Although the Belgian music scene is rich and varied, it is much neglected outside its national borders, as evidenced by the case of Aka Moon, an extraordinary trio that has celebrated 25 years of activity, but is still practically ignored by the foreign media. Let's hope the same does not happen with this new young talent, the drummer Antoine Pierre, and his group Urbex, already among the main protagonists of the 2020 edition of the Brussels Jazz Festival.
Suspended was recorded live in January 2020 at the aforementioned festival hosted by the Cultural Center of Flagey. That night the music was introduced as "Variations on Bitches Brew," a tribute to electric Miles Davis through original compositions by Pierre. For the occasion, his usual sextet, in which in particular stand out the trumpeter Jean-Paul Estiévenart, pianist Bram De Looze and guitarist Bert Cools (all musicians already well established on the Belgian scene, and names to watch) had become Urbex Electric with the presence of three guests, Ben van Gelder on soprano sax, Jozef Dumoulin on Fender Rhodes, and Reinier Baas on guitar, in order to recreate with a more appropriate instrumentation the sounds of the Davis album which had been taken as a reference, but without the intention of doing just a simple re-reading.
Certainly an ambitious project, but one that can be considered successful. From the opening "Steam" we find ourselves immersed in the boiling atmospheres inspired by Davis' masterpiece, made possible by solid and rigorous writing that combines composition and improvisation. The set then continues through more calm and meditative moments such as the long "What U Expect!" (reminiscent of the Davis composition "Sanctuary"), framed between two tracks (the two "Abstracts") where we can appreciate the electronic textures, before returning to the groove of "You Nod But You Ain't" that leads to the final track, "Sound Barrier," passing through a drum solo highlighting the leader's skills. The concert ended with the performance as an encore of "Directions," that was the theme song of the live electric Davis, but it is not included on the CD.
In addition to Pierre's extraordinary composing talent, the interplay and cohesion shown by the whole group (bassist Félix Zurstrassen and percussionist Frédéric Malempré complete the lineup) merits mention. All the musicians contribute to the final result as a collective, through a series of musical interlockings that can be best appreciated through repeated listenings . One of the best albums released in 2020.
Steam; Obsession; Abstract: Peace; What U Expect!; Abstract: Tide; Feather; You Nod But You Ain't; Drums Take Over; Sound Barrier.
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