Monday, February 27, 2006

Bending New Corners

Bending New Corners
Blue Note 522123

Recorded 1999

Side One

1. Sweet Mercy
2. 3/4 Arroyo
3. Minaret 1

Side Two

1. Bending New Corners
2. Friendly Fire

Side Three

1. More
2. Less
3. Siegfried

Side Four

1. Minaret 2
2. Betty
3. And


PATRICK MULLER; piano, rhodes
MARC ERBETTA; drums, percussion
NYA; vocal

The huge amount of great classic jazz out there does occasionally make me think "what's the point of getting into anything new?", especially at a time when innovation in jazz seems to be ever-harder to find. But thinking this way is just plain wrong when considering an artist like Erik Truffaz.

Erik attended the Geneva conservatoire before forming his first quintet in 1991. By 1997 he had hooked up with Blue Note to record his first album for them, 'Out Of a Dream'. 'Bending New Corners' was his 3rd for the venerable label, 1998's 'The Dawn' preceding it. The music he presents here is a delicious mix of the old and the new. Truffaz' trumpet playing is heavily infleunced by Miles Davis in his use of space - 'More', for example, features Truffaz with the mute firmly in, playing a theme vaguely reminiscent of 'My Funny Valentine' - it's as if Miles had come back from the dead to play just one more gig, and a delicious taste of the kind of music Miles might have gone on to make had he lived a little longer.

As well as the classic Miles influence, there's a great deal of fusion going on - listen to the funked-up rhodes of Muller on 'Bending New Corners' or 'Less', for example. And something else - something distinctly contemporary is going on in the rhythm section. Many of the tracks feature rhythmic lines with a heavy drum'n'bass or trip-hop influence. This layering of contemporary rhythms with classic bop and fusion based soloists makes for an arresting performance. Several tracks also feature Nya, with his laid-back raps. I'm not sure these add much, and possibly even take away from the music as they leave less time for the soloists to perform.

This album was followed up with 2001's 'Revisite', an album of remixes which took the music from 'Bending New Corners' and threw out almost all the classic jazz references to create something truly modern and fresh; only Truffaz' trumpet surviving in many cases.

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