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Quartet Base: Allo ?

Mark F. Turner By

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Quartet Base is a free jazz chameleon. Viewing the group from multiple angles reveals different perspectives, each quite fascinating. Funk, rock, club, traditional, avant-garde and experimentation are like rapidly changing colors and contours of the group's changing skin. This ability is understood as the members are comprised of the Circum collective, a group of jazz musicians founded in 2000, based in the Malterie, the renown brewery/art complex in Lille, France. In this case, hearing Allo ? (rather than seeing) is believing.

Their odd-pairing of trumpet and guitar (Sebastien Beaumont and Christophe Motury) with rhythm section (bassist Nicolas Mahieux and drummer Peter Orins) throws preconceived notions about jazz quartets completely out of the window. Thriving on multifarious forms, the ten compositions are entertaining and cohesive, starting with "Chewing," a seducing track with quaking bass, Hendrix-thrash guitar, trumpet shrills and power drumming. Something totally different comes next with the all too brief "M," as Motury's puts down his horn and offers heartfelt guttural vocalizations, supported by a hypnotizing melody that begs to be explored further— a strong indicator of things to come.

This proclivity is heard throughout the remaining set. The shape shifting "Troisieme Experience" and "Deadzone"'s mesmerizing ostinato provided by Orins' human drum-machine. "Farce" is like French folk music, an intense measured dance between minimalist trumpet sounds and contentious guitar. One of the most enjoyable is tracks is "OB1," further showing Beaumont and Motury's dual attack of stellar guitar playing and voice animations, resulting in music that is like a demented hybrid of Ozzy Osbourne meets Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong.

The festive title swings and employs that European jazz touch. The two-parter "43/26" pushes the artistic boundaries with dark trumpet silhouettes, an unusual drum spot, and haunting voice work. On the caliber of artists such as Marc Ducret and Erik Truffaz, yet totally different; Quartet Base is a force to be reckoned with on this auspicious debut.

Track Listing: Chewing; M; Troisieme Experience; Le Ton De La Sirene; Deadzone; OB1; Farce; Allo ?; 43/26 (Part I); 43/26 (Part II).

Personnel: Sebastien Beaumont: guitar; Christophe Motury: trumpet, voice; Nicolas Mahieux: bass; Peter Orins: drums.

Title: Allo ? | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Circum-Disc


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