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Moving along parallel yet singular paths, these quartet discs are united by imaginative borrowing from Rock-styled rhythms plus the tonal freedom offered by advanced improvisation. Simultaneously though both trombonist Brian Drye’s all-American combo and drummer Bruno Tocanne’s French/Swiss/Canadian group express a linkage to more traditional Jazz via their instrumentation. With a front-line consisting of harmonized trumpet (or cornet) and trombone, both bands are give new impetus to a instrumental blend that goes all the way back to Louis Armstrong and Kid Ory or Red Allen and J.C. Higginbotham, and was most effectively expressed in modern times by J.J. Johnson’s trombone in tandem with Nat Adderley’s cornet or Freddie Hubbard’s trumpet.
For a start, however, no one would confuse either band here with a conventional Jazz combo – for a start Bizingas features Jonathan Goldberger’s guitar or baritone guitar in the spot where Canadian Michael Bates’ bass does its work on 4 new dreams. But still, a buoyant variant of Hard Bop is expressed by Drye, Goldberger, cornetist Kirk Knuffke and drummer Ches Smith on the first CD’s “Guilty”, while an equivalent Johnson-Hubbard blend is brought to mind by French trumpeter Rémi Gaudillat and Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser interplay with Bates and Tocanne on the other disc’s punning “Van Gogh”.
On “Van Gogh”, the bassist’s super-fast walking and the drummer’s press rolls back up the two brass men flitting from allegro to andante tempo. During its course, Blaser, who often plays with drummer Pierre Favre, brays and tongue twists with freight-train whistles or plunger tones, while Gaudillat’s solo explodes with staccato triplets until the two splutter and sputter in tandem at the finale. Less intense than standard Hard Bop, “Guilty” balances on the rolls, pops and flams of Smith, who is also in the Good for Cows duo, and downward strums from Goldberger. Following an episode of staccato, slightly askew brass bites from both horn men, Smith intensifies the backbeat and a head recap flows organically from harmonized brass work.
At the same time, Tocanne, whose musical expressions is also exhibited in the Rock-Jazz Libre Ensemble and as part of pianist Sophia Domancich’s Jazz-Chamber trio, doesn’t allow 4 new dreams to be a one-trick pony. Gaudillat’s “Pass si simple” for instance has a New York Art Quartet feeling, with the composer’s triplet runs with popping accents and the drummer’s press rolls gradually liquefying into slurring tongue stops and asymmetrical drum beats. Contributing to the time fragmenting is mirrored rubato lines from Gaudillat’s trumpet and Blaser’s whinnying timbre stretching, mostly conveyed with the use of a plunger mute.
On the other hand, Bates’ weighty guitar-like twangs coupled with a sturdy back beat make “Alicante”, another of the trumpeter’s compositions, resemble an updated New Orleans funeral march. Here Gaudillat’s gentle capillary tones are mirrored by Blaser. Taking the conception further, Bates’ andante-paced “Voodoo” matches the composer’s weighty ostinato strums with Tocanne’s taps and pops, allowing space for the trumpeter most elaborate solo of the session. During its course, Gaudillat moves from bent-note flutter tonguing to stop-time open horn sweeps, finally mellowing to the extent that his emphasized grace notes mate with the bassist`s linear pedal point.
Similar eclecticism characterizes the sounds from Drye’s long-constituted New York-based quartet. Perhaps that should be expected from the trombonist, who also plays piano and synthesizer here, and whose gigs have ranged from those with the Klezmer Brass and drummer John Hollenbeck to backing up singers ranging from folkie Joan Baez to Motown’s the Four Tops.
Folk and Klezmer influences are MIA here, but there’s a touch of R&B in the compositions, all written by Drye. Strongly in evidence on “Money Market”, for instance are a shuffle beat from Smith and block chords from the baritone guitar of Goldberger, who has performed with trumpeter Ron Miles and drummer Jim Black. As the piece evolves, the guitarist’s concentrated rasgueado, broken up with flanges, sounds alongside shaking, descending valve work from the two horns which culminates in bleats, brays and tongue tricks.
In contrast a tune such as “Stretched Thin” is just that, initially built around the trombonist’s meandering, whole scale exploration, accompanied by pointed glockenspiel bounces from the percussionist. Dazzling affirmation of the theme from Knuffke, who is also a member of drummer Matt Wilson’s band, takes the form of reverberating grace note slurs and open-horn flourishes. Climatically, the piece attains its greatest coherence as hand-muted trombone blasts are paralleled by the cornet line at the same time as guitar licks slide from exposing clinks and knob twisting to micro-tonality. Hard-pounding drum beats and guitar power chords are the novel back-up to harmonized brass lines on the introductory “Tagger”, on which Knuffke’s fluttery obbligato presages the turnaround and head recap; while “Farmer” is a through-composed semi-ballad that unrolls slowly, and is built around Drye’s downward moving key-clipping and Knuffke’s upward tongue quivers.
In a textural reversal, “Untitled Moog Anthem”, the CD’s finale ignores the brass blend almost completely for a backbeat-driven riff. Here strident guitar fills that bounce from Rockabilly to Psychedelic share space with analog synth work which resembles radio dial twisting.
July 17, 2011