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L' ORCHESTRE SYMPATHIQUE

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Canada


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L' Orchestre Sympathique biography
This quartet started in 75 by playing what was called progressive jazz, but can easily also be classified as Jazz-rock/fusion, as they had many different influences. Leader Vibraphonist/percussioniste Jean Vanasse and keys/flute manFrancois Richard developed a very percussive sound not unlike fellow Quebecois Maneige, not surprisingly though as the two groups shared the same roots in Lasting Weep, an early 70's group. But when comparing the two groups, by the time L' Orchestre Sympathique had released their first album in 79, Maneige was close to the end of their career, releasing their second last. As a matter of fact, all three albums L'Orchestre Sympathique ever released were live albums with some tracks over-lapping on the different albums. Unable to get a record deal, they organized the live recording of their debut for in concert where the admission price included a copy of the future album.

The group played throughout the world from 81 until their demise in 86, having moved to Paris, but their line-up was never stable especially in the bassist dept. Both Vanasse and Richard have solo careers and are still around today, and they played a reunion concert in 04 at the Montreal IJF.


Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
Similar to the superb Maneige


Discography:
En Concert A La Grande Passe (79)
Live In Detroit (80)
Live at the Montreal JazzFestival (81)

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L' ORCHESTRE SYMPATHIQUE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.23 | 27 ratings
En concert la grande passe
1979

L' ORCHESTRE SYMPATHIQUE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.10 | 2 ratings
L'Orchestre Sympathique Live In Detroit
1980
3.00 | 1 ratings
L'OS au Festival International de Jazz de Montreal
1981

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L' ORCHESTRE SYMPATHIQUE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 En concert  la grande passe by ORCHESTRE SYMPATHIQUE, L' album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.23 | 27 ratings

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En concert la grande passe
L' Orchestre Sympathique Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars L'ORCHESTRE SYMPATHIQUE was a Jazz quartet founded in November 1976 by classicaly trained vibraphonist / percussionist Jean Vanasse, flautist / pianist Francois Richard, and drummer Mathieu Leger.They were joined by various bass players over the years.They released three live albums over their careers including this one recorded live at the La Grande Passe in April of 1979.They never could secure a record deal so there were no studio albums released unfortunately.The band would eventually move to Paris, France and toured Europe extensively from 1981-1985.They did reunite for one show at the Montreal International Jazz Festival in 2004. I must admit that after a few casual listenes I thought this was too flutey (is that a word?) but after some careful listens man I was so impressed with everything about this recording.The flute is prominant but the drumming is incredible ! And the bass is very deep and snarly. Just a very cool album overall. Love the cover art too.

"Citronnade" has this very presice and crisp drumming with lots of vibes and flute. It changes before 5 minutes as the percussion and drums lead and the flute settles back.Vibes and bass a minute later then the flute takes the lead again. Some vocal melodies too then back the original soundscape. "Houmalaya" opens with percussion, vibes and drums. Flute and bass before 1 1/2 minutes. It then settles with flute leading. A drum show after 5 minutes then the bass joins in after 6 1/2 minutes followed by flute and vibes. "Des Lacs, Des Rivieres, De Ruisseaux" is more of the same really and I like the chunky bass 2 minutes in. A calm 3 1/2 minutes in then it kicks back in a minute later.

"Perpetual Balouba" has this avant intro which is chaotic but very good. Piano in this one too.Vibes and drums take over as we get some growly bass and piano that come and go. Piano leads 2 1/2 minutes in then the vibes and drums return. Flute before 7 minutes. "Biplane" opens with flute then someone starts speaking to the audience as the flute stops.The flute returns when he's done speaking and it's quite spacey. Bass comes in and it's so impressive. It settles after 5 minutes with more spacey flute and sparse bass. Such a great track.

There must have been something in the water in Quebec in the seventies because there were so many talented bands. No just a lot of talent in that province. And this band was one of the best.

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 En concert  la grande passe by ORCHESTRE SYMPATHIQUE, L' album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.23 | 27 ratings

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En concert la grande passe
L' Orchestre Sympathique Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars Another good thing coming out of Quebec, Canada.

The Quebec scene in the 1970s was an excellent scene with Maneige as the bright shining light. Close behind them was this band. Very close, quality wise.

