This is a highly generational album: the members of this quartet are all in their thirties, born within a few months of each other in the 80s.
Generation Mitterand, some might think, but we’re not here to talk politics, or even cultural policy, as these four fellows frolic in an aesthetic far removed from political correctness or submission to official codes.
Baptiste Herbin continues to demonstrate his ability to fit into different stylistic niches, whether as sideman or leader (co-leader in this case).
I discovered Baptiste at Jazz en Tête (@ Clermont-Ferrand) – the fiefdom of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur du GBJES (le Grand Bon Jazz Eternel & Savoureux) Xavier Felgeyrolles – during a jam session that was seriously ballsy.
Baptiste, still unknown at the time, baptized the audience with his alto sprinkler, playing suave and/or tonic solos that elicited “Oh!”, “Ah!” and “Who’s he?” from the audience, while Xavier rubbed his hands together to see his foal crowned by the crowd in a trance, as he deserved.
Since then, our saxophonist has made a name for himself and become one of the pillars of the French jazzosphere, one of our most lively and inspired altos, right up there with his elders Géraldine Laurent or Thomas de Pourquery.
On this CD, he composes quite a few themes and embraces not only his flamboyant alto, but also a magnificently fruity soprano.
It’s first-class Herbin from this eminent blower.
I’m less familiar with Richard Manetti, the other co-leader of this first-rate quartet, but it didn’t take him more than a few chords or one or two single-line choruses to convince me that he’s a serious customer, especially because he takes over most of the compositions and even offers us a short track of serene beauty in absolute solo form! Manetti is a “son of”, but if he devotes himself to the same instrument as his father, guitarist Romane, he is far from confining himself to the Gipsy idiom. Manetti is just as at home in this style as he is in bebop or fusion: a versatility that makes him a rare bird on the instrument, which he plays magnificently, alternating between coruscating, velocity-filled solos and lusciously melodious chords.
Nicolas Charlier is also a “son of” and, like his father André Charlier, he has chosen to express himself on the drums, which he uses with the same versatility as his progenitor, but without sounding like him.
Nicolas Charlier has his own voice and, like Manetti, is equally at home in binary and ternary, displaying in both styles a percussive and melodic playing style of the highest order.
Jérémy Bruyère, for his part, confines himself to the electric bass, on which he is as comfortable and convincing as on the double bass. His delectably round sound and supple, tonic phrasing are major assets to this quartet, of which he is the harmonic and rhythmic pillar.
It should be noted in passing that the bassist and drummer each contribute a composition to this quartet, whose approach is eminently collective.
All in all, we have here a top-notch record, of resplendent beauty and stylistic diversity, where the interplay between the protagonists is an inexhaustible source of delight for the delighted and fulfilled listener, who will only reproach them for the kitschissimo cover of their formidable opus.
Line up :
Richard Manetti : guitar
Baptiste Herbin : alto sax, soprano sax
Jérémy Bruyère : electric bass
Nicolas Charlier : drums
On Air was released by the label Frémeaux & associés in April 2023.
On Air is on air on Couleurs Jazz Radio, of course. It was rewarded as Best of de la Couleurs Jazz Week and got a Hit Couleurs Jazz.
©Photos Jacques Pauper pour Couleurs Jazz lors du concert du 23 juin 2023 à l’Eglise St Pierre de Montmartre.