French accordionist and composer Jacques Pellarin has the welcome ability to craft music which is technically challenging, yet immediately accessible and engaging. Sup Dude is a joyous album, filled with refreshingly unpretentious tunes performed with skill and obvious pleasure by his quarteta pleasure readily communicated to others. Sup Dude follows 2010's self-produced trio date, Karenita, adding to that album's winning mix of jazz, Latin and folk music with another collection of tunes in a similar vein.
Pellarin is a superbly lyrical player, his lightness of touch showcased on the sprightly "Squeezebox Samba" and "So Frenchy." Pellarin and saxophonist Diego Fano form a great frontline partnership; the combination of accordion and saxophone is especially fruitful on the delightful melodies of "Le Temps De Souffler" and "Stevenson Bossa," where Fano's warm, reedy, tone contrasts with Pellarin's brighter sound.
On Karenita, bassist Renaud Bourquard guested on a single tune; for Sup Dude he's a full member of the group. The addition of bass helps to fill out the band's sound, giving the music more depth and richness. Most notably, his presence seems to give percussionist Yann Pajean added power and freedom when he's behind the drum kit. Bourquard's use of effects works well on the first part of the title track, when the slinky, snaky bass sound complements Pellarin's accordion; but overuse, as on the mid-section of "Irish Diversion," tends to overwhelm the other instruments. The bassist is at his most effective on tunes such as "So Frenchy," when effects are kept to a minimum and he focuses on anchoring the rhythm.
Pellarin and his fellow musicians imbue Sup Dude with a great sense of fun and a welcome lack of pretension. Pellarin's writing emphasizes catchy hooks, danceable rhythms and light, upbeat, melodies. The resulting tunes have a brightness and optimism, as well as an apparent simplicity that belies both his virtuosity and the talents of his quartet.
Track Listing: Sup Dude; Le Temps De Souffler; Irish Diversion; Stevenson Bossa; CML Song; Live at Champlong; Squeezebox Samba; Tango Addiction; So Frenchy; Luz y Fuerza.
Personnel: Jacques Pellarin: accordion; Diego Fano: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Renaud Bourquard: bass; Yann Pajean: drums, percussion.
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