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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Jean-Marc Foltz & Stephan Oliva - Visions Fugitives (Visions Fugitives, 2012) ****

By Stef

Serguei Prokoviev, Alban Berg, Francis Poulenc, Witold Lutoslawski and Johannes Brahms are not a jazz quintet, but classical composers who inspired the great French duo of Jean-Marc Foltz on clarinet and Stephan Oliva on piano. But they are not the only composers here. John Coltrane's "Naima" and "Lonnie's Lament" also figure among the covered pieces, as well as some of their own compositions.

The pieces were apparently all chosen for their abstract beauty, all slow and elusive, full of melancholy and fragile tension. Despite the breadth of source material, and the time-span of their compositions - more than a century apart - the thirteen tracks are all fit well within the duo's musical vision.

Boundaries of genres are transgressed, or rendered futile, yet the tone and the technique are entirely classical. There are no extended techniques, no iconoclast excursions into today's world of distress. It all floats, beautifully, respectfully and if there is intensity, it is it because jazz expressivity enters somehow, by stretching tones, and leaving more space by changing the classical pieces' original tempo, or by actual improvisations as in the two variations on Alban Berg.

The album comes with a 30-page booklet with drawings of trees by French painter Emmanuel Guibert. You can watch them too in the video below.

Great music for quiet and introspective moments.