148

Stephane Mercier: Flor De Luna

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Diversity of experience supplies a foundation for creative innovation. Belgian alto saxophonist Stephane Mercier confirms this axiom on his debut recording for the Fresh Sound/New Talent label.

Mercier entered the American jazz scene in 1992 when he moved from Brussels to Boston. Since then he’s straddled both sides of the Atlantic touring and residing in North America and Europe. This recording finds the saxophonist ensconced in the Big Apple and collaborating with an international cast of sidemen with whom he’s worked since his first days in America. Only his musical breadth supercedes this geographical sophistication. Mercier’s experience runs the gamut from rock to avant-garde and hip hop to Brazilian and African grooves. Flor De Luna reflects this wealth of influences and offers a diversity of sounds and formats that work well together.

The improvisation on the opening track, “Night Meanderings”, captures in one song the spectrum of styles on the rest of the album. Mercier initiates the proceedings with lines that ring familiar to ears tuned to a mainstream sound: fast angular runs; a flowing development of ideas; and dynamic range—he drops occasionally from the mid-upper reaches of his horn to deliver a brief, low honk. In stark contrast, guitarist Gromaire cranks out what constitutes essentially a rock solo. Bourgeyx’s pulsating voice on Fender Rhodes adds yet another—funky—layer. The remaining tunes on the disc accentuate aspects of this microcosm. On a number like “Fits and Starts” the ensemble opts for a traditional arrangement with Mercier, Thomas and Butler comprising a three-horn frontline and blowing in the pocket solos. On “Half Moon” and its complement, “Fool Moon”, Mark Zubek’s heavy riff punctuated by Bourgeyx’s pumping accents pave the way for Gromaire’s protracted carpet bombing that recalls Hendrix or Page rather than Kenny Burrell or Wes Montgomery.

A lot transpires on Flor De Luna in less than 45 minutes. Some highlights include the all-horn trio format of the gorgeous title track that invokes a vaguely hymn-like sensation; the leader’s flute pulses on the “Moon” series that add subtlety to the grinding riff; and Darren Beckett’s insistent hammering that provides a heavy groove to the session. Check out also the brief exchanges on “WGZFM” among the horns and later drums that supplant extended extemporization and Philippe Thomas’ feature position on “Avenue A” where the trumpeter controls both the melody and solo spotlight. These touches distinguish Stephane Mercier as an emerging innovator in contemporary jazz. Give Flor De Luna a spin and you’ll discover other gems for yourself.


Track Listing: Night Meanderings; WGZFM; Half Moon; Flor De Luna; She Sells Sea Shells; Fits and Starts; Avenue A; Samsara; Fool Moon

Personnel: Stephane Mercier

Title: Flor De Luna | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Blue Moon


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read The Princess CD/LP/Track Review The Princess
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Latin Lover CD/LP/Track Review Latin Lover
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Reclamation CD/LP/Track Review Reclamation
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Provenance CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "By A Thread" CD/LP/Track Review By A Thread
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 18, 2017
Read "Holiday On Fire" CD/LP/Track Review Holiday On Fire
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read "Peace" CD/LP/Track Review Peace
by Budd Kopman
Published: December 18, 2016
Read "Meditations on Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Meditations on Freedom
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 11, 2017
Read "Suite Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Suite Ellington
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 28, 2016
Read "Genesis, Mystery And Magic" CD/LP/Track Review Genesis, Mystery And Magic
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 6, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor