Yves Léveillé, pianist, composer, GD / AD of Les Productions Yves Léveillé
Recipient of the Spacq Foundation’s Prix André Gagnon (instrumental music) in 2018, the musician is recognized both for his compositions and arrangements and for his many musical collaborations with leading jazzmen, singers, songwriters, actors and directors. Pianist and composer Yves Léveillé is also the founder of Productions Yves Léveillé, an organization dedicated to the production and presentation of contemporary jazz concerts. Supported by various levels of government, the artistic company is constantly multiplying its activities (concerts production, tours, albums). Sometimes in search of the dream phrasing, sometimes cerebral, sometimes lyrical, Léveillé works obstinately in search of jazz beauty.
Originally from Lévis, Quebec, Canada, Yves Léveillé – who has lived in Montreal since 1984 – decided in the 90s to create his own ensemble to perform his own compositions. He has produced ten original albums, available on the Effendi record and ATMA classique labels. All have been favorably received by critics and music lovers alike. He is regularly asked to perform his work in Canada, Asia, Europe and the United States. Here are a few highlights from his career.
In 2004, he was awarded a CALQ grant for a six-month residency at the Studio of Québec in New York. Another residency awarded by CALQ and the Banff Centre for the Arts enabled him to devote three months to creation in autumn 2007.
In 2010, the release of his fifth album, Pianos (FND100), highlights his inspired complicity with Japanese pianist Eri Yamamoto. This highly successful piano duo project was supported by Yamaha New York. In autumn 2012, thanks to support from CALQ and the New York State Council on the Arts, Yves Léveillé is able to continue his collaborative work with his partner in Manhattan, notably with drummer Ikuo Takeuchi.
The second album released in 2010, Chorégraphie (FND103) retraces the pianist’s creations over the past three years and was selected by Le Devoir newspaper as one of the five best jazz albums of 2010. On this album, Yves Léveillé presents the fruit of his work with some of Quebec’s most inspired jazz musicians.
In 2013, he and pianist François Bourassa took part in the En Trois Couleurs project initiated by the great soloist-percussionist Marie-Josée Simard. Together, they create a veritable peregrination through the meanders of jazz and improvisation tinged with world music. The concert wins top honors in the Concert of the Year | Jazz of the Prix Opus of Québec 2012-2013. The year is also marked by a performance at the inauguration of the Casavant organ in Quebec City, and the pianist/composer is discovered by a wider audience thanks to the album Par amour pour Philou, recorded for the benefit of the Centre Philou and named Best Album of the Year – Instrumental by ADISQ.
Prolific, Léveillé releases in February 2014 his album Essences des bois (FND131) devoted to instruments of the woodwind family wandering between jazz and today’s classical music, an album nominated at ADISQ (best jazz creation album 2014). Essences des bois won the Prix Opus 2013-2014 in the Concert of the Year | Jazz – World Music category. After touring with Paul McCandless (a great American multi-instrumentalist and unrivalled jazz improviser), he was keen to demonstrate that woodwinds, which are normally hushed, can produce assertive, invigorating energy. With this septet for flute, oboe, English horn, clarinet, saxophone, piano, double bass and drums, the musician goes off the beaten track, bypassing the usual use of brass instruments, which often predominate in jazz.
In 2015, Yves Léveillé embarked on a new adventure with his New York accomplices Eri Yamamoto and Ikuo Takeuchi with the creation of a series of original compositions inspired by the refined and sophisticated sounds of traditional Japanese musical aesthetics. This cross-cultural marriage, entitled The Japan Project: mémoires & improvisations, premiered at the Alliance française of Toronto in the spring. The autumn will be marked by two international tours by Essences des bois, one to New York with concerts at Lincoln Center’s famous Dizzy’s Club and Flushing Town Hall, and the other to China (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou). Finally, in February 2016, the album En Trois Couleurs released in 2015 on the Atma-Classique label was awarded the Prix Opus 2014-2015 in the Jazz and World Music Album of the Year category.
Yves Léveillé then reunites with Marie-Thérèse Fortin, with whom he has collaborated for many years as piano accompanist and arranger, on the show Marie-Thérèse Fortin chante Barbara. In May 2016, the show was revived for a series of thirteen performances on the Cabaret du Théâtre Outremont stage. In this show, Fortin’s pared-down arrangements are sometimes reminiscent of jazz, sometimes of a world of impressionist colors.
In October 2016, En Trois Couleurs trio ventured into new Chinese lands. Marie-Josée Simard, François Bourassa and Yves Léveillé embark on a major tour, playing a series of concerts in the finest venues of seventeen Chinese cities. This event reached an enthusiastic audience of over 15,000. More recently, in September 2019, the trio returned to China to present the new project The deep tone of the fjord, an ode to Canadian landscapes and wildlife, with Jacques Collin at the helm of design and visual projections.
In May 2017, Yves Léveillé presents Triptyque, a unique event celebrating his 30-year career. The three evenings of contrasting performances will feature a number of jazz stars from the prolific pianist-composer’s career. En Trois Couleurs trio, his new Quintette Phare, and finally Y2 duo with saxophonist Yannick Rieu offer three exceptional evenings from May 10 to 12, 2017 at Théâtre Outremont.
The Bourdonnements Jazz à l’Outremont series (Théâtre Outremont and PYL) premieres in May 2018 as a series of three concerts over three weeks, enabling the pianist and composer-in-residence to invite and give a platform to several Quebec musicians, both established and up-and-coming. The success of the series led to the formula being repeated the following year, this time with one concert per month over 4 months, starting in March. These varied concerts feature local and international artists such as Paul McCandless, Eri Yamamoto, Daniel Mille and Olivier Ker Ourio.
In May 2019 Léveillé releases his new album, Phare, which is nominated for an opus award in the Jazz Album of the Year category. The album is also selected by espace musique as one of the 50 best Canadian albums of all styles (2019).
In April 22, the pianist launches his album l’Échelle du temps for string quintet and piano. The project garnered three nominations at the Prix Opus of the Conseil québécois de la musique on February 5, 23, and won the prestigious “Creation of the Year” award.
Yves Léveillé is General and Artistic Director of Productions Yves Léveillé, an organization dedicated to the production and dissemination of contemporary jazz. In collaboration with Les disques et Effendi and MAtv Montréal, the company has been producing the Jazz@vue TV series since 2022.
L’échelle du temps
The worlds of written classical music and improvised jazz music collide gently in a beautiful confluence of sound and style. It feels wrong to extract the individual parts from the whole as they work so well together, like movements in a symphony or suite. This is one of those “start-to-finish in one sitting” kind of records. It is a stirring journey of the mind.
David Reed – Belleville Intelligencer – 2022
L’échelle du temps is among the heaviest new jazz albums I’ve enjoyed so far in 2022, and we’re spoiled to be able to stream it on all platforms.
Will Chernoff – Rhythm Changes- 2022
Phare is, quite, simply, a remarkable album of jazz compositions skillfully arranged and expertly played. You really should check it out!
Lynn Rene Bayley, Jazz in Europe, June 2019
In the Canadian jazz landscape, Yves Léveillé remains a sure thing, a benchmark of quality, a beacon to which we must continue to be guided.
Frédéric Cardin; Ici musique (Radio-Canada) June 2019
En Trois Couleurs, the eponymous album by the trio formed by Marie-Josée Simard, François Bourassa and Yves Léveillé, is a musical alchemy. The two pianists and the percussionist achieve a subtle and careful fusion of contemporary classical, jazz and world music, opening up a range of possibilities as original as they are colorful.
Richard Boisvert, Le Soleil, september 2015