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Three of a Kind – Episode 54

About Three of a Kind

Playing without a drummer leaves a lot of extra room in your soundscape. It can seem natural to fill it up with comping, melodic fills, or rhythmic hits — but Michael Valeanu, Clovis Nicolas, and Jon Boutellier do the opposite. Rather than constantly churning out notes, the guitar-bass-saxophone trio leaves ample room for a three-way conversation on their latest album, Three of a Kind.

Inspired by the Jimmy Guiffre and Jim Hall trio, Michael opted for a drumless trio where he could better control his dynamics and textures within a group. It’s easier to hear yourself without a drummer, and Michael felt there was more he could convey to the audience in that setting. Clovis and Jon loved the unique instrumentation and jumped on board for the one-day recording session.

Clovis, Jon, and Michael are certainly “three of a kind” — they share a love for jazz, composition, a childhood in France, and a current home in New York City. They compare the two jazz scenes, and amidst the discussion we come to the conclusion: while jazz is more common-place in New York, you certainly don’t have to live there to become a great jazz musician. Thanks to modern technology and the widespread availability of recordings, students across the world are discovering musical giants like Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

Join the conversation with Michael Valeanu, Jon Boutellier, and Clovis Nicolas to learn more about the original compositions and arrangements from their new album, Three of a Kind. Michael Valeanu describes the five-year process of composing “Miroirs,” Jon Boutellier shares his process of unraveling Duke Ellington’s “Reminiscing in Tempo,” and Clovis Nicolas discloses the connection between his song “Minor Thing” and Ellington’s classic “It Don’t Mean a Thing.”

“In this setting, it can feel like you have to fill in the space — like filling in an awkward pause in a conversation. But actually, if you leave the space it makes the notes much more meaningful”

Clovis Nicolas

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Learn more about Michael Valeanu, Jon Boutellier, and Clovis Nicolas on their websites, You can find Three of a Kind anywhere you stream music.

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