Two years ago, French cellist François Courtois released the stellar "As Soon As Possible" with Ellery Eskelin on sax and Sylvie Courvoisier on piano, and also the somewhat disappointing "L'Homme Avion", a mixture of musical styles with African poetry, and a little bit too much of too much.
Now he's back with an album that is really focused on his key strengths : incredible skills on his instruments, full of lyricism and emotional power, and more importantly, a very subtle sense of musicality, minimalist, austere and deep.
Courtois' technique and compositions/improvisations vary a lot without losing coherence, ranging from the more classical pieces, with lots of inherent drama, like the phenomenal title track, to the more fun pizzi pieces such as "No Smoking", with other compositions more repetitive in nature (à la Glass, Reich, ...) or impressionistic with overdubs of several layers of recorded cello.
The end result is at times astonishing, especially in the more "classical" pieces, full of sensitive aesthetics, but regardless of the approach, Courtois is a superb story-teller, setting the scene, developing it, adding material, working toward peaks of intensity, nicely contrasted with moments of restrained beauty.
Buy from Instantjazz.
Below a somewhat older performance by Courtois that is rawer than this album