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Simon Moullier: Spirit Song

Dan Bilawsky BY

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Simon Moullier: Spirit Song
Simon Moullier conjures elemental tides on this remarkably fluid and ear-catching debut. The French vibraphonist—a Berklee College of Music and Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz alumnus, now living in Brooklyn—offers a glowing attack, sweeping suggestions, worldly modernism and otherworldly light in these pieces recorded over the span of several sessions between 2017 and 2020.

Coloring his work with synthesizers and subtly shining graces, drawing on tight bonds with bassist Luca Alemanno and drummer Jongkuk Kim , filling out the harmonic canvas with alternating pianists Simon Chivallon and Isaac Wilson, and swapping saxophonists Dayna Stephens and Morgan Guerin across the program, Moullier manages to create a remarkably coherent vision which is at once grounded and atmospheric. Delivering limpid lines which surprise and soar, his mallets cut to the heart of purpose and possibility.

Opening on the title track, Moullier and Guerin ride waves of energy shaped by the Alemanno-Kim cooperative. During the trance-inducing "Acceptance," featuring Stephens, the band taps into West African ideals and jazz currents, with the leader lighting things up with vibes and his custom chromatic balafon. And in "Wind Chaser," Moullier offers a kaleidoscopic thrill-ride through the cosmos. Then comes the only non-original on the album—a coolly flowing "I'll Remember April" recast in seven and supported by Chivallon's complementary comping.

The midpoint of the set—"Beings of Light"—plays to its name by drawing on the musical embodiment of luminescence. Moullier then makes his way without the band on the quickly-passing "Prophecy," shares the spotlight with Stephens on "What if," moves toward a state of repose on the dreamy "Kenyalang," and closes things out with the hip, loop-layered "Bala" for solo balafon. This mallet player may be a relatively new name on the scene, but he's already well on his way to establishing himself as a major force on his instrument(s).

Track Listing

Spirit Song; Acceptance; Wind Chaser; I'll Remember April; Beings of Light; Prophecy; What if; Kenyalang; Bala.

Personnel

Simon Moullier: vibraphone; Luca Alemanno: bass; Jongkuk Kim : drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Dayna Stephens: saxophone (2, 7); Morgan Guerin: saxophone (1, 3, 5); Simon Chivallon: piano (2, 4, 7, 8); Isaac Wilson: piano (1, 3, 5).

Album information

Title: Spirit Song | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Outside in Music

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