344

Henri Texier's Strada Sextet: Vive la Revolution!

Daniel Spicer By

Sign in to view read count
Henri Texier
Pavillion Theatre, Brighton, UK
17th March 2005

Tonight the air is full of revolt. Not just because of the fiery music on offer, or the defiant spirit of '68 embodied in the calmly radical physical presence of Henri Texier, the revolutionary elder statesman. No, tonight we almost witness another very English, middle-class, mild-mannered though slightly irritable revolution of a completely different kind.

This is the fourth date of a twelve night tour of England by this giant of contemporary French jazz, towering bassist and erstwhile collaborator with Don Cherry, Bud Powell and Dexter Gordon. The first set is billed as the Henri Texier Trio, featuring Texier with his son Sebastien on alto sax and clarinet and drummer Christophe Marguet, performing their live soundtrack to Jean-Louis Bertuccelli's semi-documentary film Remperts d'argile, which examines an isolated village in the Algerian Sahara as a metaphor for censorship and tyranny.

The trio take their places thirty minutes later than billed. House lights dim. Nothing happens. House lights go back up. Frowning technician gets up a ladder to examine the projector. Texier, stalling for time with a spoken preamble, discusses the revolutionary nature of the film, and how its political stance meant that it was never seen in Algeria. Some wit is heard to declare "it's never going to be seen here either. It's an hour since the gig was due to start. There are shouts: "Will we get a refund? "I came to see the film! "Can't we just have some music? Revolt is in the air!

By way of averting disaster, Texier skips the soundtrack and comes on blazing with the full might of the Strada Sextet, his new collective based around the nucleus of the trio, augmented by Francois Corneloup on saxophones, guitarist Manu Codja, and Bulgarian Gueorgui Kornazov on trombone. Texier says "you get less pictures, but more music. He's not kidding, either: the sextet plays for an hour and a half, largely showcasing tracks drawn from their critically acclaimed album Vivre, but in extended and wildly extemporised versions that journey to regions untouched by the recordings. It's obvious right away that Texier has quelled the mob. There will be no ugly scenes here tonight. From the outset, the audience is spellbound.

The set opens with "Work Revolt Song", mixing the North African rhythms that Texier absorbed in his youth on the cosmopolitan streets of Paris with freewheeling ensemble interplay and some muscular playing .The result is a powerful statement about choice and free-will, and an undeniably seductive call to arms. One can almost imagine Texier manning the barricades, facing down the pigs with nothing but his bass for a weapon.

It's followed by "Sacrifice", which Texier dedicates to the band itself, a daring group improvisation that establishes the concert as a kind of revelatory ritual with Texier as high priest, perched Buddha-like on a stool at the rear of centre-stage. The sense of danger is heightened as the sextet move through a series of pieces with inflammatory titles: "Too Late to be Passive", "Dance Revolt", "Silent Revolt", "Black March Revolt." Themes of freedom and dissent are thick in the air, and physically embodied through the anarchic disintegration and communistic re-emergence of group themes. There's some wild soloing here too. Manu Codja's guitar is on fire throughout, sounding like John McLaughlin and Jimi Hendrix arguing over the effects pedals. Gueorgui Kornazov is garrulous and opinionated on trombone, looking like a bad-tempered classical musician with flowing conservatoire locks and a frown of concentration.

The pieces are presented in a breathtaking range of styles: a New Orleans funeral march; a slice of blistering, up-tempo, hardest-of-the-hard bop with drums, bass and guitar sending the energy levels sky-rocketing; there's even, on "Blues for L. Peltier" - dedicated to a Native American controversially accused of murdering two FBI agents - a decent go at jazz-rock, albeit one which is slightly weakened by a Western movie-style, faux-Amerindian refrain.

Texier ends this exhilarating tour of dissent with the more reflective "Decent Revolt." As he explains, "for people who can't have the grand revolt, this is just a little one. A small revolt? Like asking for your money back, for example? The thing is, no one seems to be complaining anymore.

Photo Credit
Jos Knaepen


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kongsberg Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews Kongsberg Jazz Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Arturo Sandoval At Yoshi's Oakland Live Reviews Arturo Sandoval At Yoshi's Oakland
by Walter Atkins
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Jazz em Agosto 2017 Live Reviews Jazz em Agosto 2017
by Mike Chamberlain
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Dawn Clement Trio at Kitano Live Reviews Dawn Clement Trio at Kitano
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 14, 2017
Read Gilad Hekselman at the Cornelia Street Café Live Reviews Gilad Hekselman at the Cornelia Street Café
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 13, 2017
Read "13th Annual Uppsala International Guitar Festival" Live Reviews 13th Annual Uppsala International Guitar Festival
by John Ephland
Published: October 23, 2016
Read "Electric Hot Tuna at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center" Live Reviews Electric Hot Tuna at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center
by Doug Collette
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "Suoni Per Il Popolo 2017" Live Reviews Suoni Per Il Popolo 2017
by Mike Chamberlain
Published: June 28, 2017
Read "Jim Beard And Jon Herington At The Kennett Flash" Live Reviews Jim Beard And Jon Herington At The Kennett Flash
by Mike Jacobs
Published: June 29, 2017
Read "Mike Zito at the Iridium" Live Reviews Mike Zito at the Iridium
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: June 24, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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