Edouard Ferlet: Par Tous Les Temps (2004)
Edouard Ferlet is a young French pianist who has been making a name for himself in Europe with his own projects and, most notably, with two recordings for bassist Jean-Philippe Viret’s trio. Etant Donnes and Considerations , both released on Philippe Ghielmetti’s progressive Sketch Music label, established Ferlet as a new artist on the scene with formidable technique and a unique approach. Par Tous Les Temps , his first solo piano outing, is a remarkable recording that continues to assert his vision.
While Ferlet can lean towards impressionism, as he does on “Premonitions,” he just as often exhibits an expressionist disposition, sometimes within the same piece. Alternating between rhythmically conflicting passages that demonstrate a staggering left-hand/right-hand independence and more airy, abstract passages, “Ping Pong,” in a single piece, defines much of what Ferlet is about. Abstract and dark, “Valse a Satan” shows another side of Ferlet, informed by contemporary composers including Bartok and Ligeti.
Ferlet, in fact, owes as much to new music as he does to some obvious roots in traditional jazz. His playing is an interesting confluence of influences as broad as Ahmad Jamal, Herbie Nichols and Keith Jarrett. The Jamal influence is less overt, more about elegance and use of space; his affinity for Nichols has much to do with a vivid imagination and an eclectic approach; and the Jarrett connection is less stylistic and more about pure spontaneous composition.
Some pieces clearly have a preconception, like the minor blues “Le Blues Qui Monte”; others, like the brooding “Escale,” feel as though they have been plucked out of the ether. From the free tone poem “L’Autre Moitie” to “Capitaine Croche,” mixing Satie-like absurdity with intense outward-reaching improvisations, Ferlet shows that virtuoso ability is no more than a means to an end; a tool which is ultimately used in the pursuit of artistic expression. As talented as Ferlet clearly is, there are no self-congratulating technical displays; it’s all about the music.
Par Tous Les Temps continues the philosophy of Sketch Music, which, in its short existence, has done much to promote an alternative vision of improvised music and a new group of European artists. At once abstract and direct, impressionistic and expressionistic, Ferlet’s recording highlights a distinctive vision which, much as jazz is about subsuming one’s roots into something larger, brings together a variety of seemingly conflicting influences, creating a new whole.
Track Listing: Ping Pong; Le Blues Qui Monte; Premonitions; Valse a Satan; Fair Les Doigts Raides; Escale; L
Personnel: Edouard Ferlet (piano)