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Marc Ducret is usually experienced either as a highly noticeable sideman or, if he's leading his own band, a dangerously pointed guitar brandisher. Mostly, he's known for working with Tim Berne, as part of Bloodcount and Big Satan. This solo album reveals one of Ducret's other aspects: composer and bandleader on a particularly ambitious scale. His 10-piece ensemble sounds even bigger than that, benefiting from strategic electrification and amplification.
The material was recorded in Ducret's French homeland, mostly during a 2007 gig at the appropriately named Délirium in Avignon, with one stray piece arriving from another date in 2003. The sonic quality is outstanding for a live show; detail and depth are here, but not at the expense of harnessed live excitement. Ducret has assembled a band that breathes the air of diversity, speaking with acoustic delicacy and, when required, an enraged electric boom. Drums, bass, guitar, vibraphone and keyboards are joined by a five-piece horn section, with most players doubling or tripling on other instruments, widening the range even further. The pieces are extended, allowing for maximum dramatic development as they move through an eloquently arranged set of phases, patterns, riffs and dapples.
The opening "Total Machine" features tender guitar filigrees and marimba trinkles before levering into jagged drum stutters and hefty bass lobbing. It's a very advanced form of progressive jazz, full of complex changes, but always maintaining contact with the Bacchanalian side of cerebral. Even though a tight control is always maintained (essential when navigating such elaborate structures), Ducret courts a kind of barreling sensitivity, dense with activity and hyper-substance. Everything's always involved and intricate, yet never ponderous. The vocabulary harks back to that of early '70s prog rock, but it's now been pumped to bursting with fresh corpuscles. The horns are mostly bullish, with strong solos dealt out from the various low-end specialists. All is encompassed, from heavy riffing to translucent caresses. The epic closer, "Nouvelles Nouvelles Du Front" begins with a hovering sparseness that grows towards isolated bomb-drops, ultimately thundering into full action. Antonin Rayon's clavinet merges with Ducret's guitar, both rough with a hard-percussed attack. The leader has obviously attempted to realize all of his musical fantasies in one over-achieving gush.
Track Listing: Total Machine; Tapage; Le Menteur Dans L'Annexe; Aquatique; Nouvelles Nouvelles Du Front.
Personnel: Marc Ducret: guitars; Bruno Chevillon: basses; Eric Echampard: drums; Antonin Rayon, Paul Brousseau: keyboards; Tom Gareil: vibraphone, marimba; Matthieu Metzger, Hugues Mayot: saxophones; Yann Lecollaire: clarinets, flute; Pascal Gachet: trumpets; Jean Lucas: trombone.