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Two percussionists, Sax and Tuba comprise Souffles, led by the brilliant Swiss drummer-composer, Pierre Favre. What an interesting concept?! Judging from the unorthodox instrumentation one could very well assume that this might be one of those free-jazz fests featuring inordinate doses of pounding drums and wild improvisational banter.... Not the case here.......Favre’s vision is nonetheless cohesive, vividly picturesque while showcasing his bright, cheerful compositions boasting engagingly memorable melodies along with razor-sharp ensemble work.
Pierre Favre can swing, improvise with the best or absorb the finer elements of world music while firmly planting his often-indelible stamp on matters in general. Here, Favre along with percussionist Lucas Niggli, Saxophonist Roberto Ottaviano and Tuba maestro, Michel Godard deliver the goods under the moniker, “Singing Drums” Yes, these drums sing! Favre and Niggli follow the melodies and/or thematic statements in unison often corresponding with the sonorous choruses provided by Ottaviano and Godard as in “Cabezas y Calabazas”. On “Erba Luce” the combined rhythmic development from Favre and Niggli segue into bouncy and affable melodies. Along with Godard’s fleet fingered tuba work, Ottaviano leads the sprightly yet jazzy direction while Favre and Niggli parallel the well-stated lyricism with nuance or fierce determination. “Singing Drums” quickly establish the groundwork as being a multidimensional band by way of Favre’s clever and alluring compositions and the ensemble’s passionate interplay. “Ritual To A Funeral” commences with slow dirge-like drumming which emits a somewhat eerie yet poignant atmosphere. On this piece, Godard and Ottaviano perform gorgeous well-stated choruses which rapidly evolve into moving, pensive and ultimately, very emotive motifs. More melodicism constructed around rhythmic movement is prominently demonstrated on “Que Bebe El Pez Del Marques” while Favre and Niggli turn up the heat with dazzling African rhythms on “Red Socks Dance”. On this piece Godard and Ottaviano engage in furious improvisation as Favre displays polyrhythmic fury behind the kit!
Pierre Favre’s compositions are upbeat, gleeful and remain fresh after repeated listens. Souffles is an outstanding release from Swiss-based Intakt records who rarely release anything which could be considered sub-par. Souffles is one of those rare works of art which dispels misguided conceptions of those who feel that drummers occupy limited roles in musical development. This one is a gem!!!! * * * * *
Pierre Favre; Percussion: Lucas Niggli; Percussion: Roberto Ottaviano; Saxophones; Michel Godard; Tuba, Serpent.
Cadence/North Country distributes in North America
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.