The first thing that grabs you when you pick up Red Moon is the design of the case, a clever cardboard entity with a cool circular hole that can give you every phase of the moon when you rotate the disc inside. Spend a few seconds playing with that, and then get into the music. This group, born in 1999, recorded Power Tree a couple years back, and after changes in personnel and geography it's back with more solid, interactive modern jazz.
The twin brothers Moutin form the rhythm section and the core of the group. François and Louis play bass and drums, respectively, but their voices usually merge into a seething mass of protoplasm. It's most emphatically propulsive, forward-looking, and restless. Bassist François Moutin takes an alert, assertive approach to his instrument, pounding home off-kilter, widely spaced intervals that seem to nestle in the corners of the music and draw them out. Louis Moutin tends to bounce and roll, not at all afraid to ride a groove, but at the same time eager to flesh it out with unexpected accents and shifts. Together, they're a formidable team.
Pianist Baptiste Trotignon returns from the first record. When the music drops in pace, he enters into a romantic dream state, as on the soft "Soraya." But one tune later he jumps into the rhythm section with syncopated stabs and thrusts. The electric version of his instrument, unannounced in the liner notes, provides texture down the road. Saxophonist Rick Margitza (of Miles Davis fame) replaces Sylvain Beuf. His voice has a magnetic, lyrical quality that reins in the otherwise adventurous urges of the group. At times you wish he would step out closer to the edge, but that's just not his style.
The brothers Moutin have an uncanny understanding that manifests itself most prominently in the deceptively simple opening duet, "La Mer (Beyond the Sea)." But when taken together as a whole, the Moutin Reunion Quartet epitomizes the strengths and open possibilities of jazz today, and that's not an exaggeration at all.
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