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Andy Emler: Crouch, Touch, Engage (2009)

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Andy Emler: Crouch, Touch, Engage How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

With Crouch, Touch, Engage, Andy Elmer is back. He is one of the most influential pianist/composers to have appeared on the French scene in the last 15 years, having explored all the possible links between jazz and rock. He has collaborated with some major jazz artists, including (Michel Portal
Michel Portal
Michel Portal
b.1935
composer/conductor
, François Jeanneau, Trilok Gurtu
Trilok Gurtu
Trilok Gurtu
b.1951
tablas
and the late Woody Shaw
Woody Shaw
Woody Shaw
1944 - 1989
trumpet
), but it is his work with large orchestras—both at the beginning of his career in 1986 with the National Jazz Orchestra and, more recently, at the heart of the WDR—which gave him a taste for writing on a large scale.

Brimming with ideas, Emler created his Megaoctet in 1988, which has gone from strength to strength ever since, picking up a host of major awards including Django d'Or (1992) and the Victoires du Jazz (2005) album of the year award for Dreams in Tune (Nocturne Jazz, 2004). He has also garnered universal praise from the French press following the release of West in Peace (Nocturne, 2007), for which he was also awarded the Django d'Or and Jazz Academy prize. All this is proof that the Megaoctet is universally acknowledged as remarkable by those at the heart of the French jazz scene.

Emler has created a kind of jazz/rock opera, constructing and deconstructing his compositions accordingly. The Megaoctet excels in furious unison work, visceral exaltations and moments of sheer calm; a passionate, loving session. This effervescent fusion echoes a jungle of sound that Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
and Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
1922 - 1979
bass, acoustic
might have created with Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa
1940 - 1993
guitar, electric
, had they had the opportunity to collaborate with each other. The music avoids sticking to rigid linear structure, instead written by Emler as a suite of movements, as on "Mail to Elise." Solos are equally distributed amongst group members—who sound like a big band despite being only a nonet. Each player marries humor and self-deprecation, under the guidance of the ever-surprising cornetist Mederic Collignon or altoist Thomas de Pourquery, who sings like a crooner. The writing is both deep and extremely expressive.

A DVD released by Triton filmed in a little Parisian club in September 2008 provides a glimpse of this high energy group. Taken from many angles with some hot close-ups, the film demonstrates the demands of this inventive music, as it revisits the spirit of Ellington and Mingus.


Track Listing: CD: Crouch, Touch, Engage; Ouvertoire 2; Funky Sickness; Mail To Elise (Dédié A Elise Caron); Beautifuler 2; La régamuse; Réouvertoire et Postlude; Go Down Swinging. DVD: Crouch, Touch, Engage; Mail To Elise (Dédié A Elise Caron); La régamuse; Go Down Swinging; Funky Sickness; Interview.

Personnel: Andy Emler: piano; Mederic Collignon: cornet, bugle, vocals; Thomas de Pourquery: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, vocals; Philippe Selam: tenor saxophone; Adrien Amey: alto saxophone (DVD); Laurent Dehors: bass clarinet; Eric Echampard: drums; François Verly: percussion; Claude Tchamitchian: double-bass; François Thuillier: tuba.

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Modern Jazz


Featured recording “Crouch, Touch, Engage”

Crouch, Touch, Engage

Self Produced (2009)
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