There is no denying that Maneige is the main reference when it comes to describing this album. An album which is not a studio album, btw. It is a live album. To my knowledge, this band never released a studio album. But the excellent sound on this live album sounds like it has had a some doctoring in a studio. The sound is simply too good for being a true live rendition from the 1970s. But whatever they have done, they have not killed the edge this album has. It is a highly vibrant album which is bound to make any fusion fan happy.

I mentioned Maneige here. I would also list Soft Machine, Hatfield & The North, National Health and Gilgamesh as good references for this album. The music is very playfully Canterbury like throughout this live performance. There is even some avant-garde stuff here just to spice up the music a bit..... make that a lot, actually. The music is also keyboards, guitars and flute based with some excellent musicianship.

The quality is great throughout this album. The highlight of the album is the Soft Machine esque Des lacs, des rivires, des ruisseaux. But the other songs is also of the same standard. In short; this album is a hidden gem, but well worth the chase. It is a pity that so little is known about this band. Based on this album alone, it must have been a great band.

4 stars

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 En concert  la grande passe by ORCHESTRE SYMPATHIQUE, L' album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.23 | 27 ratings

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En concert la grande passe
L' Orchestre Sympathique Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by debrewguy
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars As I stumble upon more & more RPQ ( Rock Progressig Quebecois) at Spin-It, I constantly marvel at the both the shared influences, AND also at the differences in styles & playing that I encounter among those early groups from the 70s.

L'Orchestre Sympathique is no different. The other reviewers have noted the similarities with Maneige. I feel that the jazz side is a bit more pronounced here. But then I could just as easily say that Maneige had more to their symphonic side.

You'll find some avant moments, like at the beginning of Perpetual Balouba. You'll find a lot of great playing, too. But the most important thing to me , is that I come away with melodies and songs in my head even after I'm done playing this album.

Too often, I find many Jazz Rock / Fusion ensembles go for the gee whiz, did you hear that type of playing that emphasizes the technical abilities of their players, whether it's fast riffs and solos, complex and esoteric strucutres or compositions; as if the effort is dedicated to making things harder than necessary .

L' Orchestre Sympathique on the other hand are able to blend in virtuousity, and complexity while still entertaining the listener with, gasp, songs.

AH, if only I'd have been able to see them live in a club sitting back with a cold one on a Friday night .....

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 En concert  la grande passe by ORCHESTRE SYMPATHIQUE, L' album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.23 | 27 ratings

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En concert la grande passe
L' Orchestre Sympathique Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by The Rock

5 stars For those into percussion-led fusion of international caliber such as Pierre Moerlen's Gong,Brand-X or fellow countryman Maneige,this is a treat! Marvellous production despite limited budget and the fact that it is a live recording.All the instruments can be heard clearly.Good use of stereo panning makes the sound loud,crisp and clear.The albums sounds like a ton of bricks! I belive the good peoples at ProgQuebec may have a thing or two to do with this fact as they usually do a great job with their re-issues. Not a duff track on this winner,all are different,showing many aspects of the band,be it spacyness,speed,dexterity,emotions,ect... The flute playing is breathy,recalling Anderson's style but there's no real similitude with Tull.Vibes and percussions are also highlited and are used to good effect,expanding the band's sound and filling the gap normally used by guitars. An unusual configuration to say the least;flute,vibes,drums and bass with very little keyboard and no guitars makes this band quite unique. Despite obvious comparisons with above mentionned bands,this is quite original and recommended for those into the jazzier yet progressive side of things.

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 En concert  la grande passe by ORCHESTRE SYMPATHIQUE, L' album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.23 | 27 ratings

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En concert la grande passe
L' Orchestre Sympathique Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Rainer Rein

4 stars "Wow - L'Orchestre Sympathique is represented in the Archives!", rejoices the child in my body... Yes - I ordered "En Concert..." on CD after visiting the homepage of ProgQuebec because I found this one my favourite release (and personal discovery) of ProgQuebec (all in all - my personal fave of Rock-related-music done in Quebec is still Maneige's first LP from 1975)!

Well - when we look at this music of L'Orchestre Sympathique (what a wonderful name of the band) it would seem like quite usual jazz but... what an intelligent soundspectrum - the most of these thanks could belong maybe to vibraphone player Jean Vanasse - what a gentle music with so beautiful tuned percussion (plus bass, flute, keys and drums)! Haven't heard two later efforts of L'OS (all are live-recordings) but this one is very worth to discover!

