La Scena Musicale

Monday, December 24, 2007

Au Rayon du disque décembre 2007 / Off the Record December 2007

par / by Charles Collard, Félix-Antoine Hamel, Paul Serralheiro

Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet : The Middle Picture
Firehouse 12 FH12-04-01-002
Although cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum includes a version of Miles Davis' "In A Silent Way" in this his latest album, he is far from a Davisian clone; his use of growls and all kinds of muted sounds would rather place him firmly in the post-Ellington camp. A frequent collaborator (and former student) of Anthony Braxton, Bynum explores various structures and sound textures in The Middle Picture, with help from Matt Bauder (reeds), Mary Halvorson (guitar) and Jessica Pavone (viola, bass)-all members of Braxton's large ensemble as well-plus guitarist Evan O'Reilly and drummer Tomas Fujiwara. This dynamic, guitar-heavy and sometimes noisy group is also capable of beautiful moments, like the reworking of Billy Strayhorn's "Bluebird Of Delhi" from Duke Ellington's Far East Suite, and the cuban-like figure that closes the following mm(pf). The most ambitious piece here is the three-part "JP & the Boston Suburbs," which starts with a floating conversation between brass, saxophone and guitars, turns into a percussion statement by Fujiwara, then segues into a ferocious guitar interlude, with thematic interpolation by the horns. The third part ("aka Knit & Swim") has more of a Braxtonian theme. The sparser trio of Bynum, Halvorson and Fujiwara is also featured, both opening and closing this album, recommended to anyone interested in the future of jazz. (Bynum, Pavone, Halvorson and Fujiwara also form a touring collective named The Thirteenth Assembly, which will appear in town on December 6 at the Casa Del Popolo.) FAH

A Pair of Threes
Wilson/Lee/Bentley : Escondido Dreams
Drip Audio DA00206
This disc will surprise most listeners, as this is no ordinary guitar trio. From the instrumentation (guitar, cello, saxophone) to the approach to textures, form and melodies, this is a creative encounter of distinct voices on the Vancouver improvised music scene. Tony Wilson's guitar is unlike any other for its ability to go from mellow to monstrous and many shades in between, as in the delicate orientalisms of "Laxing Lizards Resume" and the growling sound-effects of "Floating Island." Cellist Peggy Lee brings her usual contemplative playing, as well as many an adventurous streak in her sound conception. Saxophonist Bentley, the youngest of the group, has a lyrical, light touch that fits in perfectly as a contrasting voice against the intensity of Wilson's keening guitar and the wizardry of Lee's cello. The melodic material can be described as musing and meditative, but comes across in a variety of tempi and forms, all boldly coloured by the different personalities of the musicians. Despite some moments of directionless meandering in the solos, there is a refreshing dose of exciting risk-taking. PS

NHØP Trio : The Unforgettable NHØP Trio Live
ACT 9464-2
No one would contest the claim that the late Danish jazzman Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen was a major voice on the bass. His passing in 2005 at age 58 was a sad loss for jazz. This disc features the bassist's trio in live settings: in Denmark in 1999 and in Germany in 2005, about a month before his sudden passing. It is nice to hear the bass take the melody as often as it does, from the opening "The Bach Piece," to "The Song is You" and "Our Love is Here to Stay." Pedersen sounds just as good on the two Scandinavian folk songs included here. As for his trio cohorts, they are accomplished musicians who can keep up with their leader, though they do not match the individuality of his voice. Having played together for the last 10 years of the bassist's life, this unit is both cohesive and tight. Guitarist Ulf Wakenius for one has some burning moments, as in his own scorching "Lines," and some imaginative solos throughout, although he gets a little predictable in spots. Drummer Jonas Johansen has a nice light way with swing, with a few surprising splashes of colour and unexpected accents along the way. PS

Yannick Rieu : Saint-Gervais
Justin Time JTR 8356-2
L'un des saxophonistes les plus remarquables du jazz d'ici, Yannick Rieu ne s'est jamais gêné pour afficher ses affinités avec les grandes figures du saxo ténor moderne, en l'occurrence John Coltrane et Sonny Rollins. Son plus récent opus, enregistré dans un club parisien en décembre dernier, s'inscrit nettement dans la lignée rollinsienne, avec un mouvement de la Freedom Suite du grand ténor - qu'il avait déjà interprétée en entier sur Sweet Geom (Les disques Victo), en 1994 - et quelques standards américains dignes du grand Sonny (I'll Never Stop Loving You, Like Someone In Love et I Hear A Rhapsody). Sobrement accompagné par le contrebassiste Nicolas Rageau et le batteur Philippe Soirat, Rieu reprend également ses compositions Following et In The Myth. On ne peut s'empêcher de penser que le saxophoniste lorgne dans son rétroviseur et même si c'est fort agréable à écouter, les fidèles du saxophoniste trouveront peu à se mettre sous la dent, ou plutôt dans l'oreille. Trois étoiles pour le répertoire, une autre demie pour la qualité de jeu. FAH

Jane Fair : Chances Are
Cellar Live Cl 033003
Difficile destin que celui de Jane Fair, saxophoniste approchant la soixantaine, dont le principal titre de gloire se résumait à un album en quintette enregistré au début des années 1970 pour le compte de la CBC. Une femme de sa génération ne pouvait percer sur son instrument, le ténor, contrairement à nombre de collègues masculins, parfois musiciens moins accomplis. Après avoir terminé ses études à Montréal, elle jouera épisodiquement en ville avant de s'exiler à Toronto où elle se consacrera à l'enseignement. Au fil des ans, elle reviendra dans la métropole pour retrouver des amis d'antan, entre autres Guy Nadon et Andrew Homzy. Après plus de 30 ans à rouler sa bosse dans l'ombre, elle refait surface avec ce CD de cinq morceaux captés en direct au Cellar de Vancouver en 2003. Élégance et grâce, selon nulle autre que Jane Bunnett, une de ses anciennes élèves. Cohérente dans son ensemble et pleine de bonnes idées musicales, la performance ne manque pas de beaux moments, notamment le dialogue improvisé avec le guitariste Bill Coon sur le standard Lazy Afternoon. La saxophoniste montre l'étendue de son expérience dans ses trois compositions originales, la première donnant son titre au disque. Pour les surprises, on cherchera peut-être ailleurs, mais ce jazz intemporel est bien ficelé, agrémenté comme il l'est par un soupçon cool de la West Coast. CC

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