The virtuosic violinist Aline Homzy – hailed by Jean-Luc Ponty as “sensitive and musical…original” – introduces us to her dazzling musical world on her debut album Éclipse with her group Aline’s étoile magique, out today August 25, 2023 via Elastic Recordings.
The album features Homzy with vibraphonist Michael Davidson (Joe Chambers), guitarist Thom Gill (Knower), Dan Fortin (Bernice) on bass, and Marito Marques (Ivan Lins) on drums, with special guests João Frade on accordion and vocalist Felicity Williams. The 11-track recording was ten years in the making and is a debut that showcases Homzy’s brilliant musicianship and compositional point of view with impressive clarity and maturity.
“Homzy makes music that doesn’t push the boundaries of jazz as much as it blithely and cheerfully ignores them. Her compositions unfold with something like dream logic – they’re genuinely weird but always feel like they make sense while you’re listening…. This is an utterly unique album, and a great one.” – Rick Anderson, CD Hotlist.
“Aline Homzy’s virtuosic violin is dazzling… unique and completely entertaining… Her composition is bold and melodic; forceful and power driven.” – Dee Dee McNeil, Musical Memoirs.
“A spectacular debut.” – Jazz Quad
The virtuosic violinist Aline Homzy introduces us to her dazzling musical world on her debut album Éclipse with her group Aline’s étoile magique. Homzy grew up in Montréal, Québec before moving to Toronto to study jazz. Private studies in New York with violinist Sara Caswell, arranger Sy Johnson (Charles Mingus’ arranger) and Berlin-based pianist/composer Aki Takase had a profound impact on her musical trajectory. Homzy’s father, Andrew Homzy, is a musicologist and an Ellington, Mingus and Monk scholar. These three figures, who occupied much of her father’s interest, greatly influenced her compositions and playing. Intervallic melodies à la Monk, an Ellington-approach to writing for specific musicians, and Mingus-like shifts in tempi and moods are all present in this music. Above all else, Homzy shares the same musical goal that Monk, Mingus and Ellington championed: creating serious music – executed with a sense of playfulness, wit and humor.
As a jazz violinist, Homzy is wary of assumptions people often make before they’ve even heard her play a single note. “I’ve certainly learnt from the great violinists of the genre, like Stéphane Grappelli,” Homzy says. “But it’s important to me to use the tradition as a foundation while shining a more contemporary light on the instrument and its capabilities.” Homzy achieves this modernity by improvising with a fearlessness that highlights the fullness of the violin sound. She doesn’t shy away from bold choices when improvising and takes inspiration from the virtuosity of violinists like Jean-Luc Ponty and Regina Carter.
The album’s opening track “Caraway” highlights Homzy’s boldness in this regard, both as a player and a composer. She describes the tune as “Hermeto Pascoal meets the Mahavishnu Orchestra” with seamlessly blended sections that create a musical world through which the listener is transported. “Éclipse is a universe where I can explore the idea of the unknown,” Homzy says. “I’m fascinated by how we capture otherworldliness in music and sounds. When the sun and moon align during an eclipse, the light changes. How do we translate this visual shift into an aural one?”
Homzy finds the answer to this question by fully utilising the studio as the sixth band member on the album. Effects shape the compositions and alter the textures for variety. The musicians in étoile magique ventured to Kingston, Ontario where they spent a week recording at rock band The Tragically Hip’s studio. Homzy made use of post-production tools to help paint the picture of a vivid universe. On “Mesarthim,” the theremin and synth are manipulated manually to achieve the sensation that the listener is wrapped in the sound. The only cover on the album is Charlie Parker’s “Segment,” which receives a reverberant, “spacey” treatment so that it fits in perfectly with the rest of the tracks.
Homzy takes advantage of the ability to add layers in post-production but she also exercises restraint, aiming to whittle something down to its musical essence. “I always think of that Coco Chanel quote, ‘Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.’ The same can be said for post-production. Add in all the overdubs, take a step back, and remove one thing you added to restore sonic balance.” While Homzy certainly used the studio as a way to explore every possible nook and cranny of the music to maximum effect, the result is never heavy-handed. The lush effect of a well-chosen pad here, the faintest shimmer of a delay there. There is a thoughtfulness that runs throughout, from the structure of the music to the way in which it was arranged and brought to life.
Homzy waited ten years to record her debut album. “I needed that time to mature as a composer and improviser. I also needed to learn how to be concise with my musical statement,” she explains. Éclipse is a testament to taking time and then creating with a laser-sharp focus and intention. Homzy and étoile magique create a richly nuanced musical world where theremins, vibraphones and violins combine to bring the great unknown to life.
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Aline Homzy is an award-winning violinist and composer. Praised as one of Canada’s finest jazz violinists, she has performed and/or recorded with Danilo Perez, Munir Hossn and The Weather Station. Her music has been performed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Swedish guitarist Mikko Hilden, and South-Korean bassist Yongwon Cho. Homzy is also a community builder, with a focus on highlighting women instrumentalists and improvisers. She was the recipient of a 2018 TD Discovery Projects Award that saw her curate a sold-out concert featuring female improvisers at the Canadian Music Centre. During the pandemic, she produced the documentary “Sounds of Davenport,” which aimed to showcase musicians in her community through a beautifully captured video-concert, supported by her political representatives. Homzy has performed at the TD International Toronto Jazz Festival, Festival international de Jazz de Montréal, Stockholm International Jazz Festival, and Daigu – South Korea- International Jazz Festival. She was a finalist for the 2022 Toronto Emerging Jazz Artist Award, and was awarded a distinguished fellowship to attend the prestigious Hambidge Artist Residency in Georgia, USA also in 2022. Her debut album Éclipse features her group “Aline’s étoile magique” and will be released in August 2023, preceded by a 2023 Canadian jazz festival tour.