Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

154

Benoit Delbecq Unit: Phonetics

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Benoit Delbecq Unit: Phonetics After two relatively stripped-down efforts, the duo Dice Thrown (Songlines, 2002) and solo Nu-Turn (Songlines, 2003), Parisian pianist Benoit Delbecq returns with a quintet for Phonetics, taking full advantage of the extended range of his group—stylistically, timbrally, and texturally. Delbecq's music draws from several diverse traditions, including the often counterintuitive constructs of modern classical music, the excitement and unpredictability of improvisation, and the polyrhythmic and contrapuntal complexity of Central African music.

All these big concepts have the potential of bogging down in academic abstraction, especially when combined, but Delbecq understands the pitfalls of synthesis and successfully navigates around them. He does this by endowing each piece with its own mood and character, finding fresh settings for each musician, and managing the sometimes precarious balance between ideas and momentum. The opening "Le Mème Jour" starts out briefly entangled, then resolves into a plaintive, gentle unison melody and eventually acquires steam and rhythmic energy, driven in large part by enthusiastic synergy between Congolese drummer Emile Biayenda and American bassist Mark Helias.

While most of Delbecq's compositions seem to fit together by careful assembly of shifting parts, they also melt into jam-like grooves on occasion. The highly percussive funk polyrhythms of "Yompa" serve as a platform for flitting piano phrases and snippets of pentatonic viola, returning to its oblique melody almost as an amnesiac reminder before splintering it apart and landing unexpectedly in unison.

This exceptionally well-recorded disc (released as an SACD hybrid) is perfectly suited to reveal timbral nuances and detail. Like pretty much everything on the Songlines label, you'll get a whole lot more out of the music if you listen carefully—this isn't background after-dinner music, that's for sure. But Phonetics is far more than the sum of its (already substantial) parts; it's a vibrant celebration of possibility and connectedness that reveals new things with each listen.

Visit Benoit Delbecq on the web.


Track Listing: Le Mme Jour; Multikulta; Zao Wou-ki; Pointe de la Courte Dune; The Elbow Room, Vancouver; 4MalW; Yompa; Au Louvre.

Personnel: Benoit Delbecq: piano, sampler on 4MalW?"; Mark Turner: tenor saxophone; Oene van Geel: viola; Mark Helias: bass; Emile Biayenda: drums.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Songlines Recordings | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Hear & Now CD/LP/Track Review Hear & Now
Read Known-Unknown CD/LP/Track Review Known-Unknown
Read Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival CD/LP/Track Review Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival
Read Stinger CD/LP/Track Review Stinger
Read Binary CD/LP/Track Review Binary
Read Piano Song CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
Read "Lubbock (on everything)" CD/LP/Track Review Lubbock (on everything)
Read "Live At Zaal 100" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Zaal 100
Read "Chance Meeting" CD/LP/Track Review Chance Meeting
Read "Sharpener" CD/LP/Track Review Sharpener
Read "Detour" CD/LP/Track Review Detour
Read "Never Group" CD/LP/Track Review Never Group

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!