This joyous session sneaked in so quietly that I neglected to review it: my apologies to the Gentlemen of the Ensemble. Don’t be like me and let these joys pass you by. It’s truly a WOW.
Let me explain. The Musketeers are Félix Hunot, guitar, banjo, vocal; Malo Mazurie, cornet, trumpet; David Lukacs, clarinet, tenor saxophone; Attila Korb, bass saxophone, vocals. Those of you with the barest awareness of the superb international hot jazz scene — or attentive readers of this blog — will recognize those names.
And now, A Metaphor. Those of you who wish to get an iced drink may do so. The great chefs rely on “reduction,” which in my case means cooking a good deal of chicken or vegetables to produce a smaller amount of highly-flavored liquid, a “stock,” that will flavor other dishes. I don’t know how nimble the Musketeers are in the kitchen, but this CD is a wonderful series of such reductions: great jazz repertoire and performances stripped of inessentials to arrive at powerfully savory dishes for the ear and the heart. Imagine, for instance, a rendition of the Goldkette MY PRETTY GIRL reimagined — oh so convincingly — for quartet, and you get the idea. The propulsive joy not only remains but seems even more present.
The compositions on which they work their magic are OSTRICH WALK, MY PRETTY GIRL, LAZY BONES, FROGGIE MOORE, MABEL’S DREAM, MISSISSIPPI MUD, I’M WALKIN’ (yes!), CRYIN’ ALL DAY, JAPANESE SANDMAN, THANKS FOR THE MEMORY, MAMANITA, and TIGER RAG. Felix plays MEMORIES OF YOU as a banjo solo — so very touching — and creates a ballad medley of three strains from Richard Wagner, for guitar, equally moving, and Attila Korb has written ADRIAN’S DREAM for his hero and ours, Adrian Rollini. Delicious repertoire, no?
But you don’t have to imagine. Just listen:
It’s wonderful, and consistently so — a series of happy reverent homages to the Hot Jazz tradition, electrified by the personalities of the four gifted musicians. Welcome, you Jazz Musketeers!
You can find it here, digitally or tangibly.
May your happiness increase!