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Olivier Calmel Quartet: Empreintes

John Barron By

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French pianist/composer Olivier Calmel enjoys a prosperous career scoring music for film. In between movie projects, however, the Paris-based musician finds time to lead and compose for creative jazz projects. On Empreintes, Calmel combines elements of 20th century classical music and jazz fusion to create a vibrant set of fresh thematic material supported by an intense rhythmic drive.

The opening "Prologue" works well as an introductory showcase for Calmel's orchestrating technique. Here, the pianist brilliantly manipulates a single line throughout the ensemble. Pieces like "Temperament?," "Un mystere," and "Trois messes basses" display short bursts of thematic layering, keeping the disc moving in unpredictable fashion.

The pianist proves a fluent improviser on "D'humeurs changeantes," a rocked-out piece featuring distorted piano sound effects, and the more introspective "Epistrophe." Much like his composed lines, Calmel's ideas flow easily, never getting too bogged down or waning in interest.

Calmel's core group on the disc consists of violist Frederic Eymard, drummer Karl Jannuska and bassists Bruno Schorp and Jean Wellers. All are top-notch instrumentalists and featured prominently throughout. Stand-out performances include Schorp's funky bass soloing on "D'humeurs changeantes," Jannuska's insatiable drumming through the rhythmically-charged "Travelling Mafate" and Eymard's free-form bowing on "Rage-sacrifice humain." The ensemble is augmented on a few tracks by accordionist Vincent Peirani, soprano saxophonist Christophe Panzani and percussionists Remi Merlet and Alvaro Martinez.

Track Listing: Prologue; Travelling Mafate ; Temperament?; D

Personnel: Olivier Calmel: piano; Frederic Eymard: viola; Bruno Schorp: bass and electric bass; Jean Wellers: bass; Karl Jannuska: drums; Vincent Peirani: accordion; Christophe Panzani: soprano and tenor sax; Remi Merlet: percussion; Alvaro Martinez: percussion.

Title: Empreintes | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Musica Guild

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