Live review

Moutin Factory Quintet at Pizza Express Jazz Club (2019 EFG LJF)

Moutin Factory Quintet
(Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean Street, EFG London Jazz Festival, Saturday 23 November. Review by Peter Slavid)

François and Louis Moutin are twins who individually have had a strong reputation in France since their days with Martial Solal. They have toured frequently in the USA, but are little known over here. In fact it looks as if it’s over 10 years since they did a tour of the UK. Louis has played with the cream of French jazz over the last 30 years, and Francois spent many years living in New York working with a lot of great American jazz musicians including Rudresh Mahantappa and Lew Soloff.

For their own band, together as a rhythm section, they have been able to attract an outstanding front line to this version of the Moutin Factory band.

Moutin Factory Quintet. Publicity photo.

Christophe Monniot is an in demand sax player and is particularly impressive on the sopranino sax. Paul Lay is a new name to me, but he’s a prizewinning pianist with a big reputation, and a melodic approach. Manu Codjia is an outstanding and original guitarist best known for his work with the great Henri Texier.

Structurally the music is relatively conventional, with a theme and improvisations, but the melodies, mostly composed by François, are really interesting. Many are quite dark and brooding, others have a vague middle-eastern feel to them. The soloing is outstanding throughout with a strong post-bop influence from John Coltrane/Wayne Shorter in particular. Codjia adds a slightly sharper rock-influenced sound to that mix

Much of the music came from their fine recent album Mythical River where even the cover is a dark brooding picture of the twins that sets the scene for the music. Which is not to say that the music is depressing. Broken rhythms, strong grooves and sharp solos pierce the brooding melodies and make an absorbing mixture.

As twins you wouldn’t expect them to resist the temptation of performing as a drum and bass duo, which I gather they do on every album and live performance. It certainly gets one of the loudest cheers of the night. Beyond that the drum and bass solos are used fairly sparingly.

This is a great live band who entertain and seem to enjoy their music enormously, as did the packed audience.

Peter Slavid broadcasts a programme of European Jazz on several internet stations including mixcloud.com/ukjazz

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