Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

187

Michel Donato: Michel Donato et Ses Amis Europ

By

Sign in to view read count
The mid-'60s Blue Note sound permeates Michel Donato et ses Amis européens, the veteran Québec bassist's new CD. True to the album's title, Donato's teamed with Polish trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik and three non-native Parisians (guitarist Michael Felberbaum, drummer Karl Jannuska and tenor saxman François Théberge). Every musician contributes at least one composition (there are three by the leader) and the result is unrevolutionary but profoundly engaging and rhythmically fascinating post-bop jazz.

I have waxed enthusiastic about Jannuska's brilliant, imaginative drumming many times previously. Let us then simply state that his playing elevates this session immeasurably. Indeed, the absence of a keyboard player on this session puts all the rhythmic responsibility on Jannuska and Donato. They discharge this responsibility wonderfully: despite the merits of the other three players, this is a CD where the real action is down below. Jannuska can always be accused of overplaying but there's a formal rigor, even an archness to his playing that suggests he's in charge of his technique—not vice-versa. Donato's never as upfront as Jannuska—Felberbaum's tune "Open Closer contains little more than Donato repeating a bass vamp—but the impact of the leader and drummer interlocked is powerful indeed. Felberbaum does comp, usually under Théberge's solos, but his presence in this area is wisely understated; he stays out of Jannuska's and Donato's way.

The music's all pretty Blue-Notey. Wojtaskik's "Hope has some archetypal hard-bop harmonies in its head, but its asymmetric structure and shifting time is more Tony Williams than Art Blakey. Wojtasik contributes a fine solo that is reminiscent of Freddie Hubbard (he's said to be known as the Polish Marsalis, but his fondness for long, sustained, sighing notes, as in "Open Closer, calls to mind Miles Davis more than anyone else—despite his equal love of more vehement, rapidfire phrasing).

Felberbaum's "Dog, with its Mingus-meets-Mancini theme, is a complete winner. Felberbaum's winking, insinuating solo dashes around Donato's walking bass and Jannuska's exquisite snare work. Jannuska builds and releases tension around Théberge's following solo, Théberge's notes seeming to dart up and above Jannuska's press rolls—like a bright canary darting out of the paws of a cat.

Théberge's "Vin Neuf is an optimistic ballad with a moving, openhearted harmonized theme and a deeply knowing bass solo where Donato finally steps entirely to the front of the session, Felberbaum comping poignantly in support. If this music has any "European flavor, this tune embodies it: there's a sweetness and Old World melancholy in the playing despite the entirely American origin of the Blue Note template.

Another fine album from the Effendi label. It should be pointed out that this is not music whose excellence is immediately apparent; indeed, a much less favorable review was written and then scrapped when repeated listens revealed the CD's true quality. Skeptical first-time listeners of Michel Donato et ses Amis européens are therefore encouraged: keep playing it!


Track Listing: 1. Open Closer 2. Tremay 3. Hope 4. Bleu Sur le Vif 5. Dog 6. Have You Met Mr. Jones 7. Dolphy's Coming 8. Vin Neuf 9. Duet Now

Personnel: Michel Donato: acoustic bass; Fran

Title: Michel Donato et Ses Amis Europ | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Effendi Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Formidable CD/LP/Track Review Formidable
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Cochonnerie CD/LP/Track Review Cochonnerie
by John Sharpe
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Threes CD/LP/Track Review Threes
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Smoke CD/LP/Track Review Smoke
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Acknowledgement CD/LP/Track Review Acknowledgement
by Don Phipps
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Lessons And Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review Lessons And Fairytales
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Miles Goes Wes" CD/LP/Track Review Miles Goes Wes
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "The Picasso Zone" CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "Invisible Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Hand
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "Gentle Giants" CD/LP/Track Review Gentle Giants
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 29, 2017
Read "June" CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Wobbly Dance Flower" CD/LP/Track Review Wobbly Dance Flower
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 22, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor