Involutions is the fifth recording by Springbok, a quartet based in France and led by organist Matthieu Marthouret. Its other members are trumpeter Julien Alour, saxophonist Robby Marshall and drummer Thomas Delor. According to Marthouret, the reunion embodies and amplifies elements of its previous albums: the fun of playing, optimism, a sense of collectivism, the notion of contrast.
Each of those components is certainly here, nestled among the album's eleven (twelve?) tracks, all of which are original compositions by Marthouret. There is fun ("Pigeon on a Chessboard," "Roots"), contrast ("Open Air," "Prelude en ut Mineur," "Certain Incertitude"), optimism ("Fragments," "Bounce Neuf") and collectivism ("Hymn," "Whirls," "Social Credit"), and Marthouret brings them together on "Time," arguably the most charming among a sequence of well-drawn compositions. While the album lists only eleven numbers, there is a twelfth (unlisted and unnamed), more genteel than most of the others but no less rewarding.
Unlike many organists, Marthouret doesn't brandish the whip hand, dwelling largely in the shadows until he chooses to step forward to solo or smoothly underline statements by Alour or Marshall. Even so, he leaves much of the comping to Delor. That's a good thing, as albums led by organists can become showpieces for their bombast. Such is clearly not the case on Involutions, wherein Marthouret seems perfectly content to lie low and share the spotlight with his teammates.
When Marthouret does speak, he does so clearly and without imposture, as do Alour and Marshall (on tenor sax or bass clarinet). Delor simply marks time, and does so with intuitive assurance, keeping the performance on an even keel. This is a very good album by a very good quartet of seasoned jazz musicians from the eastern side of the Atlantic Ocean.
Pigeon on a Chessboard; Open Air; Fragments; Hymn; Roots (D.W Part. 1); Prélude en Ut mineur;
Whirls; Time (D.W Part. 2); Social Credit; Certain Incertitude; Bounce neuf.
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