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Pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and violinist Mark Feldman are a dynamic duo within the neoteric strategies of modern jazz, coupled with their substantial artistic output. They intersperse classical inferences with shades of folk, avant-garde schemas, and bristling improvisational segments into the big picture. This incarnation of the quartet now features upper-echelon session bassist Scott Colley and venerable drummer Billy Mintz. Essentially, the artists enrich the avant-classical genre by cultivating an undertow framed on swing, bop and concise opuses tinted with the appropriate doses of razzle-dazzle and free-flight mechanisms. Birdies for Lulu is a revelation of unanticipated surprises via the quartet's seamless execution, also rooted in capacious passages, striking tonal contrasts, and a consortium of dips and spikes. The frontline enlivens the momentum with effortlessly articulated and mesmeric unison choruses amid somber dirges and soaring breakouts.
Variety is a common denominator from start to finish. For example on "Birdies for Lulu," Mintz instills a Middle Eastern backdrop with his delicate toms patterns, shaded by Courvoisier's dainty voicings and Feldman's resounding extended notes. Another important aspect pertains to how the band commingles assertive jazz choruses with capacious sound-sculpting tactics and softly moving mosaics, as you could hear the proverbial pin drop in between passages. But they close out the album with a calm-before-the-storm outlook on "Code for Capitaine," where the soloists engage in call and response processes with swirling intensity and asymmetrical stop and start grooves, offset when Courvoisier plucks the piano strings atop Colley's sawing arco notes. Yet Mintz adds another savory component with his colossal snare rolls as the quartet reshapes the proceedings with hand-claps, leading to a pleasantly bizarre finale. Indeed, Birdies for Lulu is a leading-edge exposition that accentuates the quartet's sophisticated approach and ability to sustain a high form factor of entertainment at all times.
Track Listing: Cards for Capitaine – Part 1; Cards for Capitaine – Part 2; Cards for Capitaine – Part 3; Shmear; Natarajasana; Downward Dog; Birdies for Lulu; Travesuras; Coda for Capitaine
Personnel: Sylvie Courvoisier: piano; Mark Feldman: violin; Scott Colley: bass; Billy Mintz: drums.