Matthieu Bordenave/Patrice Moret/Florian Weber – La Traversée
(ECM 088 2928. CD review by Peter Bacon)
I have a hunch – completely unsubstantiated – that there are more albums by clarinettist/saxophonist Jimmy Giuffre to be found in the collections of modern jazz musicians than there are on the shelves of modern jazz fans. I recall a delightful afternoon performance at a festival in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter some years back when the Western Suite material of Giuffre’s 1957 trio with Bob Brookmeyer and Jim Hall was reworked by trombonist Jeremy Price with Andy Panayi on reeds and Jez Franks on guitar.
But it’s a different Giuffre trio that has inspired French tenor saxophonist Matthieu Bordenave: the one the Texan of Italian heritage formed in 1961 with pianist Paul Bley and bassist Steve Swallow. He writes in the CD booklet: “With their ideas expressed 60 years ago, they opened new territory that remains relevant for improvisers today”.
On bass he has Patrice Moret and on piano Florian Weber, and together they express that Giuffre trio approach with particular attention to interweaving, intuition-led melodic lines and nuances of tone.
It works very well. These three musicians play to their similarities and avoid, if indeed they have any, their differences. The result is a harmonious set of nine pieces – well, eight and a half, given that the opener and closer are duet and trio presentations respectively of a Bordenave composition called River. All the writing is by the leader, though it feels like it might be quite sketchy and open; a relatively free improvisational feel holds true throughout.
The sequencing of the tracks feeds, again, upon that Giuffre insipiration, and a suite-like set is the result.
This album was recorded last autumn and provides a suitably burnished, reflective and ever-so-slightly melancholy soundtrack for this particular crossing into the mellow, misty, gently maturing days.