Album review

Sissoko Segal Parisien Peirani – ‘Les Égarés’

Sissoko Segal Parisien Peirani – Les Égarés

(ACT 9965-2. Album review by Jon Turney)

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The concept here intrigues. Marvellously expressive French soprano sax specialist Émile Parisien and accordion virtuoso Vincent Peirani have recorded and toured extensively together, their highly developed mutual sympathy making for an agile, self-sufficient duo. The same goes for the equally rewarding pairing of Ballaké Sissoko on kora and cellist Vincent Segal. So why not…. bring all four together?

A superb idea, and the resulting quartet – four interlocking instrumental voices who remain sans percussion – revel in exploring the kind of folkish melodies one associates with their duo sets. Peirani is often the most compelling individual instrumental voice, as tends to be the way in any group he is in. But the real magic here is collective. The duos both attain a rare creative intimacy, that feeling of two instruments interweaving as if one musical mind governs both. Both pairings retain that facility here, and at times all four reach that level together.

That comes partly from a shared virtuosity-with-restraint. Each of them has mastered holding back as well as letting the music pour forth. The unusual instrumentation works in their favour, too.

The cello, bowed or plucked, has the freedom of the bass register, Peirani can match the saxophone lines or contribute orchestrally, Sissoko can make the kora, sing, caress a melody, or reinforce a groove, sometimes all at once.

Together they create a bewitching interplay on tunes that lead them in and out of varied territory, from traditional kora melodies to European-flavoured anthems. Opener Ta Nye sets out their stall with a gentle unison on the Malian theme, elaboration from accordion against bowed cello and kora and then the soprano sax taking flight. Like most of the tracks the sounds are bewitching and the melody has a song-like quality that grows more powerful as the playing proceeds. There are pensive moments – La Chanson des Égarés and Nomad’s Sky both allow complementary lines to meander through a seductive dreamscape. Time Bum carries a powerful groove and Esperanza is an Iberian-tinged dance. Orient Express, a Joe Zawinul piece, mixes a subtly-spiced rhythmic recipe in a complex composition that calls for, and gets, a range of orchestral effects.

Les Égarés translates as the strays. If there is straying here it is happening in a musical landscape where every diversion is a delight. All four players have such broad sympathies that the landscape is teasingly tricky to locate precisely. For this English ear the overall effect is of gorgeous folk-infused creations from a place where musical strains from many lands come together – an ideal country, nicer than one’s own, impossible to visit yet somehow captured here in sound.

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

LINKS: LJN coverage of Vincent Peirani

Categories: Album review, Reviews

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