Vincent Peirani – Thrill Box
(ACT Music 9542- 2. CD review by Sebastian Scotney)
The ear is probably far better off when it doesn’t know what it is about to hear, when it is pemitted to be innocent and unsuspecting rather than laden with pre-conceptions. After about a fortnight of listening to Vincent Peirani‘s CD Thrill Box (ACT Music), I’m still going back – again and and again, and happily – to the opening track, Baïlèro from Joseph Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne, arranged for unaccompanied solo accordion, at the hypnotically slow tempo of crotchet equals forty-two. Those first sounds still bring a magic, an aura, an other-worldliness each time time I hear them.
After the solo spot, bring on the band. The rest of the album – apart from the final track – consistently brings what Ralph Waldo Emerson called “the outstretched hand, the kindly smile, the joy of companionship”. And a kindly, joyful collection of companions they are too.
Pianist Michael Wollny is brilliantly light-touch, evading, complementing. Wollny and Peirani deliver their finest duo moment in Monk’s I Mean You. It’s the nearest thing you’ll ever hear in music to the match sprint in track cycling. The two protagonists feign their intentions for a couple of minutes, give all sorts of misleading signals. Then the signs of what they might at some point do gradually become clearer, till the inevitable moment when it’s heads down, ears pinned back, and a wheel-to-wheel dash for the line.
Michel Benita is one of those civilized continental European bassists, able to float a melody in away that makes musicians happy, and other bassists jealous. He does the simple things, like laying down slow time, unbelievably well.
Soprano saxophonist Emile Parisien works together regularly with Peirani in Daniel Humair’s fabulous quartet, so they know each others’playing backwards, and can become one indivisible instrument when required, particularly remarkably on the fast and hurtlingly furious 9/8 Balkanski Čoček.
The other guest is Michel Portal, who appears in two guises. He’s a solistic, rhetorical, unfettered soaring and swooping free spirit on bass clarinet on B&H. He also crops up on bandoneon (and as dedicatee) on the infectiously cheerful sing-along 3 Temps pour Michel’P
Peirani shows command of an astonishing range of musical styles. Daniel Humair, like the extra band-member who’s there on the album in spirit, has written a touching sleeve-note in which he refers to this as the accordionists univers “multimusique”. In one unexpected excursion, Peirani plays the ‘accordina’, a sort of mouth organ with an accordion button keyboard made by Marcel Dreux, which gives of its Delta bluesy best in Goodnight Irene.
You want a gripe? The only one I can find is that the English sleeve note, rather than translating Daniel Humair’s beautifully thought-through piece, is written like a short CV in perfunctory Bavarian English. Mate, there is no such town in France as ‘Nizza’.
This is an album which delightfully defies all expectations. There isn’t a single weak track on it.