Following up his 1998 debut album, Tenor Joke, with a 2002 release, Cassiopee, French tenor saxophonist Jean-Christophe Beney now provides a new effort on the Canadian Effendi label.
Beney's formidable bebop styling is notable for its fluency and attention to lyricism. Unlike many other "new" players, his playing doesn't employ jagged or fragmentary lines and his solos maintain a sense of melody. A comparison with the mid-1950s recordings of Stan Getz or Sonny Rollins would not be inappropriate. The compositions, all originals, are not as distinct as Rollins' classic recordings of that time, but Beney's work and the dynamics of his combo lift this album a notch.
The quartet adds three guests on separate tracks. The most impressive is conguero Arnaud Frank. The opening "Freetown" begins at mid-tempo pace, then picks up intensity with Beney's lengthy solo, followed by impressive statements from Pierre de Bethmann's piano and Frank's conga. The Latin (or African) percussion provides an underpinning for the tune and showcases the group most positively. Frank is only present on one other song, the ballad "Song Hong," and he utilizes a more subtle rhythm there.
Guitarist Michael Felberbaum appears on "Easy Easily." After brief opening statements from the guitarist and bassist Vincent Artaud, Beney and Felberbaum play a unison melody line before the tenor sax solo. Vocalist Meta appears on "Chinh's Wish," singing blurry French lyrics with a wash of colors from de Bethmann's Fender Rhodes. There is also a brief, untitled hidden track.
In addition to the work of Jean-Christophe Beney, the group dynamics are significant. Pierre de Bethmann divides his keyboard time equally between acoustic and Fender Rhodes, Artaud provides a solid acoustic bass, and Karl Jannuska contributes strong drumming. All are definite assets.
1. Freetown 2. Choices 3. Song Hong 4. Hologram 5. Orbit 6. Parisian Hubbub 7. Easy Easily 7. Chinh's Wish