Sissoko, Segal, Peirani, Parisien
(Cadogan Hall. 15 November 2023. EFG LJF. Live review by Jon Turney)
It was clear from the opening moments, when Vincent Segal’s cello laid down the groove that underpins Time Bum, that this was going to be a special evening. The quartet’s startlingly good recording Les Egarés, released last spring (link to album review below), whetted the appetite for a live show. And two regular duos who unite here – Segal’s cello and Ballaké Sissoko’s Kora; Vincent Peirani’s accordion and Émile Parisien’s soprano sax – brought the same chemistry to the stage that was so delightful on record.
That delight was palpable among the musicians as well as the full house at Cadogan Hall. They play seated, but the always mobile Parisien is constantly half rising, sometimes to reach a saxophone phrase, sometimes just in sympathy with one of his cohorts’ contributions. Segal looked as intent on the music being made when he laid out as when addressing his cello. All the players projected a sense of huge enjoyment throughout.
As well they might. These four virtuosi have a rich store of achingly beautiful melodies, a shared disregard for genre boundaries, and the improvisational skill to make the new blends they conjure up sound as natural as breathing. The two established duos have an ease of long acquaintance that somehow translates into the four functioning similarly happily as a unit. Some highlights here came from the existing pairings; a feature in the second set for accordion and saxophone turned into a compelling high wire double act: cello and kora together lean more toward the meditative but were no less rewarding. All four together weave a richer tapestry, sometimes lightly woven, sometimes more intricate, the very different timbres of these instruments aiding the players deftness in not creating unhappy tangles.
The quartet’s sound world feels distinctively European, even though it mixes in Parisien’s nods to Bechet and Coltrane and Sissoko’s Malian lilt, not to mention hints of South American strains and folk tunes from territories too diverse to identify. But above all this is expansive, open-hearted playing that deploys remarkable skill to lay down an invitation to lose oneself in the joy of music-making. Who could resist?
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