“Le Jazz et la Pavane”: Improvisation through the centuries = Les Sacqueboutiers (The Early Brass Ensemble of Toulouse) & friends – Flora

“Le Jazz et la Pavane”: Improvisation through the centuries = Les Sacqueboutiers (The Early Brass Ensemble of Toulouse) & friends – Flora 2812, 71:26 [3/12/13] [Distr. By Allegro] ***:

Once again, Les Sacqueboutiers prove there is life beyond being just a brilliant, innovative, stimulating, provocative, very authentic early music ensemble. The Toulouse-based group’s new concept CD, Jazz and the Pavane, juxtaposes early instruments (cornet and sackbut) with modern ones (trumpet and trombone) to make a surreal, time-transcending kind of magic.

Led by cornett virtuoso Jean-Pierre Canihac, the tracks each use a piano and drum kit amongst the sackbuts to trigger a succession of colorful improvised excursions based not on Léogé’s stylings but specific compositional landmarks; towards the end the pianist generally negotiates a bridge that invites the musicians in to finish of the track in a sort of transmogrification including even occasional references to iconic classical music themes.

The disc’s tour de force must be Michelangelo Rossi’s “Toccata Settima” for piano and harpsichord in which Léogé and Yasuko Bouvard inhabit a series of spaces in which each exploration by one instrument triggers one deeper by the other.

Since this is a Sacqueboutiers disc, there must be at least one completely enchanting piece for the horns and here it is a timeless “Passacaille” by Andrea Falconiero adapted as a ravishing sackbut and trombone dialogue.

After the slow-emerging “Bombarde,” based on a credo theme from a 14th century mass, the magic becomes apparent first in four takes on four of Diego Ortiz’ most delightful pieces.  A charming, fey adaptation of Tarquinio Merula’s “Su la cetra amorosa” seems to be accompanying a day’s stroll through the composer’s 17th century Spanish landscape. A naughty take on Schuetz and a courtly finale à la Mateo Flecha, complete with a mesmerizing double-bass riff, finish up matters.

If you need to look up times and dates, who these wonderful composers were and who these wonderful performers are, it’s all in an elegant essay by Canihac laid out in a beautifully-designed typographical and design format that should win a prize. Aline Blondiau’s totally natural sound, recorded in the auditorium at the Piano Museum in Limoux, enhances the musical experience.

—Laurence Vittes

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