Sylvain Luc: Joko (2007)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
This Basque guitarist is possibly one of the most versatile jazz musicians to have appeared in recent years; he seems comfortable playing funk-inspired jazz (as he did in a recent appearance with drummer Billy Cobham at the Cutting Room last month) and is able to have an open ear to pop music while also exploring more complex sounds, as can be heard on this disc.
He opens with a very loose cover of The Doors' "Light My Fire, doing double duty on bass and guitar, which he does throughout the disc. Pianist Jacky Terrasson shines on the track, taking full advantage of the changes between its basic melody and the chorus.
Paul McCartney fans would appreciate the treatment given to the love ballad "This Never Happened Before . While the original evoked the writer's early post-Beatles phase, on his version Luc takes the tune to bossa nova territory complemented by the fine work of percussionist Pascal Rey, who fills the open spaces without overpowering the general sound.
An ear-catching original is "Gangui, a slow-paced song which features Luc both on the acoustic guitar and the glissentar. Terrasson fills in with some some nice riffs during some bars and contributes a beautiful solo. One of the few times that Luc picks up an electric guitar is on Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out, which begins in what some would call Steve Howe territory, leading into a twisting guitar solo.
At his recent appearance at the Cutting Room with Billy Cobham's String Quartet (Luc was in town for the IAJE Conference and the French Jazz Festival), the tone was firmly funky with Gallic violinist Didier Lockwood and bassist Victor Bailey. Luc's influence came through on an original with a bossa nova-meets-gypsy aura. And he displayed world chops on Bailey's "Low Blow playing with a Latin jazz feel.
Luc's undeniable talent as a leader and a sideman deserves the appreciation of audiences who have not yet discovered his sound either live or in the studio.
Track Listing: Light My Fire; This Never Happened Before; Fil Bleu; Gangui; Terre Inconnue; Steppin' Out; Introguito; Fandanguito; Coral; Machination Secrete; Joko; Mean Old Man; Accalmies; Folk Print; Le Roi Dans Les Bois.
Personnel: Sylvain Luc: guitars, bass, glissentar; Pascal Rey: drums, percussion; Michel Portal: clarinets; Eric Longsworth: cello; Olivier Ker Ourio: harmonica; Jacky Terrasson: piano; Keyvan Chemirani and Bijan Chemirani: daf, zarb, bendir, udu.
Record Label: Dreyfus Records
Style: Modern Jazz