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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Benoit Delbecq / Francois Houle: Because She Hoped

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The superior recording quality, tinged with reverb and a capacious aesthetic, serves as a third instrument on this studio recording by French pianist Benoit Delbecq and Canadian clarinetist Francois Houle. Both artists occupy that progressive, cutting-edge space within modern jazz contexts. With their third duo outing, the musicians use extended techniques in an intimate setting. Here, unorthodox treatments coalesce with sublime dialogues, spiking breakouts and melodic intervals, all executed with a sense of intimacy. Ethereal, and at times economical in scope, the duo exercises rhythmic tapping maneuvers and other extraneous sounds often centered on fragile underpinnings. Delbecq's “Ando," ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Benoit Delbecq: The Sixth Jump / Circles and Calligrams

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Pianist Benoît Delbecq makes his debut trio recording with The Sixth Jump, released simultaneously with Circles and Calligrams, which Delbecq describes in a solo outing. The first disc amplifies his skills as an empathic leader whose inventive thematic explorations are woven in spontaneous interaction with his mates. The second lets him explore the dynamics of the piano elaborately, his sense of purpose expressively accomplished.Benoit Delbecq TrioThe Sixth JumpSonglines2010 Delbecq uses the vantage point of the trio to set up a series of sonic structures. He is the centrifugal force as ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Andy Milne / Benoit Delbecq: Where is Pannonica?

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Occasioned by a commission from Chamber Music America's French-America Jazz Exchange and realized during a three-week composing/recording residency at the Banff Centre in Canada in 2008, this is a fascinating project, pushing the boundaries of the piano duo format. Using Steinway D grands that were often--mostly in Benoit Delbecq's case--altered with prepared devices (objects on strings) and alternative playing techniques (strumming or hitting strings inside the piano), plus manipulating sounds with five-channel effects, the subtle use of electronics and a Dlooper audio application on some tracks, the two musicians have created unique soundscapes while managing to maintain a dominantly pianistic ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Andy Milne & Benoit Delbecq: Where Is Pannonica?

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Andy Milne & Benoit Delbecq Where Is Pannonica? Songlines Recordings 2009

Welcome to the third dimension. The product of their 2008 winter residency at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, Where Is Pannonica? seals the longstanding, twinlike affinity between pianists Andy Milne and Benoit Delbecq in one truly astonishing soundscape. And although Nantes puts itself forward as an answer to the title's inquiry, it's possible the question is instead concerned with identifying all manifestations of the late jazz loving baroness' influence--as one would with a certain Waldo--hiding in this musical shivaree. Sure ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Andy Milne and Benoit Delbecq: Where is Pannonica?

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At times while listening to pianists Andy Milne and Benoit Delbecq's Where is Pannonica? you may find yourself asking, “where is the piano?" Which isn't to say that traditional piano tones are ever completely silenced on the record, but that they are rarely the only tones. On three tunes, Delbecq is cited as using Dlooper, an audio application that, according to the pianist, is “a multi-track looper that can superimpose eight stereo channels, and output them on eight different channels." But percussive clicks and knocks and rhythmic strumming--all derived from pianos--flush out many of the other pieces as well.

Milne ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Francois Houle / Evan Parker / Benoit Delbecq: La Lumire de Pierres

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Recorded at the Innovations concert series in Montreal in 2005, this trio teams Evan Parker with the established duo of Benoit Delbecq and François Houle, who have been together for a decade. The pair is known to play a wide variety of music--from classical to world to jazz and improvisation--all of it extremely well. Both technically and temperamentally, they are suited to Parker; the threesome sound well-adjusted to each others' instincts, and should as this was not just a one-off meeting; there are plans for the threesome to tour in 2008.

The music here consists of three tracks ranging from ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Benoit Delbecq: Phonetics

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Benoît Delbecq is a unique and diligent musical explorer who deserves your listening attention. Phonetics and some recent performances provide a helpful introduction to two very developed aspects of his musical being. In his solo piano playing (heard at the Jazz Gallery last month) Delbecq used a prepared piano technique that turned his grand piano into a grand African thumb piano of sorts. It was no mere gimmick: Delbecq carefully changed the “preparations while he talked to the audience about the upcoming piece, resulting in a singular sonic landscape. The conceptual overlap between most ...

