Yes, a delightful new CD by players many of you might not be terribly familiar with — but JAZZ LIVES hopes to change this. Without another word from me, visit here where you can (on the right-hand side) hear excerpts from three performances.
This CD is the work of three splendid instrumentalists — Jérôme Etcheberry (of the Swingberries and other groups), trumpet; Michel Pastre, tenor saxophone; Louis Mazetier, piano. And there’s no need to ask yourself, “Where’s the rest of the band?” because you won’t miss them, not even for four bars.
It’s clear that this is music with a pulse, a warm swinging heartbeat. I envision the trio as if they were happily walking down Fifty-Second Street. That isn’t to suggest that this is a repertory disc, although most of the repertoire would have been applauded in 1944, but that these three players have a deep commitment to Swing: in their medium tempos, in their infallible rhythms, and their lovely balance between solo and ensemble. All three of them are hot players who find joy in ballads, who love to rock, who create backgrounds and riffs, so that the trio never seems like three voices lonely in the aesthetic wilderness.
They balance ease and intensity in the best ways, so that the session is as if Lips Page, Ben Webster, and Johnny Guarnieri found themselves in a congenial place with a good piano and decided to have some fun. Both Etcheberry and Pastre are old-fashioned players, lyrical and hot at the same time, who aren’t copying but making their own ways through the material: maybe they aren’t Lips and Ben . . . perhaps Shorty or Cootie, Ike Quebec or Chu. You get the idea. Mazetier graciously and unflaggingly is a whole rhythm section in himself, offering orchestral piano in the Waller manner — but we also hear touches of Wilson and Tatum. For me, it’s as if my beloved Keynote / Savoy / Blue Note 78s had come to life in this century — and continued to amaze and please right now without a hint of conscious recreation.
The song list will give you a clear idea of what inspires this trio: the original for which the CD is titled, 7:33 TO BAYONNE, and DON’T BE AFRAID, BABY (by Etcheberry and Pastre respectively), ESQUIRE BOUNCE (associated with Hawkins and the Esquire All-Stars), YOU CAN’T LOSE A BROKEN HEART (echoes of Louis, Billie, and James P.), TIME ON MY HANDS, VICTORY STRIDE (think Ellington, James P., and the Blue Note Jazzmen), FOOLIN’ MYSELF (for Lester and Billie), SQUATTY ROO (for Hodges and Co.), SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY, BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, I’VE GOT THE WORLD ON A STRING, a ballad medley of SEPTEMBER SONG, MY ONE AND ONLY LOVE, and COCKTAILS FOR TWO, a romping IF DREAMS COME TRUE (again, echoes of James P., the Webb band, Buck, Ben, and Teddy), and Mazetier’s LA LIGNE CLAIRE.
Before I remind you where and how you can buy this CD, which I encourage you to do, because it is good for the soul as well as the ears, I will say that musicians wisely don’t ask me how to title the new CD. I say “wisely,” because not only do I have opinions, but I am often eager to share them. But if the trio had asked, I would have said in a flash, “Call this one THREE GROOVY BROTHERS.” “Groovy” makes sense to anyone who’s heard the excerpts. “Brothers” might not: their last names are dissimilar . . . but what I kept hearing all through the disc is a wonderful comradely embrace in swing. No one wants to show off, to play more, to play louder, to do fancy stuff. It’s all a kind collective endeavor, with each player trying gently to make sure the music sounds as fine as it can. Which it does.
You can buy the disc here — and for the monolingual, the form is easy to follow, and the little credit-card rectangles are, for better or worse, a common language.
May your happiness increase!