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Benoit Delbecq 5: Pursuit

Glenn Astarita By

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The compositions presented on Pursuit by the 'Benoit Delbecq 5' often convey a sense of buoyancy or airiness which becomes outwardly evident from the onset with the opener titled, 'Strange Loop'. Here, the dual and we might add, distinguished woodwind section of clarinetist Francois Houle and clarinetist/saxophonist Michael Moore partake in brief choruses that float atop quiet and at times undulating rhythms and subliminal electronic EFX supplied by drummer Steve Arguelles. Longtime Steve Lacy associate Jean-Jacques Avenel completes the rhythm section as the band led by pianist Benoit Delbecq and his vastly interesting compositional approach suggests a potpourri of intersecting themes enhanced by the often brilliant soloing. The musicians perform with grace and comfort as though they were traversing mountain roads while taking in the sights and admiring the autumnal landscape.

The subtly majestic style changes course a bit on the appropriately titled, 'U-Turn' featuring guest artist, guitarist Marc Ducret who provides a slightly dissonant edge as he pursues subdued distortion, tricky harmonics and treatments. The quiet intensity returns on 'Polders' thanks to the probing lines of the dual clarinetists Moore and Houle while Delbecq serves as the colorist who frequently delivers the counterblow with rich harmonic chord voicings and delicate right hand leads. Delbecq's compelling introduction, complete with circular passages and thought provoking themes on 'Bogolan' sets the stage for nimble dialogue among the three soloists backed by strong rhythmic support which includes weaving patterns along with a noticeable sense of space and depth. On this piece, Michael Moore cleverly taps the keys on his clarinet assisting with the percussive attack as Arguelles shifts time and meter via cunning implementations of polyrhythms while directing the general flow with flair and emotion.

In summary, Pursuit is all about underlying themes that transgress rather seamlessly. Part of the beauty of this recording resides in the transient nature of these pieces as though the musicians were moving about or continuing their journey looking to explore new terrain or to take in the scenery as a group of artists on a mission seeking inspiration for further endeavors. Recommended!

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Personnel: Benoit Delbecq; Piano, Composer: Francois Houle; Piano: Michael Moore; Clarinet, Bass Clarinet & Alto Sax: Jean-Jacques Avenel; Bass:Steve Arguelles; Drums and Electronics.

Title: Pursuit | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Songlines Recordings

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