All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

146

Pierre Favre Ensemble: Fleuve

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
It's hard to imagine that a group as bottom-heavy as percussionist Pierre Favre's new ensemble could actually sound light and ethereal. But Fleuve does just that. With a septet featuring two basses, tuba/serpent, percussion and, at times, bass clarinet, there's no shortage of warmth and depth. But with guitar, harp and soprano saxophone fleshing out the middle and top end, Fleuve manages to have both weight and an airy ambience that works, in no small part, due to Favre's carefully crafted compositions and the kind of sonic transparency that's long been a defining aspect of the ECM aesthetic.

Favre's writing often occupies no specific temporal space. There are elements of Renaissance and Baroque music in the blended textures, and intertwining melodies of harp, soprano saxophone, guitar and serpent on "Decors," but Favre's deeply resonant percussion gives it a forward motion that comes from either another era or locale. "Fire Red—Gas Blue—Ghost Green" bears a tenuous Middle-to-Far Eastern flavor while, at the same time, presenting a more expansive landscape and subtly persistent backdrop for solos from guitarist Philipp Schaufelberger and bass clarinetist Frank Kroll.

"Mort d'Eurydice" begins abstractly, with dark-hued cymbals coloring harpist Hélène Breschand atmospheric mix of abstruse melody and jagged chord, a bass pulse emerging to lead the ensemble into more lyrical territory referencing, again, Favre's classicism. "Panama" begins equally in the ether, with Breschand, Schaufelberger and double-bassist Bänz Oester interacting with understated freedom before settling into a lengthy theme revolving around harp and bass. A brighter melody doubled by guitar and bass clarinet ultimately emerges, leading into fleeting solos from Oester, Schaufelberger and Kroll before a brief, seemingly non sequitur of a coda.

Favre has always demonstrated a remarkable ability to make his instruments sing. A composer who combines longer form with ample integrated space for his band mates to explore, Favre's fine ear has been honed through evolving texture, movement and melody from a wide range of percussion instruments spanning the entire dynamic spectrum. While he doesn't completely desert the more rhythmic aspect of his instruments—"Reflet Sud," for example, moves inexorably and insistently forward —he remains a melodic equal alongside the other members of the ensemble.

Fleuve surpasses the not inconsiderable achievements of Favre's all-percussion Singing Drums (ECM, 1984) and relatively more conventionally configured Window Steps (ECM, 1996) through its breadth of texture and greater capacity for orchestration, despite its still small size. There are those who believe that percussionists don't make compelling composers and/or bandleaders. Favre's small but significant body of work for ECM lays waste to any such claims, with Fleuve the best argument yet.

Track Listing: Mort d'Eurydice; Panama; Albatros; Reflet Sud; Fire Red - Gas Blue - Ghost Green; Nile; Decors.

Personnel: Philipp Schaufelberger: guitar; Frank Kroll: soprano saxophone, bass clarinet; Hélène Breschand: harp; Michel Godard: tuba, serpent; Wolfgang Zwiauer: bass guitar; Bänz Oester: bass; Pierre Favre: percussion, drums.

Title: Fleuve | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ECM Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
 

Drums And Dreams

Unit Records
2012

buy
Albatros

Albatros

Intakt Records
2011

buy
Le Voyage

Le Voyage

Intakt Records
2011

buy
Vol A Voile

Vol A Voile

Intakt Records
2010

buy
Albatros

Albatros

Intakt Records
2010

buy
 

Vol à Voile

Unit Records
2010

buy

Related Articles

Read Love & Peace CD/LP/Track Review
Love & Peace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2018
Read La Saboteuse CD/LP/Track Review
La Saboteuse
by Chris May
Published: February 20, 2018
Read Memories of Maynard CD/LP/Track Review
Memories of Maynard
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: February 20, 2018
Read Cosmic Playground CD/LP/Track Review
Cosmic Playground
by Don Phipps
Published: February 20, 2018
Read For Gyumri CD/LP/Track Review
For Gyumri
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Sextet (Parker) 1993 CD/LP/Track Review
Sextet (Parker) 1993
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 19, 2018
Read "Never Stop II" CD/LP/Track Review Never Stop II
by Samuel Stroup
Published: January 28, 2018
Read "Circle of Chimes" CD/LP/Track Review Circle of Chimes
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 27, 2017
Read "Transient" CD/LP/Track Review Transient
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 3, 2017
Read "Duality: Particles & Waves" CD/LP/Track Review Duality: Particles & Waves
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 16, 2017
Read "Music in the Room" CD/LP/Track Review Music in the Room
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 10, 2017
Read "Infiltrators" CD/LP/Track Review Infiltrators
by Vitalijus Gailius
Published: December 26, 2017