The Le Boeuf Brothers return to Santa Cruz to play music as only identical twins can
Every musician should be so lucky as to have a twin sibling. Case in point: former Santa Cruzans Pascal and Remy Le Boeuf, aka The Le Boeuf Brothers, a pair of 23-year-old identical twins currently making a name for themselves in the New York jazz scene.
Pascal, the keyboardist of the duo, explains that he and his brother have a natural musical rapport. Likening music to a conversation, he offers, “If I bring up a certain subject—for example, I might play a mood D minor vamp—then we both might think of the same things to respond to that. Remy might have an idea of what would work over that, and I might have a similar idea.”
The twins’ like-mindedness is evident in their verbal conversations as well as their musical ones. “Pascal’s probably having a very difficult time not finishing my sentences for me right now,” laughs Remy, the alto saxophonist of The Le Boeuf Brothers. In explanation of this phenomenon, he adds, “When you grow up with somebody, and you’ve known them since before you were born—in the womb—you’ve shared a lot of experiences.”
Pascal chimes in with a vivid illustration of his brother’s point. “I might associate mint chip ice cream with llamas for some reason. If Remy’s standing next to me, he might have the same association. If we see a llama, we both want to eat mint chip ice cream.”
The Le Boeuf Brothers, who lived in Santa Cruz for the first 18 years of their lives before moving to New York in 2004, will perform at Don Quixote’s on Sunday, Dec. 27. Joined by drummer Michael Davis, they will be playing selections from their latest album, House without a Door, which finds the twins joined by two different backup bands—one consisting of a younger group of jazz musicians whom The Le Boeuf Brothers consider peers, and the other comprised of such seasoned New York jazz artists as tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and drummer Clarence Penn. “Code Word,” one of Pascal’s compositions from the album, took first place in the Jazz category of the 2008 International Songwriting Competition. Other Le Boeuf Brothers tunes have won awards from ASCAP, Downbeat magazine, ISC, and the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (NFAA).
Though Pascal says his inspiration for songs usually comes from emotional experiences, he stresses the importance of balancing emotionality with conceptual content. “I might try to find something that’s intellectually stimulating to use as a theme and then try to add those feelings into it,” he explains. For instance, the title track on House without a Door is based on polyrhythms (two or more rhythms juxtaposed): The song is in 7/4 (seven beats per measure), but the melody implies five beats per measure. “And what happens is, one is underlying, so it’s in seven with five over it, and then it’ll switch to five with seven over it,” Pascal says.
The music on House without a Door isn’t traditional jazz. Pascal explains that he and Remy are big fans of Bjork, Radiohead and “numerous other alternative rock bands. So we borrow from that harmonic language a lot, as well as some classical influence.”
Such crossover might seem like an attempt to appeal to the broadest audience possible, but Remy claims otherwise. “I don’t think we’re making such an effort to be accessible, but if that’s a result, then great,” he states.
Not surprisingly, the twins are of one mind on this issue. After waiting patiently for his brother to finish his sentence, Pascal notes, “We figure that if we like to listen to something, and if we’re honest with our own musical tastes and the things that we like, other people will probably like it, too.”
Photo Credit: Adria
The Le Boeuf Brothers play at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 27, at Don Quixote’s, 6275 Highway 9, Felton. Tickets are $10. For more information, call 603-2294.
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