The most recent disc, Phonetics, is even stronger, with Mark Turner (sax), Mark Helias (bass), Oene Van Geel (viola) and Emile Biayenda (drums). The complicated yet charismatic compositions are played very well, even though the band had only a couple of days to rehearse, perform and then record. "It was a challenge to anticipate the musical directions, since we five have very different stories to tell. I intuited that there were more than merely promising connections between our approaches. I tried to fish those out and hide them at the same time. This set of 9 or 10 tunes took me the longest time to write...probably 18 months or so. I could imagine the blend of tenor sax and viola pretty well and I could bet with no risk on how Mark Helias would anchor the sound and the breath of the band. Emile on drums was a key-point: I have toured with him and Jazz Mic Mac the whole Central African region in '94. As a child, he learned to play drums in Brazzaville, Congo, learning some of Ed Blackwell's or Max Roach's playing from records at the same time as he was becoming a master drummer of his wonderful folklore. Prior to the recording, Emile and I rehearsed quite some time to find a nice rhythmic feel for some key ideas - no doubt it made the whole project more comfortable!
It is still far more difficult for a French musician to play in New York than vice versa and Benoît Delbecq is a forward thinking musician who deserves this city's attention. Let's hope that connoisseurs and the curious-minded alike come out to hear him live and check out a different point of view.
· François Houle/Benoît Delbecq - Nancali (Songlines, 1996-'97)
· Jorrit Dykstra/Benoît Delbecq - European Echoes (BVHaast, 1995-'97)
· Benoît Delbecq - Pursuit (Songlines, 1999)
· Benoît Delbecq/François Houle - Dice Thrown (Songlines, 2001)
· Benoît Delbecq - Nu Turn (Songlines, 2001)
· Benoît Delbecq - Phonetics (Songlines, 2003)