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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Duets with Delbecq

French pianist Benoît Delbecq fits in a musical category of his own, with last year's "Circles And Calligrams" so far his best album in my opinion. His great gift is that he looks at his instrument as more than a keyboard and he thinks as music as more than genre or fashion. His approach is his own, with jazz, classical, African and new music as his influences, demonstrating incredible rhythmic inventiveness, sonic novelties and lyricism throughout. The latter is the result of his almost obsessive sense of openness, with sonic textures that weigh little, in stark contrast to their musical solidity.

Not suprisingly we find him back in small ensembles mostly, lately with "Silencers", and now - equally not suprisingly, although by coincidence - in two duo setting with a clarinet player.

Benoît Delbecq & François Houle - Because She Hoped (Songlines - 2011) *****

On the first recording, Delbecq plays with Canadian clarinettist François Houle, with whom he's been performing and recording since 1995, and that can be heard on these ten pieces, all composed, with tunes by Ellington ("The Mystery Song") and Steve Lacy ("Clichés"), but mostly by Delbecq and Houle.

Both artists create silk-like music, soft to the touch, natural and warm and shiny, with an ease of interaction and joy of interplay that is fantastic to listen to. Delbecq can make his piano play odd-rhythmed percussive parts by plucking the strings while playing fluent unision lines with his other hand, as on "Ando", or "Nancali", incredibly captivating, and keeping a safe distance from the often bland sweetness of romantic piano music.

Both musicians have this light touch to their instrument, full of sensitivity and deep emotion, clever in the musical inventiveness and effortless, as if every note bubbles up from a common well, forming nice patterns when rising to the surface.

Compare it to silk, to a warm breeze, to champagne, ...

Incredibly beautiful music.

Listen and download from eMusic.

Antonin Tri-Hoang & Benoît Delbecq - Aéroplanes (Bee Jazz - 2011) ****

Delbecq also teams up with 22-year old French clarinettist and alto saxophonist Antonin Tri-Hoang, for what is without a doubt the debut album of the year. Tri-Hoang is member of the French Orchestre National De Jazz, and without a doubt one of the most promising young musicians to arise in the past years.

He had the chance to be able to work with Delbecq for this album, and even if all the compositions are Tri-Hoang's, the pianist's influence is very present, both in the overall sound as in the created texture. Comparing both albums is not entirely fair, but incredibly enough they can be listened to side-by-side. The music is a little more abstract, as light-footed and equally genre-defying, with the young reedist demonstrating his fantastic breadth of timbral explorations, fully controlled and with a musical accuracy - it sounds as it should sound at the right moment - that is highly unusual for someone of such a young age.

Not all the compositions are of the same high level, but the coherence is strong.


Listen and download from eMusic.

Buy from Instantjazz.

© stef


P said...


on the begining you wrote "French pianist François Delbecq" instead of Benoît Delbecq. That's all.. : )

Anonymous said...

and a video of the recording session here :