Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Laurent Coq / Walter Smith III: The LaFayette Suite


Laurent Coq / Walter Smith III: The LaFayette Suite


Sign in to view read count
Laurent Coq / Walter Smith III: The LaFayette Suite
In The LaFayette Suite, two exceptional musicians—French pianist Laurent Coq and American saxophonist Walter Smith III—continue the spirit of collaboration which interestingly enough began around 1777 between French nobleman / military officer Marquis de Lafayette and President George Washington during the American Revolutionary War. In a suite funded by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation and the French American Jazz Exchange program, the project's historical inspiration brings to life the adventures of LaFayette, an aristocrat, decorated soldier, and ardent abolitionist whose accomplishments made a vast difference in reshaping countries and comraderies.

Coq has produced a number of exceptional releases including 2012's Rayuela (Sunnyside) co-led with alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon. The pianist's imaginative lyricism is the perfect foil blend with Smith's commanding and flowing tenor who is fast becoming one of today's profound saxophonists having performed with the likes of trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire drummer Eric Harland. The two are augmented by the burning rhythm section of bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Damion Reid in a ten part suite fueled by its thought-provoking subject matter world class musicianship.

When listened to in its entirety the music's narrative unfolds in consecutive chapters written by Coq and Smith. A sublime piano and sax dialog in "Comte de Brogle"'s sets the mood resembling a classical sonata that emerges into a melodious structure. These chapters contain rapidly changing structures, sweeping movements and unexpected turns like the effervescent melody in "Charleston, South Carolina, June 13 1777" and the infectious swing in "The Battle of Brandywine" where Smith and Cog stoke the flames.

These are artists executing at the height of inventiveness—an emotive bowed bass line, fiery drum runs, and romantic themes. The quartet operates on an almost subliminal level executing the art of composition and improvisation. The music envisions the historical accounts in dramatic form—Lafayette's departure to America in "Pasajes de San Juan" or the sizzling harmony in "Valley Forge." The cool thing, though, is that it takes no knowledge of these 18th century events to enjoy this vibrant program 21st century music.

Jazz in particular is an art form of individualism but more so, partnership, as this outstanding recording illustrates.

Track Listing

Comte de Brogle; Baron Johan de Kalb; Pasajes de San Juan; Charleston, South Carolina, June 13 1777; Major Benjamin Huger; General George Washington; The Battle of Brandywine; Valley Forge; Comte de Rochambeau; Yorktown.


Laurent Coq: piano; Walter Smith III; Joe Sanders: bass; Damion Reid: drums.

Album information

Title: The LaFayette Suite | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Jazzandpeople



For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.



Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.