Saturday, September 15, 2007

Noël Akchoté - So Lucky (Winter & Winter, 2007) ***

Solo acoustic guitar albums are relatively rare, but if it comes from one of the best jazz avant-garde musicians, and when the tunes bring at the same time a relatively mainstream, even poppy ode to the music of Kylie Minogue, then you really have something unique going on. And that's exactly what Frenchman Noël Akchoté does on this CD : in a masterly fashion he transcribed the poppy melodies of the Australian megastar into small jazzy gems : fresh, nice, respectful. And the last adjective is probably the most exceptional characteristic : Akchoté respects this music for what it is, demonstrates what it really contains, once stripped from the populistic beat and mass-moving ass-moving. Even the "allaboutjazz.com" reviewer got fooled by the concept : "the tunes, an interesting mix of unknowns, sound like something you’ve heard before". Even the old hit, "The Locomotion" was covered by Minogue on one of her records. Yet this is jazz, this is blues, this is a record that gives us, with absolute technical mastery, creativity and precision, nice jazz guitar music, without pretence, without showing off, just making nice music : intimate and friendly.

2 comments:

stephane said...

From what I get from your usual grading/rating standards, I would have thought this one got 4 stars. Definitely on my faves list for 2007. When he comes up with this kind of understated yet brilliant playing, Noël Akchoté is the man.
Anyway, seeing this one reviewed is great anyway.

stef said...

Stéphane, I know these stars are always a pain in the neck. I agree this album is superb in its approach and subtlety of execution. But it's a nice album (3 stars), not a great album (4 stars) and not exceptional (5 stars).

I know the lines are thin between those criteria. It's mostly a purely emotional reaction. And said earlier, my ratings, as my taste, may change over time.