Sax player Emile Parisien is probably brightest young French rising jazz musician. His international success begun two years ago with release of international debut album on respectable German ACT label. I saw his quartet playing live right after on European tour and to be honest wasn't too much impressed. Young French musicians had great communication (not surprisingly for active band,playing together for almost ten years),their music was well balanced containing tuneful elements and improvs,and being accessible,they didn't sound boring. Emile himself even did some show on stage, but at the end of the day I couldn't recall even small memorable moment of all gig.
Last week Parisien played in my hometown again - this time with another French rising star accordionist Vincent Peirani (who just released his album of duets with German star-pianist Michael Wollny). Parisien new album, just released on same ACT label, contains Peirani participation as guest as well. "Sfumato"(that's new album's title) already received rare five-star review in "The Guardian", so - is it really all that great?
First of all, Parisien after ten years of activities disbanded his original quartet and formed totally new band - a quintet with German piano veteran Joachim Kuhn (who lives in Paris for years). Fifth member (besides of Parisien quartet's classic sax-piano-drums-bass formula) is French electric guitarist Manu Codija, known by work with Henry Texier and Erik Truffaz among others.
Than, there are two guest stars participating on four of eleven compositions - French scene veteran Michel Portal on bass clarinet and already mentioned above accordionist Vincent Peirani.So - on his second ACT album Parisien plays with larger and technically much more potent band.
Musical changes are significant as well. From quite accessible but unmemorable and often loose compositions of former quartet,Parisien moved towards complex and more pre-composed material (new band plays his old trilogy "Le clown tueur de la fête foraine", two Joachim Kuhn songs and one Parisien-Kuhn collaborative composition as well). From French urban music influenced improvisational pieces with soloing sax on the front Parisien music made a visible step toward complex European modern jazz. Peirani accordion still adds that trade-mark French chanson -like feeling, but it works more like spices in sophisticated brew, than main accent. Kuhn's piano and Codija's rock-like guitar are excellent ingredients,making Parisien music more replete,complex and partially refined.
Still not a masterpiece but serious step forward, "Sfumato" is one great example of best modern European jazz.