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 L'Orchestre Sympathique Live In Detroit by ORCHESTRE SYMPATHIQUE, L' album cover Live, 1980
3.10 | 2 ratings

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L'Orchestre Sympathique Live In Detroit
L' Orchestre Sympathique Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3,5 stars really!!!

Just like their first album, this was also recorded live, but this time The French Canadian state radio taped and produced the album. A bit surprisingly, they chose this gig just across the Canadian border, but anyway it is quite a stellar concert. As with their debut album, L'OS realized that recording their gigs was definitely the cheapest way to release their album, something that was currently done frequently (as with their rivals Aquarelle) , as jazz-rock groups were having a harder time finding record labels and producers for their music. The line-up is the same as on the debut album, and there is one track common to both albums, but this version is much longer and fairly different. The second track Houmalaya is a continuation of the track of their debut album. So this second album is made almost of entirely new material.

The opening pure-jazz track is the exception before L'OS takes you on the superb path of their fabled philosopher Houmalaya's travels and ultimate disillusions. L'OS was a very percussive group and therefore does not escape the lengthy drum solo (something seemingly obligatory of the musical genre), but the track is impressive with its funky bass. Queeche Valley (or is it Quiche?) is much closer to what Maneige (around Libre Service) did a few years before them and where still doing now. Perpetual Balouba is almost twice the length it was on the debut album and received a colder treatment than previously a bit in the Coltrane style. Closing Bulle De Gin is another showcase for Vanasse's tuned percussions and a charmer. Vanasse is a much less demonstrative player than Benoit Moerlen (of Gongzilla fame) but just as much a virtuoso. I do find this album not quite as good as their debut, but certainly not less progressive, simply much jazzier that rock.

Unfortunately L'OS, Aquarelle and Maneige never achieved the commercial success of their countrymen Uzeb, whom I found MUCH less interesting: the public's reaction is always a bit of a wonder. Never released on Cd, this album is rather hard to get at, and strangely enough, might just be easier to get on the old world as after their third (and last) live album, l'OS will relocate in Paris and regularly gig there until 86, without recording anymore. Vanasse and Richard are still playing nowadays and "recently" did a reunion gig.

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 En concert  la grande passe by ORCHESTRE SYMPATHIQUE, L' album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.23 | 27 ratings

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En concert la grande passe
L' Orchestre Sympathique Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

5 stars L'OS (as they are frequently known) is a group that has roots into such ancient bands as Lasting Weep (early 70's and where Maneige also originated) but for some reason never managed to secure a recording deal. So sick of this situation that they decided to produce their own album themselves by organizing a concert where the entrance fee gave you the right to a copy of the album once it was released. Their contempt for the recording industry is well shown by depicting the Grammophon label and the famous His Master's Voice spoof cover. And on the inside sleeve was marked all of the co- producers of the album, most namely the name of everyone that attended the concerts (4 in all)>> this was certainly an original way to get their album done.

And what an album this baby is!!! Clearly this debut album certainly rivals with Maneige's best works both in their early style of les porches and the later style of Libre Service. Citronnade (lemonade) is an amazing showcase for Franois Ricard's flute talents and Vanasse's superb Vibe playing. Houmalaya is the first part of their fabled Tibetan philosopher (you get plenty of far-eastern influences) and this track alone was worth the price of admission to the concert: grandiose!! Even the obligatory drum solo is good and certainly not overstaying its welcome. Their jazz-rock is always on the verge of classical, ethnic, jazz and rock music >> true fusion if I ever heard it.

The second wax slice side is more of that superb same and is a feast for your ears. Lacs is a scorching beauty, with Vanasse's vibes taking the cake with Richard's flute being the icing. Stolow's funky-jazz bass is also at the forefront on this track. At the halfway mark of the track, they suddenly drop a stunningly quiet interlude sounding like the Swiss quartet Circus on Movin' On's Dawn, before suddenly picking up again: awesome is the word. Vanasse's playing is reminiscent of Circus Fritz Hauser. Perpetual Balouba is a very moody track traveling up and down the chilled-out spine - this track will get a much harder treatment in their following album. The album is closing on the absolutely delightful Biplane.

Certainly one of the more stunning debut album in jazz-rock around that tilme, this album is simply a must, especially if you love Maneige's best works. This album got a recent released by the excellent label ProgQuebec and strongly deserves encouragement by you buying this incredible album.

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Thanks to Sean Trane for the artist addition.

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