Hayes, (période Hot Buttered Soul) que prennent le chanteur et son groupe. Choeurs féminins, cuivres & cordes en parfaites harmonies, c'est bien les "lascars" de Souljazz Orchestra qui sont à la manoeuvre. Ces gars là sont assez présents pour que Slim Moore ne soit pas relégué au rôle du chanteur Superstar, mais sont également assez "courtois" pour lui laisser la place qu'il mérite à certains moments. Le grain de voix (tout juste) rugueux qu'il possède, vous transporte directement dans les sessions du grand Syl Johnson, lors de ses années pour Twinight!

3/ Retours aux fondamentaux.

Puisqu'on parle de lui, justement, nous y voici: "Is It Because I'm Black", avec des arrangements sensiblement différents de l'original et un peu plus loin le "Mar-Kays' Theme", un instrumental qui sonne comme un morceau d'ouverture d'une "soul revue" à venir (tournée européenne du groupe au printemps). S'en suit un "Reachin' Higher" fiévreux, où riffs de cuivres & percussions nous rappellent aux bons souvenirs de "Mista President" des Souljazz Orchestra, cru 2007!

4/ Jeu, set & match!

Envie de danser, de crier, de savourer cette soul et ce funk du meilleur cru. Bien loin des productions qui fleurent parfois le plat réchauffé, les "cousins" canadiens ont misé sur un registre qu'ils maîtrisent à la perfection. Cet album qui se termine sur l'envoûtant "Help Me Now" ainsi qu'un instrumental aux effluves jazz funk, trouvera, j'en suis sûr, un public avide de cette soul venue du passé mais définitivement ancrée dans le futur!

A vous de jouer maintenant... La balle est dans votre camp il me semble!

Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays, Introducing Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays:

Planète Jazz 91,9 FM
Septembre 2011
Montréal QC

Comme l'ont fait Sharon Jones et Lee Fields à New York, Slim Moore est un des dignes représentants canadiens du renouveau soul. Avec beaucoup de vécu, de cuivres et de sueur.

Copyright © 2016 Marlow Records. All rights reserved.