Pierre Favre is not only one of the most musically minded freelance drummers in modern jazz yet also leads the charmingly inventive quartet known as “Singing Drums”. And with his latest endeavor titled European Chamber Ensemble, the maestro extends his quartet with the addition of a dual string section, guitar and bass.
Favre and fellow percussionist Lucas Niggli steer the octet through a series of thoroughly memorable pieces that serve as paradigms for predominately contrasting elements. Yet the leader’s visions once again are put to realization through the musician’s sympathetic passages and expertly articulated soloing. On “Amarcord D’ Un Ross”, the percussionists surge onward via booming patterns and suspenseful developments! However, the strings pronounce a lofty presence with sonorous melodies amid tuba master Michel Godard’s pumping lines as the musicians skirt chamber-like austerity while melding propulsive rhythms along with various discourses and frenzied modern jazz style mayhem.
Basically, the band takes the listener to forbidden regions as a sense of mystery or drama prevails atop the often-fertile undercurrents, intricately executed rhythms, poignant choruses and free-style improvisation. Hence, vigor and cunning interplay along with sprightly call and response dialogue by electric guitarist Philipp Schaufelberger and saxophonist Roberto Ottaviano also mark this deeply stylized presentation, brimming with stately themes and lucid explorations. All in all, Pierre Favre’s European Chamber Ensemble is a momentous achievement. - A top pick for 2000!
Personnel: Pierre Favre; percussion: Lucas Niggli; percussion: Roberto Ottaviano; saxophones: Michel Godard; tuba, serpent: Philipp Schaufelberger; guitar: Karel Boeschoten; violine: Marius Ungureanu; Viola: Pierre-Francois Massy; bass.
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.