Friday, January 11, 2008

Rockingchair (Chief Inspector, 2007) ***½

Rockingchair is the first CD by the band with the same name, the initiative of Airelle Besson (trumpet, flugelhorn, violin) and Sylvain Rifflet (sax, clarinet, keyboards), here assisted by Pierre Durand on guitar, Eric Jacot on bass and Nicholas Larmignat on drums. The music is in the same vein as Chris Speed, Jim Black and Cuong Vu, mixing jazz, rock and folk or world music elements into a very modern brew, with an appealing sense of beauty and lyricism, often due to the long unisono lines between the two horns, supported by rock-like beat of the rhythm section. Because of their creativity they manage to avoid a too mellow approach. Indeed, at times the band creates fireworks, with heavy guitar-playing and drums, while trumpet and clarinet soar high above the noise. There isn't too much soloing in the jazz sense, the overall sound and musical mood gets preference here over the individual expression of the musicians, which doesn't mean they don't have the capabilities. On the third track, Besson leads the tune, demonstrating her skills on trumpet in a wonderful ballad, accompanied by electric guitar and bass. This melancholy mood is professionally destroyed by its successor "Fly Away" (listen to sample below), starting with electronics and guitar noise, evolving into an uptempo piece with lots of variation, and again great trumpet and sax work by the two leaders. "Désert", offers more middle-eastern influences, both rhythmically and melodically, with Besson playing the violin, and subtle acoustic guitar work by Pierre Durand. The compositions are very often very dramatic in their structure and tone, cinematic at moments, intimate at others. Excellent album, with creative ideas, solid musicianship, accessible, balanced, yet with its own distinct voice.

You can download the entire album from their website.

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