Album review

Emile Parisien – ‘Louise’

Emile Parisien – Louise
(ACT 9943-2. Album review by Jon Turney)

The impish French Soprano sax specialist Emile Parisien is a Euro-jazz star but here brings three US players into his band to get closer, he tells us, to his main sources of inspiration. This sparkling sextet thus includes Theo Croker’s trumpet and the rhythm duo of Joe Martin on bass, Nasheet Waits on drums. Roberto Negro’s piano and Manu Codjia on guitar round things out, giving Parisien plenty to work with, and also contribute a composition each.

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The results are very engaging, from the opener, named for sculptor Louise Bourgeois, onward. Louise opens with a slow soprano line underpinned by lowering piano impressionism, before the ensemble unites in a gentle lope to cue a typically thoughtfully articulated solo from Croker.

Parisien’s solo work on Joe Zawinul’s Madagascar ably evokes Weather Report-era Wayne Shorter, the Frenchman producing a slightly dryer timbre and bending fewer soprano notes than usual. Memento, the album’s centrepiece, is a complex three-part work dedicated to the leader’s mother. The sections run together, spanning a range of moods from the elegiac opening to a lightly humorous off-kilter mid-section and the exultant, rhythmically insistent finale.

Negro’s guitar-led Il Giorno Della Civetta, after an Italian crime movie, could be a theme from a spaghetti Western. Jojo, Parisien’s tribute to the pianist Joachim Kuhn, pastiches Ornette Coleman pleasingly in the theme but reverts to regular style thereafter, which feels a little odd but is still fun. Croker’s closer, Prayer 4 Piece, is suitably solemn.

It’s a varied and enlivening set, making good use of the band’s formidable resources. None more formidable than Waits, who is simply outstanding. The drummer is essential to every track here and, but for his concern to serve the group, would be the star of the show throughout. As it is, he raises the energy level of even these impressively creative players, to memorable effect.

Jon Turney writes about jazz, and other things, from Bristol.  Twitter:

LINK: Louise at ACT Music. Release date is 28 January 2022

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