While most people think of the alphabet as a collection of letters which act as the building blocks for words, Sylvain Rifflet probably isn't one of them. The French reed multi-instrumentalist seems to subscribe to the broader definition, which states that an alphabet is really "the basic elements in a system which combine to form complex entities." His Alphabet presents an ensemble using electronics, sound manipulation, minimalism, classical ideals, film score suggestions, trance musicand, yes, jazzas the "basic elements" that lead to the "complex entities" that are his compositions.
Rifflet's pieces can best be viewed as hypnotic sound collages for quartet. While no two numbers sound the same, Rifflet does revel in the opportunity to create balance between change and consistency throughout. This can be heard immediately in the balance between flautist Jocelyn Mienniel's soloing and the backing parts on "Hyper Imaginative JuKe (Box) (Part 1)," but it's also noticeable throughout, with percussionist/drummer Benjamin Flament's steady work countering other elements at play. The relationship between Rifflet and Mienniel is also a key to the success of the music, with both musicians often dovetailing with, and playing off of, one another.
While it takes a track or two to acclimate to Rifflet's world, it proves to be a wonderful place to visit once the ear has made its adjustment. "To Z" has a slow, steady churn to it, "® and Silence" is a trippy journey launched with breathing-based beat boxing, "À l'heure" starts out with percussive metal clanging and arrives at a pleasant, pastoral woodwind scene and "C
Track Listing: Hyper Imaginative JuKe (box) (part 1); Hyper Imaginative JuKe (box) (part 2); Electronic Fire Gun; To Z; ® and Silence; À l'heure; Q; C≠D (part 1); C≠D (part 2); A=B; Vowels, Kids & Ballons.
Personnel: Sylvain Rifflet: saxophone, clarinets, metallophone, electronics; Jocelyn Mienniel: flutes, electronics; Benjamin Flament: percussion, electronics; Philippe Gordiani: guitars, electronics.
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.