The baritone saxophone is right at the heart of Céline Bonacina's Open Heart, her second album for ACT Music. This particular sax is too often consigned to the role of "rhythm saxophone," operating at the lower reaches of its register, with only a handful of players making full use of its potential. Bonacina, a French saxophonist and composer, is one of that handful. Her command of the instrument enables her to bring it to the forefront of her music, giving it a lead role in hard-blowing funky tunes, melodic, up-tempo songs and romantic ballads alike.
Throaty and ripe in its lower register, often plaintive and surprisingly sweet at the upper end of its range, Bonacina's baritone sound has a striking musical and emotional depth. Her trio is completed by electric bass guitarist Kevin Reveyrand and drummer Hary Ratsimbazafy, while guest musician Pascal Schumacher makes a distinctive contribution on vibes and glockenspiel, adding beautifully judged solos to "Bayrum" and "So Close So Far" and joining Bonacina in some silky unison playing on "Out Of Everywhere."
Bonacina makes full use of the baritone's deep, rich tones on "Wild World," with Mino Cinelu's percussion adding to the vibrant "jungle" atmosphere. She uses the same sound to great effect on the bluesy "Snap The Slap" and combines raw-edged funk with upbeat melody lines on Reveyrand's up-tempo "Watch Your Step." On "Open Heart," her playing has a subtler edge, a more romantic tone that is complemented well by Reveyrand and Ratsimbazafy's restrained playing. Himiko Paganotti sings her own lyrics beautifully on the first part of "So Close So Far," which features Bonacina on alto. However her wordless, often multi-tracked, vocals on tunes such as "Desert" and "Circle Dance" tend towards the repetitive and feel detached from the instrumental sounds they accompany.
"Lonely Dancer," written by [em]'s Michael Wollny and recorded live at the ACT Music Jubilee concert in Hamburg in early 2012 with Wollny on piano and Lars Danielsson on double bass, stands apart from the other tunes on Open Heart. The three acoustic instruments blend together beautifully on this restrained and meditative ballad, with Bonacina gracefully crafting the melody line on her trademark baritone.
Souffle D'Un Songe; Circle Dance; Wild World; Bayrum; So Close So Far; Watch Your Step; Out Of Everywhere; Pierrot; Desert; Open Heart; Snap The Slap; Lonely Dancer.
Céline Bonacina: baritone saxophone, alto saxophone (5), soprano saxophone (9); Kevin Reveyrand: electric bass; Hary Ratsimbazafy: drums; Himiko Paganotti: vocals (2-5, 9, 11); Pascal Schumacher: vibraphone, glockenspiel (1, 4, 5, 7); Michael Wollny: piano (12); Lars Danielsson: bass (12); Mino Cinelu: percussion (3, 9).
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