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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Pascal Niggenkemper Trio - Le Faux Miroir live in Strasbourg at Jardins des Sciences, 11/19/2023

Louis Laurain (tp), Pascal Niggenkemper (b), Toma Gouland (perc)

By Martin Schray

Pascal Niggenkemper is a man of many talents. He is, first and foremost, an excellent bassist, but beyond that he always comes up with new ideas (e.g. the Occitania project, which we have reviewed in detail here ) and he always knows to select the right musicians. Upcoming Hurricane, his trio album with Simon Nabatov (piano) and Gerald Cleaver (drums) is still one of my favorite NoBusiness recordings, his Baloni trio with Joachim Badenhorst (clarinet) and Frantz Loriot (viola) is unique and his large-scale project 7ème Continent is a conceptual challenge. Now he has put together a new trio consisting of trumpeter Louis Laurain (of Die Hochstapler fame) and percussionist Toma Gouband.

One of the project’s goals is to provide the perfect illustration. The idea is a live dialog between a traditional acoustic jazz trio and its virtual avatar, an amplified mirror image of each individual instrument, which leads to a collective discourse in subtle deformations through several layers of sound - hence the name: Le Faux Mirroir (The Fake Mirror). Their concert that took place Strasbourg as part of the Jazzdor Festival was one of the trio’s first ones, with hardly any rehearsals beforehand, but this did not detract from the musical density. In the sold-out Planétarium des Jardins des Sciences the band played with a projection of space images, but interestingly they were not informed about this in advance. Musically, the trio is strongly percussive. Niggenkemper brings together the musical philosophies here: the preparations and the distorted sound of the first solo album Look With Thine Ears and the idea of a second bass with motors attached to it the way he did it on his latest one, la vallée de l'étrange. Louis Laurain’s approach is related to the one of Bill Dixon’s late creative period, but at the same time he also uses a lot of extended materials and small microphones at the trumpet itself, which becomes a percussion instrument this way. Toma Gouband, a less famous musician (at least to me), was the biggest surprise at the concert. He consistently took care of sound production, used tonewoods and stones, instead of clappers he sometimes played with a bunch of flowers (sic!) and walked through the audience to expose it to rhythm from different sides, which had a disturbing effect (in a positive way).

The concert was surprisingly entertaining, there were several amazing twists and turns. Although the band ignored the movie show, the music went perfectly with the close-ups of the rings of Saturn, for example. Laurain’s solo, which emerged incredibly organically from the improvisation, was a highlight of the set, as the music flowed into an abstract groove that provided a beautiful counterpoint. At the end, Laurain then counted down (as if we were in Cape Canevaral), which resulted in an implosion rather than a start. The audience was delighted (most of them probably came because of the film projection) and one can only hope that there will soon be a CD or a record of this project.


Anonymous said...

I wish I could have been there