Daniel Humair – “Sweet & Sour”


Daniel Humair - "Sweet and Sour"Something I find particularly enjoyable about reviewing albums by jazz vets is thinking back over their recording and performance history, and dissecting which influences most contributed to the current album.  I mean, I understand that they all inform the current recording… creative development is a very fluid entity, not expressed linearly or via cause-effect, but as a giant lexicon of expressing existence, reality, and oneself.  But still, it’s a fun excuse to revisit old albums.

Drummer Daniel Humair is certainly a jazz vet.  A colorful career that spans back decades, he’s collaborated with a disparate group of musicians and taken to music with a varied range of approaches.  On his current release Sweet & Sour, an album typified by high-tempo pieces that prefer sharp angles and sudden motion, there could be any number of sources from his past to look back upon.

Your album personnel: Daniel Humair (drums), Emile Parisien (saxophones), Vincent Peirani (accordion), and Jerome Regard (bass).

For instance, this isn’t the first time that Humair has worked with an accordionist.  His collaboration with accordionist Richard Galliano a case in point.  Also, collaborations with multi-reedist Michel Portal must have had plenty of influence on the current release.  Portal likes to jigger the melody and tweak the rhythm in ways that sound equally unconventional and accessible, and his work with Humair certainly fell into that distinction.  And of a more recent vintage, how to overlook Humair’s work with reedist Benjamin Koppel, a musician who straddles the line between Jazz and Classical that results in a singular sound, in which he lifts sublime melodies out of thick turbulence.

But regardless of the particular roots of this music, Sweet & Sour brings a fuzzy dissonance to the mix.  For instance, on second track “Ground Zero,” accordion distillates up from a heady saxophone section.  Or how about eighth track “Debsh,” which begins sleepy-eyed, then suddenly shits into an over-caffeinated percussive drive.  A track like “Oppression,” show the quartet can be light on its toes.  Parisien trades darting quips on sax with Regard’s bass, while Humair weaves a rhythmic path between the two.  When Peirani enters on accordion, Parisien immediately switches to a harmonic role, and the two begin paralleling Humair’s trajectory. Fourth track “7A3” begins with the sound of a stroll down a Parisian thoroughfare, but begins adding the sound of cyclical surges to add a decidedly tumultuous spin on the pleasant proceedings.  And then there’s the track “Care 4” that blips and squeaks and quakes like a composition made from the elements, then takes off into flight borne by powerful wings.

And yet, even as this album repeatedly presents itself as music that fights against containment, it has a friendly charm that makes it easy to warm to.  Albums like that typically become more enjoyable with repeat listening over the course of time.  For me, that’s what happened here.  This is an album that’s both engaging and fun.

Released on the Laborie Jazz label.

Jazz from Sweden.

Available at eMusic.  Available at Amazon: CD | MP3