Sep 25 2014
It’s not so easy finding good bass clarinet-led albums. One such 2014 release I’ve been enjoying is Bleu Archipel 2, the new one from Thomas Savy. Savy maintains a nice flow on bass clarinet, developing a necessary lyricism without tempering the instrument’s attractive edginess. As a result, the music on this recording is, at times, both moody and combustible.
The up-tempo opening track “No Time, No Time” allows Savy to go to town and illustrate the strength of the bass clarinet. Pierre de Bethmann gets his Fender Rhodes to develop a nice space-y vibe and add a bit of fuzziness to the cadence’s perceived speed.
“Anyway” is a bit of cool blue swing. Bethmann switches over to piano, and provides some nice accompaniment for guitarist Michael Felberbaum‘s solo before taking a lively solo of his own. Bassist Stéphane Kerecki walks the beat up and down the length of the song.
The title-track is arguably the best thing on this album. Savy sings out the most beautiful melody on bass clarinet, with piano and drums providing some light and dark shading at the edges, a comforting murmur. When Felberbaum’s guitar solo applies some heat, the risk is that the opening’s gorgeous, peaceful ambiance gets shattered. But the serenity doesn’t crack, and when the group returns to that lovely sound to conclude the song, it comes off like it had never left to begin with. “Lazy Man Blues” works a similar vein, though where the former was highlighted by its fluidity, this song is more punctuated, displaying the kind of melodic shaping typical of a Julian Joseph piece.
Tracks like “O’McHenry” and “Bad Drummer” are celebratory and upbeat. Drummer Karl Jannuska comes with the big beats, a nice match for Savy’s punchy, almost sing-song delivery for these songs.
They slow things down, too. The ballad “Father Bear Comes Home” is old school, but doesn’t get in your face with it. The song smolders until catching fire near its conclusion when bass clarinet ignites for the finale.
“Stories” has a bit of the modern fusion thing going for it, and, at times, echoes the opening track. But it moves stealthily, and it goes through a few changes to where its identity is forged from those changes and not any one particular sound. It also provides everyone the opportunity to flex their muscles a bit with a solo.
The cover of Monk’s “Misterioso” starts a little disjointed, which is nice considering the source material. Sparse, and the bass prominent. Savy’s bass clarinet gets in some shouts, but it’s Kerecki’s bass doing the heavy lifting in terms of melody. After that, the rest of the group joins in. Guitar gets in nice intertwining lines with bass clarinet, and piano wraps them up with small contributions. A real emphasis on the blues for this fun, ramshackle tune that satisfyingly comes together at the end, the group working the melody in unison.
Th album ends with the upbeat “Kind of Potts,” a straight-ahead modern piece. It hops around determinedly, stays cheery throughout, and ends with the same enthusiasm with which the album began.
A very enjoyable recording, and definitely one for the bass clarinet fan.
Your album personnel: Thomas Savy (bass clarinet), Michael Felberbaum (guitar), Pierre de Bethmann (piano, Fender Rhodes), Stéphane Kerecki (contrabass), and Karl Jannuska (drums).
Released by Plus Loin Music.
Jazz from the Paris scene.