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Henri Texier: Chance

Henri Texier: Chance
French double bassist Henri Texier gained prominence back in the early 1960s, when he was working in Paris playing alongside American expatriates such as Bud Powell or Johnny Griffin. Over the years he has played with many international greats and proven a prolific composer as well as an unparalleled foundation on bass. Yet, one could argue that his best work was created only since 2010, in collaboration with his French quintet. Featuring his son Sebastien Texier on saxophones and clarinet, the band can be described as an intimate affair between friends and kin, whose experience in years of collective improvising is expressed through fluent interplay and seamless compositional flow. Chance follows in the footsteps of Sand Woman (Label Bleu, 2018) and, while keeping to the same compositional and sonic qualities, shows that the band still has stories left to tell.

Stories, because rarely does jazz have such strong narrational leanings as in the hands of Texier. In this analogy, his bass is the driving element, setting the pace of how the plot unfolds. Vincent Le Quang and Texier Jr.'s whistling winds set the mood and explore the edges of the story's rhythm, which, like any good story, experiences dynamic shifts, owed among other things to Gautier Garrigue conjuring the occasional storm on drums. In light of this, Sébastien Texier-penned "Cinecitta" would have to be a tale of contemplation and suffering. Manu Codjia's "Jungle Jig" is a slightly more hopeful account of happenings. When not soloing, Codjia's role is one of ornamental and atmospheric proportion, outlining the landscape and general environment in which the band unravels. Somewhat Frisellian on "Simone Et Robert," his reverb-and-echo- drenched string work turns the slow ballad into a folktale, in which the overall dynamism of the group's interplay shines especially bright—the strong impact of the drums switching to double-time via ride hits on every beat halfway through the tune attesting to its fragile composure.

Each member of the group contributes one composition, the leader himself four. His first on the album, "Simone Et Robert," is on the one hand dedicated to Simone Veil, who was a Holocaust surviving French politician playing an important part in introducing the abortion act of 1975, henceforth known as "Loi Veil" and, on the other hand, to Robert Badinter, another politician who, in turn, was responsible for the abolition of the death penalty in France in 1981. The importance of these people in today's French culture cannot be stressed enough, and Texier does well in paying his respects. His Pina Bausch homage, "Pina B." is a less serious affair, though one of equally human nature — channeling the theatrical aspects of the dancer and choreographer's impactful life with bouncing post-bop rhythm and whimsical melodic ease. Garrigue and Quang's contributions ("Laniakea" and "Le Même Fleuve") are both of a mesmerizing nature, the former in a quietly atmospheric way, the latter rather drenched in a wall of sound.

As on any Henri Texier album, harmony and melody aren't ever in dissonance with each other and there are rarely more than one or two melodic themes at play within a song. Accordingly, the chordal progressions are thinly armed. Because of this rather linear environment, the players are able to create an even denser and more intense tapestry of sound that exhausts the framework to the brim and brings across each message with clarity. The title track closes the album on a high. Upper-frequency guitar shouting, thunderous drums and a driven bass pattern invite the winds to join in with an insightful motif chiming to fadeout. Chance means to be lucky. And Henri Texier feels "lucky to still be around here and today" and at the same time "lucky to be able to play with so many great musicians and have such a loyal fanbase." Those are only some of the things Henri Texier claims to feel lucky about in the liner notes and to what this album therefore is dedicated. A message of acknowledgement that transcends words and can be felt in every bar of every song on Chance.

Track Listing

Cinecitta; Jungle Jig; Simone Et Robert; Pina B.; Laniakea; Le Même Fleuve; Standing Horse; Chance.


Album information

Title: Chance | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Label Bleu

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