329

Manu Codjia: Covers

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
Manu Codjia: Covers Is Steamin' with the Miles Davis Quintet (Prestige, 1956) a "covers" album? Not a single Davis-penned original on the record. But, of course, performing other composers' material is the jazz musician's stock in trade. No, the notion of "covers" is more recent, and its use in jazz today evokes the ironic rock-weaned hipster, exemplified by The Bad Plus's borrowings from the songbooks of Black Sabbath or Nirvana.

Now, guitarist Manu Codjia enters the fray with his own covers album. At first blush, Codjia, whose style owes as much or more to rock guitarists Jimmy Page or Jimi Hendrix as it does to jazz players, might seem to fit the bill of the studied po-mo pop-savvy slacker. But that would be a misleading impression. This record has its lighthearted moments, but it's not arch or ironic.

Indeed, though his solos frequently wail in rock-derived electric glory, Codjia's career is that of a resolute jazz man, with a decidedly old-school attention to craft. He has taken nearly five years to record his three albums as leader, each meticulously arranged and performed. Like the earlier records—Songlines (Bee Jazz, 2006); Manu Codjia (Bee Jazz, 2009)—Covers is built around the appealing format of an acoustic jazz trio with an electric lead instrument. The bass and drums are sensitively recorded, while the full sonic splendor of Codjia's electric guitar is evenly presented in the mix. He is, as ever, an imaginative soloist as concerned with the shape and texture of sounds as with the melodic lines. The novelty in his playing on this disc is a slightly grittier, John Scofield-like approach.

Some songs are pleasingly pretty, like Tom Waits' "Martha" or Leonard Cohen's "Halleluyah." Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" is true to the original's folksy character, only to explode in a swirling psychedelic interlude (a second Marley cover here, "Natural Mystic," reveals a bass line that owes its lineage to the portentous bass motif from the "Acknowledgement" section of John Coltrane's A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1964)). The only unambiguously "jazz" number is "Children's Play Song," a lesser-known Bill Evans tune from his Verve years that's among this album's subtler pleasures.

Drummer Philippe Garcia—formidably creative on the earlier Manu Codjia—often sounds uninspired by the simpler rhythmic material he has to work with here. Michael Jackson's "Beat It" is given a wittily forward beat, de-emphasizing the number's R&B elements, and on the Evans track his delicate jazz chops are evident, but elsewhere Garcia sticks to somewhat bland rock patterns.

Most compositions on previous Codjia albums were originals—elliptical, open-ended numbers like some high-modal mid-sixties Miles Davis tunes. The intrinsic approachability of the "covers" conceit might attract some first-timers to the work of this guitarist; they will not be disappointed by what they find in his larger catalog.


Track Listing: Beat It; Redemption Song; Martha; Requiem pour un con/Je t'aime moi non plus; Halleluyah; Hunting High and Low; Children's Play Song; Natural Mystic.

Personnel: Manu Codjia: guitar; Jérôme Regard: double-bass; Phillipe Garcia: drums.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Bee Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Bombogenic" CD/LP/Track Review Bombogenic
by Dave Wayne
Published: May 21, 2016
Read "Shock Axis" CD/LP/Track Review Shock Axis
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 21, 2016
Read "MG50 Peace & Fire" CD/LP/Track Review MG50 Peace & Fire
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 12, 2016
Read "Carolina" CD/LP/Track Review Carolina
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 5, 2016
Read "Looking Back" CD/LP/Track Review Looking Back
by Jim Olin
Published: March 8, 2016
Read "Parachute" CD/LP/Track Review Parachute
by Mike Jacobs
Published: September 13, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!