Feb 24 2015
An intriguing album released at the tail-end of 2014 is Whahay, the self-titled recording from the Whahay trio of bassist Paul Rogers, drummer Fabien Duscombs and multi-reedist Robin Fincker. The trio digs into the songbook of Charles Mingus, using the original compositions as the foundation from which to leap into a series of improvisations.
Much to the album’s benefit, the trio tethers their renditions tightly to Mingus’s original melodies rather than offer up some pro-forma statement as an excuse to just to do whatever the hell they wanted to do in the first place. “Better Git It In Your Soul” works the melody like a charm, both in its pristine form and also with slight variations for extra flavoring. The tempo isn’t the hyperactive burner of the original, possessing, instead, more of a choppy motion. Plenty of free association going on within that framework, but the occasional returns to melody keep the song centered and easily located. This is an approach typical throughout the album.
“Jump Monk” comes right out with the tension, a sense of being one spark away from complete combustion. A huge bass solo… the kind that reminds how powerfully lyrical the instrument can be all by its lonesome. It’s another strong bass solo that opens the rendition of “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” before the trio slowly rolls out the wistful melody.
There’s plenty of intensity throughout the recording; it’s just a question of how much the trio choose to modulate it. Their take on “Pithecantropus Erectus” builds up to a firestorm. On the other hand, “Canon” works it more like a strong undertow. And then there’s the unadulterated power on the thrashing “Bird Call.”
There’s some compelling displays of bass arco. Rogers’ furious extended opening to “Work Song” is just as captivating as the lovely harmonics between his arco and Fincker’s clarinet on “Ecclusiastics.”
A very cool album. The trio brings some serious intelligence to accompany the music’s emotional punch.
Your album personnel: Paul Rogers (7-string double bass), Fabien Duscombs (drums) and Robin Fincker (clarinet, tenor sax).
Released in 2014 on the Mr Morezon label.
Jazz from the Toulouse, France scene.
Listen to more of the album on the artist’s Bandcamp page.