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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Chris Cheek, Chris Speed & Stephane Furic Leibovici - Jugendstil (ESP, 2008) ****½

Bassist Stephane Furic Leibovici composed 11 pieces of modern music, which he calls organic music, growing from its own essence, and that have almost not repetitive motifs, yet each track is always recognizable as the same piece. To make it even more organic, the pieces all flow almost without exception over into one another. Chris Cheek on tenor and soprano, and Chris Speed on clarinet manage to make this music even more sublime, both playing with unbelievable tonal clarity, and wonderful improvisational focus. And although Stephane Furic Leibovici's compositions are already conceptually strong on their own, in the hands of lesser musicians, they would not have come to the same high level of sophistication and "free precision". The title "Jugendstil" refers to the architectural style of the early 20th Century and the music is indeed a perfect mirror image of it : non-linear, highly stylized, crafty and refined (although the composer says he's "not interested in styles. What I am after is substance"). I searched the internet for more background information on Stephane Furic Leibovici, but I found nothing apart from some few references to this CD. Apparently he withdrew all information on himself from his website, as a way to begin again. The liner notes add : "His starting point, here and elsewhere: 'to be gentle with the sounds, they have a life of their own, to listen and to let them come to me. I don't push them around. I listen to the inside of them'". A great description of this fragile and sensitive music.

© stef


Unknown said...

Thanks for the information and the Jugendstil/Art Nouveau link. ESP just sent this album to WWPV and I love it. I'll be playing it on my show (The Wednesday Evening Odds and Evens Jazz show) tonight. We stream at
Have you heard The Clarinets (with speed)?
Be well,
L.J. Kopf
Jazz Music Director WWPV 88.7