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Sissoko/Segal/Parisien/Peirani: Les Égarés review

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    Posted: 24 Mar 2023 at 7:24am
Émile Parisien’s soprano sax is the standout on this diverse and inventive set, which blends kora with Anatolian shindigs, klezmer with agile accordion  

When the light from one of the most ethereally spellbinding stars in the jazz firmament flickered out with the death of Wayne Shorter at 89 this month, the great improviser and composer left a multiplicity of ways to remember him. A tersely powerful tenor saxophonist, Shorter, like his mentor John Coltrane, cultivated a contrastingly pensive, vulnerable, and even unsentimentally romantic persona with the delicately oboe-like and tonally temperamental soprano sax.

That fickle instrument, pioneered and almost exclusively played from the 1920s to the 50s in voice-like, vibrato-trembling tones by the New Orleans genius Sidney Bechet, was otherwise largely neglected in jazz until Dixielander turned trailblazer Steve Lacy’s postwar partnerships with Cecil Taylor and Thelonious Monk, and Coltrane’s My Favourite Things in 1961.

In recent years the impish French original Émile Parisien has proven a brilliant inheritor of those soprano traditions – Bechet particularly. He’s a prominent presence on this lyrical yet quirky quartet set. Les égarés means “those who stray”, which aptly characterises genre-hoppers like Parisien, Malian kora maestro Ballaké Sissoko, improvising cellist Vincent Segal and accordion virtuoso Vincent Peirani.

The tracklist is diverse and constantly surprising. Steady kora hooks quietly drive song-like soprano and cello lines towards the release of soaring, jazzily agile accordion improv; slow folk-ballad themes turning to whirling Anatolian shindigs; Joe Zawinul’s Orient Express is a churning groove of accordion chords that frame Parisien’s seductively soft-edged, whispery tones; Esperanza is a joyous, klezmer-like dance.

Parisien’s Dou is a dreamy sax melody with the composer at his most Bechet-like, while Peirani’s Nomad’s Sky often suggests an imploring voice, with softly whooping soprano sounds rising over long arco-cello chords. If ever there was a powerful argument for jazz being an attitude to music-making rather than a genre, it’s this rare gem.

from www.theguardian.com

Edited by snobb - 24 Mar 2023 at 7:25am
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