Louis and François Moutin are French-born twin brothers who play drums and bass. Since '97, when François relocated from Paris to New York, they've been separated by a few thousand miles, but have managed periodically to get together to tour and record as the Moutin Reunion Quartet. Saxophonist Rick Margitza joined the lineup in '04 for the group's second album, Red Moon
, and pianist Pierre de Bethmann comes on board with Something Like Now
Most of the time, the brothers are playing other peoples' musicthey're both busy session players and sidemenand the Reunion Quartet gives them the opportunity to perform their own material. Every track here, aside from the Charlie Parker collage "Bird's Medley," is written, separately, by either Louis or François.
The Moutins have remarkably similar composing styles. Because they're twins? Or because they're both rhythm section players? Je ne sais pas, but I suspect a bit of both. The tunes are mostly full-on, fierce, and upbeat, their angular themes built over brooding, ostinato-based extended riffs, light on lyricism and heavy on atmospherethe exceptions are François' balladic "Surrendering" and "Echoing," and "Bird's Melody," a 3:24 bass and drums dialogue. Think a heavied-up acoustic Weather Report and you're getting close.
The standard of musicianship is high, as you'd expect from a band led by two top sessionmen, and although the Moutins take all the writing credits, they don't hog the solo space. Margitza is up front pretty much throughout with his no-frills, full-throttle blend of Coltrane, Shorter, and Brecker. Bethmann is probably the freshest voice at the mic, and he delivers blindingly intense solos on "Echoing," "M.R.C.," and the perversely named "Take It Easy." His occasional use of the Fender Rhodes includes sonically inventive contributions to the title track and "Touch And Go."
And the bottom line? This is technically accomplished, high-energy jazz, with a well-defined aesthetic and truckloads of group interplay and muscular soloing. It is, perhaps, a touch muso-ish, and the composition base might benefit from being broadened to include other writers, but it's an often exhilarating ride.