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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Jean-René Mourot / Bruno Tocanne - Chroniques de l'imaginaire (Momentanea, 2015) ****

By Eyal Hareuveni

This intimate duo of young French pianist Jean-René Mourot and veteran drummer Bruno Tocanne - who has collaborated in his long career with pianists Sophia Domancich and Henri Roger, bass players Hugh Hopper and Paul Rogers, to name just a few - was initiated by Mourot. He was fascinated by the sensuous, impressionist duo of American pianist Bill Carrothers and drummer Bill Stewart.

And, indeed, the opening piece of this duo, “Triptyque”, suggests a similar, unhurried, intimate conversation. Tocanne adds to Mourot's gentle melodic touches and nuanced colors with delicate, soft playing on the cymbals. But this impressionistic piece serves only as an introduction to some more stormy duets. As this meeting evolves the duo expands its attentive interplay with more colors and dynamics, chronicling the rich, imaginative language of these two resourceful musicians.

Tocanne is a master drummer who can set a certain feeling, tension building and texture with a modest, light strokes of the drum set, choosing at times to introduce a mysterious grammar with his only bass drum, the cymbals or a sparse, fractured patterns. His playing liberates Mourot from the lyrical, impressionistic vein and charges his playing with intense energy, but with no attempt to impose himself. Such kind of an intensifying dynamics is developed on “Cabalette, especially on its final crescendos, or on the collisions of “Foultitude”. Tocanne pulse-free playing triggers Mourot to explore the whole piano sonic spectrum - inside and outside - and to sketch mysterious textures as on “Permis d'explorer”, and both explore a free-flowing improvised texture on “Langue de bois” Even the quiet, minimalist “Obsessions” sounds now as an evocative, cinematic piece. The deep understanding that was solidified before reaches its climax on the confrontational and intense closing piece “Ab hoc et ab hâc”.