Erik Truffaz: Saloua (2005)
I am pleased and saddened to report that this is one of the best pieces of music I have heard in 2005. It is a pleasure to have discovered the fifth album in the US for Blue Note, and ninth album overall, by this French composer, bandleader, and trumpet player. Yet it is also sad, because although this is his fifth/ninth release, it is the very first one I have heard.
Truffaz works on trumpet, melodica, and electronics with his longtime band: Manu Codjia on guitars and electronics; Michel Benita on bass and samples; and Philippe Pipon Garcia on drums, parlophone, and samples. Together they create impressive jazz, electronic, funk, and world music settings, individually and in combination, while the leader's trumpet playing meets the challenges of all these styles.
Truffaz's trumpet sound, like that of almost every player since Miles Davis, seems in Davis' lineage: Not blasts from a raging furnace, but cool sleek lines that burn no less hot. "Whispering opens in a soft percussion hush, then Truffaz sings a trumpet melody simple and sunny and sad in the brittle melancholic sound of Davis' "Time After Time. "Tantrik busts out fierce ensemble funk-rock, Truffaz completely washing and rinsing his trumpet in wah-wah effects, chopping the echoed trumpet lines back against the beat like a rhythm guitar.
"Yabous creates an exciting new sound churned with hard guitar chords and swirled with turntable scratching; Truffaz's exotic trumpet sound echoes Jon Hassel as it swims through Middle Eastern octaves, chanting in Arabic and rapping in English. Truffaz also easily works the round, lush sound of Kenny Dorham or Blue Mitchell through his trumpet in "Dubophone, though the spirit of lunatic desperate adventurism in its other instrumentation is inescapably Davis.
Five of twelve (nearly half) of these tracks feature vocals/lyrics, which is sort of unusual for a "jazz trumpet album by someone not named Chet Baker, and very unusual because most of them are chanted in Arabic by Tunisian singer Mounir Troundi. Lyricist/vocalist Nya coolly raps solo through "Big Wheel and in "Ines alongside Troundi, whose intense vocal proves positively spine-tingling. Thankfully, the booklet prints all lyrics in French, Arabic, and English.
From beginning to end, Saloua shines as a brilliant record.
Track Listing: Saloua; Big Wheel; Whispering; Yabous; Gedech; Dubophone; Ines; Tantrik; Ghost Drummer; Le Soliel d'Eline; Spirale; Et La Vie Continue.
Personnel: Erik Truffaz: trumpet, electronics, melodica; Michel Benita: bass, samples; Philippe Pipon Garcia: drums, samples, speakerphone; Manu Codjia: guitars, electronics; Mounir Troudi: vocals, bendir; Nya: vocals.