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Friday, November 28, 2008

Vincent Courtois - As Soon As Possible (CAM Jazz, 2008) *****

Sparse cello ... minimalistic piano ... snippets of sax ... interweaving ... telling stories full of surprises ... gently ... creatively ... open and free ... full of emotion ... beautifully. What can I say more? What need I say more?

Maybe that the three musicians are excellent : Vincent Courtois on cello, Sylvie Courvoisier on piano and Ellery Eskelin on sax. All three are wonderful improvisors and great masters of their instruments.

The first track is a pointillistic beauty, the second is more jazzy, with a strong pulse and a powerful sax solo. The third track, the title song, is a hesitating abstract piece with lots of extended techniques evolving from near silence to a wonder of a highly discplined raw aesthetic. "Nocturne" is more melancholy, with bowed cello and soft piano accentuation, yet keeping far away from cheap sentiments, although there are references to the melodramatic accompaniment of silent movies, up until the sax joins, when the cello takes on a rigid repitive phrase, and the horn brings darkness and fear into the proceedings. The highlight of the album is the long "Mesure D'Ailleurs", starting in a very avant-garde mode, but all three musicians manage to bring a lyricism and emotional depth that is unusual for such a break-through approach. "La Fontaine De Mars" is equally interesting, with the cello creating an otherworldly electronic rhythmic sound, supported by plucked piano strings alternated with the regular keys, dark, gloomy, agonizing, over which Eskelin weaves beautiful notes together. The other tracks are all of the same level, varied, with unexpected twists and turns, yet always with a gradual build-up and carefully controlled closing.

The true value and power comes from the totality of what you hear, as it should be, yet so difficult to achieve in improvisation. The musical coherence of what this trio brings is absolutely stunning, creating on the spot what sounds like perfection. Their attention to detail, with every note or sound where it should be, as if lots of thinking went into it, is amazing, as is the way they find each other blindly in the improvisation, speaking the same language, despite the boundary-breaking approach ... What can I say more? What need I say more?

Listen and download from eMusic.

© stef


joesh said...

Hi Steph - I'd love to hear this CD, which I will one of these days when I have time to pass via the Mediatheque, but the odd thing is that it's almost impossible to find!!! How do they expect anybody to buy a CD that's not in the shops (or on the net either!!). Of course you can always download it as you suggested ..... but that's just not the same!

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe,
Cam Jazz is a label based in Rome, Italy... you can order directly from them.


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