Who the heck is Olivier Le Goas, and why do you need to know about him, like, tout de suite?
The 39-year-old drummer, who's much better known in Europe than he is here, has studied classical music, has led trios and other groups in his native France, and has even played in New York with some of the hippest guys around.
Gravitations should serve as his coming-out party. It's full of ambitious and spiky hard bop compositions, played with what can only be called gusto. Le Goas lays into numbers like "Padouana" and "Radio-Chaise" like he's trying to assault someone, but he is also capable of great and gentle lyricism. This is a record to be dealt with.
Le Goas has assembled an amazing band here, teaming with Drew Gress (!) to form a cooking rhythm section while Ralph Alessi (!!) and John Abercrombie (!!!) float above and below and sideways and all over the place. These talented musicians bring some very real tension to even the quietest pieces, but they shine a little more on up-tempo tracks; Alessi's solo on the opener, "Gagliardi," turns it in a heartbeat from pleasant fusion to something more dangerous and lovely. And Abercrombie, who is a legend, plays more like a young hungry punk, tossing off feedback-laden doom-lines as easily as he knocks off Charlie Christian-type licks.
But when it comes down to it, Le Goas is still very much in charge. His playing drives everything, and that's okay by me, although he might want to think twice about relying quite so much on the tappy-tappy cymbal thing next time out. But get to know him nowOlivier Le Goas is gonna be huge over here.