ARTIST PROFILES

Benoit Delbecq

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By Ethan Iverson

Luminous harmony, intellectual rigor, and modernist piano technique will be on display when French pianist Benoît Delbecq performs two nights early this month at Jazz Gallery. Although he has played improvised music festivals all over the world, these will be his first New York solo performances. Delbecq dramatically sets himself apart from other jazz pianists by preparing the piano with objects in the John Cage tradition. “I use mostly curved bits of dried wood and erasers from all kinds of geographical origins. It started when I was a kid with a set of mallets ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Benoit Delbecq Unit: Phonetics

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After two relatively stripped-down efforts, the duo Dice Thrown (Songlines, 2002) and solo Nu-Turn (Songlines, 2003), Parisian pianist Benoit Delbecq returns with a quintet for Phonetics, taking full advantage of the extended range of his group--stylistically, timbrally, and texturally. Delbecq's music draws from several diverse traditions, including the often counterintuitive constructs of modern classical music, the excitement and unpredictability of improvisation, and the polyrhythmic and contrapuntal complexity of Central African music.

All these big concepts have the potential of bogging down in academic abstraction, especially when combined, but Delbecq understands the pitfalls of synthesis and successfully navigates around ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Benoit Delbecq Unit: Phonetics

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What a wonderful band that pianist Benoit Delbecq has put together! This finely synchonized unit creates an exceptional ensemble sound with its dark, moody tones and circuitous melodies, playing music that sounds as if it were conceived in a cave, in murky shadows and cool and dry air. An unusual timbral mix--viola and tenor saxophone--sets the sound apart, along with drummer Emile Biayenda's distinctive rhythms.Saxophonist Mark Turner provides the biggest surprise of the set. I had him tagged as more of a mainstream guy than he sounds in this context. Perhaps the highest-profile musician here, he blends smoothly ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Benoit Delbecq Unit: Phonetics

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With an approach blending hypnotic rhythms and free-flowing improvisation with a new music sensibility that examines more oblique and mathematically precise melodies, Benoit Delbecq has already gained a certain degree of notoriety in his native France for his work with prepared piano and his four previous Songlines releases. This time around he gathers an international cast, including the constantly under-recognized Mark Turner on tenor saxophone, the equally hard-working Mark Helias on bass, ZAPP String Quartet violist Oene van Geel, and Congolese drummer Emile Biayenda. Delbecq delivers a more cosmopolitan affair on Phonetics, an album that clearly challenges the listener, yet ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Benoit Delbecq: Nu-Turn

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I've never been one to dwell on the technological aspects of a recording, but hearing Nu-Turn in six-channel surround sound must be a surreal experience. As it is, the machine on my rack dates from 1990, old enough to predate the home theater era and the advent of SACD recording, so two channels are all I've got. But regardless, there's something oddly vibrant about Benoit Delbecq's solo piano performances, an interwoven tapestry of focused improvisation, African rhythms, trance music, impressionism, and modern classical music of the most abstract sort. All those threads would probably benefit from a three-dimensional listening experience. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Benoit Delbecq and Franois Houle: Dice Thrown

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Whenever jazz musicians make a duet record, its success or failure ultimately depends on how well they can join together. Interactive conversation and a shared sense of discovery can make for a brilliant record, while unbridled extroversion or poor attention spans can render it dismal. It's all in the fragile bridge between the parts.

In the case of Dice Thrown, the interaction between French pianist Benoit Delbecq and Canadian clarinetist François Houle--who joined forces five years ago on Nancali--is many layers deep, leading to a sense of momentum and understated density. Upon superficial examination, there are no obvious ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Benoit Delbecq 5: Pursuit

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The compositions presented on Pursuit by the 'Benoit Delbecq 5' often convey a sense of buoyancy or airiness which becomes outwardly evident from the onset with the opener titled, 'Strange Loop'. Here, the dual and we might add, distinguished woodwind section of clarinetist Francois Houle and clarinetist/saxophonist Michael Moore partake in brief choruses that float atop quiet and at times undulating rhythms and subliminal electronic EFX supplied by drummer Steve Arguelles. Longtime Steve Lacy associate Jean-Jacques Avenel completes the rhythm section as the band led by pianist Benoit Delbecq and his vastly interesting compositional approach suggests a potpourri of intersecting ...



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