Jean-Christophe Beney: Cassiopée (2002)
Jazz from outside the U.S.A. can bring in unexpected pleasures. Cassiopée offers unusual color and a marked departure from the usual parameters. This quartet of French musicians turns expectation into high satisfaction with their selection of tunes, all but one of which are originals.
They start off with the medium tempo swing of "Darn That Dream." The subtle permutations in register that Béney introduces get down to hardier terrain as he dips deeper in to the groove along the way. The pianism of Coq, at once translucent and sparkling, adds the icing to what turns out to be a spiffy version indeed!
These original tunes are captives of an undeniable melodic presence. They establish a quick rapport with the listener, and once that is in place, the musicians open them up with an impeccable sense of logic. Coq brings clusters and runs that are the pure joy of abandon to "Maély Smiles." It is melancholic air envelopes "David's Mood" the atmosphere dense and swirling before it loosens and saturates its progression in hard bop. A different adjunct comes through "Swee' Pea," where Soirat uses the brushes effectively and Béney captivates with an emotionally haunting performance.
Béney and Coq act as the main protagonists, hedging each other, picking up strands and extending them. But where would the frontline be if there was no rhythm section to keep them on edge and feed them? Nicolas and Soirat do just that and create a palpably solid quartet.
Track Listing: Darn That Dream; Black Light; Cassiopée; Maély Smiles; Khoops; Swee' Pea; Missing Music; David's Mood; My Pearl
Personnel: Jean-Christophe Béney: tenor sax; Laurent Coq: piano; Clovis Nicolas: acoustic bass; Philippe Soirat: drums.