Eight Fragments of Summer is French pianist Laurent Coq's seventh recording as a leader and his fourth quartet release. A personal ode and memoir to a full summer in New York, in the heat of the city that never sleeps, Coq has recruited an equally hot group including bassist Joe Sanders
, drummer Damion Reid, and saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh
, who is also from France.
An award-winning composer/film scorer who's well lauded in his homeland, Coq finally crossed the line of total independence to create his own 88Trees label. This celebratory release swings with panache and is infused with touches of bop and modern classical and impressionism. In the order of seminal artists and fellow countrymen Jean-Michel Pilc
and Baptiste Trotignon
, Coq has the skills and acumen to not only provide the roots of jazz but also to press forward toward new ground.
The quartet's synergy is contagious. Sabbagh is known for his expressive tenor and recordings of new material or fresh interpretations of standards like One, Two, Three
(Bee Jazz, 2009). Sanders is the sure anchor, while Reid, whose fiery sticks are reminiscent of Nasheet Waits
, has performed with saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa
and many others. The ease with which they communicate and perform together elevates Coq's imaginative music.
A sunny mood suffuses the recording"Merry-Go-Round"'s spinning turns of marching cadences and modal swing, guided by Sander's sinewy strings and Reid's skittering beats. His feathery drums are quite engaging on "Robert Mentre," as Sabbagh and Coq's voices sing the melody.
Coq's empathy is witnessed on "K.K," dedicated to the great Kenny Kirkland
and marked by rich lyricism and the perfect balance of tension and releaseeach performer and instrument delineated and focused as one. "Eight Seasons in One Summer" and "Circle 57" simply dance. The former is an odd-metered swinger with lightening piano and emboldened sax; the latter, a tune of mirth, astute discipline and a wonderful solo by Sabbagh.
The recording closes with two beauties: "Chasing Shadows," where the rhythm section leads the movement from delicate suppleness to dramatic swells; and the peaceful solitude of "Already Gone," akin to a captivating sunset view. A momentous and enjoyable work, Eight Fragments of Summer captures all of the joys of the season without the oppressive heat.