Sylvain Luc: Joko (2007)
Try not to listen to this album. I bet you won't be able to do it. With rich servings of fusion, swing, harmony, captivating guitar fills, and rhythm Joko, the new album from Sylvain Luc, is a gallimaufry of impressive musical feats.
What are those feats? Luc manages to put his finger on the pulse of so many disparate musical themes and ideas and draw them all under a record title that, appropriately, bears his name.
The album's percussion and rhythm gives the listener the feeling of being at performance of the show "Stomp" peppered with fusions of diverse influences, ranging from swing to hip hop, funk, and rock.
Luc's guitar work draws on a seemingly infinite set of influences. I was particularly struck by what seemed like a similarity to Pat Metheny, Johnny Smith, Baden Powell, Liberty Ellman, James Taylor, Pat Martino, Jacob Young, and the Delta Blues. Jacky Terrasson's piano playing is sharp, exciting, and tiptoeingly appropriate in the same way as Brad Mehldau's.
The record is fraught with sparse unpredictability, evincing the sensation of traveling a road that's being built as you're traveling it. It is a gulp of modern day drum and fife in the presence of royalty. All while taking the listener into the pages of the Arabian Nights, surrounded by the hissing of asps. Luc's soloing is like the oration of an enraptured soapbox preacher and his melodies can be lamenting almsmen crouched humbly in the shadows of an archway.
And perhaps this melody is what makes the album most listenable; in spite of all the distinct influences, the album is conjoined by Luc's resonating melodic, compositional voice. His ability to bring sensible melody to anything he touches is quite reminiscent of some of the most revered jazz stars of the last thirty years. And there is no doubt that Luc deserves his place among them as an innovator, freethinker, and original voice. His predilection for smelting what might otherwise be banalities into an intriguing and exciting product is undeniably rare and undeniably irresistible.
The ending of the record is especially captivating and delightful, but don't expect me to give it away. Go hear it for yourself.
Track Listing: Light My Fire; This Never Happened Before; Fil Bleu; Gangui; Terre Inconnue; Steppin' Out; Introguito; Fandanguito; Coral; Machination Secrete; Joko; Mean Old Man; Accalmies; Folk Print; Le Rois Dans Les Bois.
Personnel: Sylvain Luc: guitars, bass, glissentar; Pascal Rey: drums, percussion; Michel Portal: bass clarinet, b-flat clarinet; Eric Longsworth: cello; Olivier Ker Ourio: harmonica; Jacky Terrasson: piano; Keyvan Chemirani: daf, zarb, bendir, udu; Bijan Chemirani: daf, zarb, bendir, udu.