ALAIN MALLET — Mutt Slang (review)

ALAIN MALLET — Mutt Slang album cover Album · 2016 · World Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
The most difficult CDs to review are the ones that don’t fit into a convenient style or genre. I’m listening to all the influences and cultures that go into Alain Mallet’s “Mutt Slang”, and I am thinking how can I possibly define and explain this music to someone else. Alain Mallet is a veteran pianist who has been working with artists like Paul Simon, Phil Woods and others for over 25 years. Just a few short years ago, he finally decided to record his first album as a leader. Alain lists a diverse group of influences at work here, including Miles Davis, Peter Gabriel, Rachmaninov, Stevie Wonder, Salif Keita and others, and all that diversity shows through in his music. For example, opening track, “Till I Dance (In Your Arms Again)” opens with a Middle Eastern flavor, before there is a shift and the bands kicks into a Latin American rhythm in 5/4 time. Its this sort of mixing influences from all over the world that best describes the music on “Mutt Slang”, as different sections of tracks may take us to Africa, Israel, Latin America or some imaginative places that don’t quite exist outside the musical realm.

Alain works with a steady rhythm section on “Mutt Slang” that includes Jamey Haddad on percussion, Peter Slavov on bass and Abraham Rounds on drums. A very talented bunch as they are all expected to handle the wide variety of rhythms presented here. A large cast of rotating guests supply solos on a variety of instruments, as well as vocal leads too. There are plenty of good soloists on here, but the best rides belong to Alain, whose ability to build a dynamic piano solo may remind some of Herbie Hancock, but with a pronounced Afro-Cuban influence too. Another particularly remarkable solo comes from vocalist Song Yi Jeon, as she takes a Flora Purim type flight on “Spring”. Daniel Rotem also turns in some nice solos on tenor sax on a couple tunes. “Mutt Slang” is a multi-cultural smorgasbord, but none of this culture mixing sounds gratuitous or cheap, instead, Mallet has built a musical vision that carries the integrity and logic of all the cultures that gave this music birth.
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