Erik Truffaz: Mantis (2002)
The innate concord between representation and abstraction, the crucial breakthrough of 20th Century art, palpable in the work of Picasso, Matisse and Klee, has a musical counterpoint in jazz recordings such as Mantis. The quartet is Truffaz’s medium and with the support of three noteworthy musicians, of which guitarist Manu Codjia receives the most attention soloing, he manages to parlay his low to mid register brand of trumpet playing into a captivating acoustic proposal.
At times, Truffaz’s blowing technique is so understated that he resembles a flautist playing a trumpet facing down. When listening to Truffaz, one must relearn the art of hearing somewhat unexplored trumpet possibilities; although such relearning can be done with ease. Perhaps, “ease” and precision when expressing oneself, even when most abstract and muted, is what such a lesson is all about. His modus operandi works well within the swerving edges provided by the fellow members of the group, whose mutual dialogue is constantly punctuated by a felicitous brand of jumpy coarseness that adds unique textures to the offerings in this date. When need be so, however, Truffaz taunts his listeners with commanding puffs worthy of anyone’s respect.
“The Point” opens up as the drummer edges a thick substratum from the cool and relaxed bass lines, with electronic guitar punctilios that take off into challenging decompositions, after Truffaz’s initial solo. García and Benita are matchless in their percussive ideas and touches, closing it up as they give way to a punchy and edging give and take between guitar and trumpet.
“La Mémoire du Silence,” or “The Remembrance of Silence,” is a model for the use of space in jazz. It is not so much romantic as it is thoughtful with plenty of atmosphere and an edge of its own. It is ready made for Truffaz.
In “Saisir”, the drum backbeat and the guitar lines lend an air of familiarity to friendly floating riffs from Truffaz and Benita in the bass until they all join in a pulsating exploratory venture. Bravo to García for his use of the rim!
“No Fear” briefness features Truffaz with a clear line of sight and minimal pointillist support. His embracing tone is evident here.
“Nina Valeria” offers a rare composition in the history of jazz whereupon Truffaz is simply paired with one of the two special guests in this album, Anour Brahem. He plays the oud and the result is enthralling as the deep and ancient sweetness of the oud adds just the right zing to the elongated breathy harmonies from Truffaz.
“Parlophone” is an experimental tune relying mostly on vocalizations and sound effects that could serve as musical background for a scene for a science fiction film featuring a futuristic public transportation station.
Mounir Troudi is the other special guest in Mantis. He provides Arab vocalizations in “Magrouni” that interplay effectively with its odd metering and the layered response from the group. This lashing tune gets to the point in a hurry.
Truffaz makes the most out of the title cut highlighting his low sizzling heat as a précis for an equally warm statement from Codjia’s electric guitar, as well as a welcomed, albeit all too brief, bass account. It should be noted that all musicians in this tune, as well as the rest of the CD, have spanking new thoughts well worth repeated listening.
An acoustic guitar and trumpet duo in “Yasmina” provides yet another opportune pairing in Mantis and a momentary respite from the engaging nature of the previous tune. Truffaz dwells on a higher register here.
Right before the concluding “Tahun Bahu,” with a characteristic sense of engaged relaxation, the short composition “Mare Mosso” whets one’s appetite quite well as Truffaz engages in guitar like riffs that work well within a Middle Eastern percussive feel, with a concluding animal horn-like effect on the trumpet.
Stay for a few silent seconds after the conclusion for a surprise instrumental bonus...
Track Listing: 1. The Point 2. La M
Personnel: Acoustic Bass- Michel Benita. Philippe Garc