All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

154

Benoit Delbecq Unit: Phonetics

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
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 M

Personnel: Benoit Delbecq: piano, sampler on

Title: Phonetics | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Songlines Recordings

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

My Favourite Things
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Ink

Ink

Clean Feed Records
2016

buy
Ink

Ink

Clean Feed Records
2015

buy
 

Because She Hoped

Songlines Recordings
2012

buy
 

Circles and Calligrams

Songlines Recordings
2012

buy
 

The Sixth Jump

Songlines Recordings
2011

buy
Because She Hoped

Because She Hoped

Songlines Recordings
2011

buy

Related Articles

Read Seymour Reads The Constitution! CD/LP/Track Review
Seymour Reads The Constitution!
by Doug Collette
Published: May 23, 2018
Read Colours of Sound CD/LP/Track Review
Colours of Sound
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 23, 2018
Read A Blast From The Past CD/LP/Track Review
A Blast From The Past
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 23, 2018
Read Rhapsody CD/LP/Track Review
Rhapsody
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2018
Read You're Driving Me Crazy CD/LP/Track Review
You're Driving Me Crazy
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 23, 2018
Read Dirt...And More Dirt CD/LP/Track Review
Dirt...And More Dirt
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 22, 2018
Read "Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson" CD/LP/Track Review Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 27, 2017
Read "Big Man on Campus" CD/LP/Track Review Big Man on Campus
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 7, 2017
Read "Sovereign" CD/LP/Track Review Sovereign
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 30, 2017
Read "Wobbly Dance Flower" CD/LP/Track Review Wobbly Dance Flower
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 22, 2017
Read "Ritual" CD/LP/Track Review Ritual
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: January 25, 2018
Read "No Secrets No Lies" CD/LP/Track Review No Secrets No Lies
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 22, 2017