Martial Solal: Cortancyl
Exposition sans tableau (Nocturne)
Claude Egea, Eric Le Lann (trumpets), Denis Leloup, Marc Roger (trombones), Lionel Surin (French horn), François Thuillier (tuba), Jean-Philippe Morel (electric bass), Thomas Grimmonprez (drums, percussion).
Composed by Martial Solal.
Recorded: Paris, December 26-29, 2005
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Martial Solal loves writing for large ensembles and has done so as often as he could, which is not very often, at least on record. He led a big band in the early '80s, then his "Dodecaband" in the late '90s and early 2000, and was enticed to start again with a "Newdecaband" by the sound of his daughter Claudia's voice, which he decided to use instead of a sax section. Well, that's not the only difference between the Newdecaband and a traditional jazz orchestra, but isn't "difference" more or less Solal's middle name?
This track is actually a small piano concerto. Solal starts alone at a rather slow pace, then the brass blow a couple of riffs before the voice joins in and, along with the brass, sings intricate melody lines with drum punctuations. A trio passage segues, on the same melody that the brass and voice had played, and the rest follows more or less the same pattern of piano and rhythm alternating with voice and brass. It may all seem a bit formal—and it actually is in the beginning—but the overall sound is gorgeous and very original. Besides, the electric bass gives a punchy yet mellow feel to the whole thing, and the piano part is some high-level stuff: sound, touch, phrasing … Solal has often composed and played for contemporary music, and it shows in his jazz orchestral writing. But how can European musicians refrain from copying the American tradition if they don't search for their own ways? And, as on this track, find interesting paths.
Reviewer: Thierry QuÃ©num