ATLANTIS JAZZ ENSEMBLE
Atlantis rising anew with Celestial Suite
The Atlantis Jazz Ensemble is on the rise once again with Celestial Suite, a brilliant set of spiritual soul-jazz, with a righteous energy in the mode of some of the best work on independent labels such as Strata East or Tribe back in the day, though updated with a fresh current vibe. With the blend of electric piano, sax, trumpet, bass and percussion presented here, the quintet has refined the searching, soaring quality of their sound, capturing over the course of two days in the studio an inspired session worthy of the skyward promise of the album’s title.
The group was first formed by Pierre Chrétien and Zakari Frantz of The Souljazz Orchestra back in 2013, as an outlet for the more modal, esoteric and spiritual compositions they were exploring outside the confines of their original unit. After the addition of trumpeter Ed Lister, bassist Alex Bilodeau and drummer Mike Essoudry, the Atlantis Jazz Ensemble released their maiden voyage Oceanic Suite in 2016, a bold first outing that became a bit of an underground classic, capturing the number two spot on the Canadian radio jazz charts that year (just behind BadBadNotGood’s IV), and leading Atlantis to open up live for the likes of Kamasi Washington and Anderson Paak.
However, the wind was somewhat taken out of the group’s sails when their original bassist suddenly moved away to Boston to study with Dave Holland, Cecil McBee, and other jazz luminaries. Atlantis sank into hiatus for a few years, until young double bass phenom Chris Pond blew into town from Eastern Canada, and the group rose up once again in 2022. After a fruitful residency in Ottawa’s hip Somerset Village that summer, perfecting the new set of original compositions that were to make up Celestial Suite, the quintet hit Metropolitan Studios in the fall, and laid down an especially inspired rendition of the suite, captured with all of the analogue warmth the studio is known for.
The set flows seamlessly from track to track. Opener “Breaking Dawn” starts things off gently as in a morning sunrise, before settling into a hypnotic modal groove. “Transcendence” then kicks up the tempo with boisterous Afro-Latin rhythms, before heading into the mystic soul-bossa brew of “Enlightenment”. Side A eases off with the pleading soul-jazz of “Invocation”, before ramping things up again on Side B with the ethereal pharoanic groove of “Oneness”. The tension builds on “Blessings”, with its searching, coltranesque modal quality, before easing into the funky, down-home exultations of “Joyful Noise”. The suite then winds down as calmly as it began with a solemn “Meditation”, closing the arc of this skybound journey.
Celestial Suite is the Atlantis Jazz Ensemble’s 2nd album and is released by Marlow Records on LP, CD, and digital / streaming on October 27th 2023. LP format is meticulously pressed in Canada with the new WarmTone fully automatic, modernised vinyl record pressing system, and comes with download card. The Atlantis Jazz Ensemble will be performing album release parties at Le Minotaure in Gatineau QC on October 28th 2023, and at Irene’s in Ottawa ON on November 24th 2023.
1. BREAKING DAWN
7. JOYFUL NOISE
Ed Lister – Trumpet
Zakari Frantz – Alto Sax
Pierre Chrétien – Electric Piano
Chris Pond – Bass
Mike Essoudry – Drums
All compositions by Pierre Chrétien (SOCAN/BMI).
Produced by Jason Jaknunas and Pierre Chrétien.
Recorded at Metropolitan Studios on November 12th and 13th 2022.
Engineered and mastered to Studer B67 2-track by Jason Jaknunas.
Cover photograph by Alisali.
Liner photograph by JC Batista.
Design by Pierre Chrétien.