Michel Donato: Et Ses Amis Européens (2004)
French-Canadian bassist Michel Donato has been on the jazz scene since the 1960s, with only a handful of albums under his own name. He has the respect of the Canadian musicians for his musicianship and influence in bringing Monk, Mingus, Miles Davis, and Carmen McRae to the Montreal jazz community.
This album finds Donato leading a pianoless quintet which is comprised of his European friendsPiotr Wojtasik, a Polish trumpeter, and nomadic guitarist Michael Felberbaumalong with two Quebecois musicians currently living in France: tenor saxophonist François Theberge and drummer Karl Jannuska. The eight tunes are all originals with contributions by all members save Jannuska.
The liner notes suggest that the music reflects the style of Eric Dolphy during his Out to Lunch period. I think they've got the right label (Blue Note) but the wrong musical reference. This is nicely played post-bop writing that would fit right into the Blue Note early-1960s era and is consistent with the early albums of Joe Henderson and Wayne Shorter of that period. The liners mention Wojtasik's trumpet style as similar to that of Woody Shaw, and there is a distinct similarity.
Theberge shows a virile tenor sax ability with some flashes of wanting to take the music out, but I prefer his mainstream work on "Vin Neuf" and "Dolphy's Coming." Felberbaum is a pleasure to listen to and on the first two tracks, "Open Closer" and "Tremay," he takes the first solo, sounding very much like Jim Hall, circa 1960, in a pianoless combo. His oddly named ballad "Dog" is attractive also. Michel Donato gets to stretch on bass during "Have You Met Mr. Jones" and "Vin Neuf."
Track Listing: Open Closer, Tremay, Hope, Bleu Sur Le Vif, Dog, Have You Met Mr.Jones, Dolphy's Coming, Vin Neuf, Duet Now.
Personnel: Michel Donato, bass; Francois Theberge, tenor sax; Piotr Wojtasik, trumpet; Michael Felberbaum,guitar; Karl Jannuska,drums