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Erik Truffaz in Tampere: Fusion for the 21st Century

Matthew Wuethrich By
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Old Customs Hall
Tampere, Finland
October 31, 2003

The Erik Truffaz 4tet wears two faces. One screams, "Fusion Lives!" and the other whispers in hushed tones. But after 90 minutes it becomes clear which mask they prefer-the full-out, ear-splitting fusion. Most of their eight-song set consists of open-ended jams that show both brilliant flashes and tedious moments, often coming in rapid succession on the same tune.

The 4tet display many exciting ideas, most of them merging rhythm and melody in a blistering, electric mix. They make a flashy, muscular sound but not very many memorable tunes. But that's alright, since they take their cue from the dark funk of 70s Miles, where texture and rhythm dominate. Truffaz's liquid-toned trumpet soars and jabs at the heavy rhythm laid down by drummer Marc Erbetta and bassist Marcello Giullani. Keyboardist Patrick Muller lays out piercing solos and comps with shimmering chords, then creates another pulsing layer with looped percussive textures.

They stir up a highly energetic brew for sure, but then they keep stirring, stretching the jams out without any real change in dynamics or texture. If something sounds good, play it again. And again. And again.

On two pieces, "The Walk of the Giant Turtle" and "Wilfried" they reveal a more restrained side, a side interested in composing deep, improvised moods. The former sets off with a beat-box loop and plucked piano strings for propulsion, then Truffaz muted and Erbetta with metal mutes on his toms and snares evoke a more mysterious sound world. "Wilfriend" works more like down-tempo acid jazz, with echoing Rhodes and Trufaz with his breathy yet bold sound bringing some depth to the melody.

When Truffaz's 4tet learns to temper the scream with the whisper, their up-beat update of fusion could achieve real, lasting expressive power.

Complete coverage of the 2003 Tampere Jazz Festival...
Tampere Jazz Happening: Speaking a Universal Language
Wibutee in Tampere: Club Music and Jazz Collide
Erik Truffaz in Tampere: Fusion for the 21st Century
The Bad Plus in Tampere: Cinematic Trio Images
The Electrics in Tampere: All-Acoustic Electricity
Kornstad Trio in Tampere: Improvisation as Negotiation
Scorch Trio in Tampere: If Hendrix and Coltrane had a Love Child...
Uri Caine's Bedrock 3 in Tampere: Too Many DJs
Gnomus & Jukka Gustavsson in Tampere: The Wit of the Improviser
William Parker's Healing Song in Tampere
Samuli Mikkonen in Tampere: Composed Moods and Spontaneous Energy
Louis Sclavis in Tampre: Memories of a Naples that Never Was


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