Monday, November 05, 2012

Alex Terrier NY Quartet Takes Us On A Roundtrip

Roundtrip (Barking Cat) by the Alex Terrier NY Quartet, is the second CD by the Parisian-born and Brooklyn based saxophonist. Originally classically trained as a pianist, he turned to jazz when first exposed to it, with Parker, Miles, and Coltrane being initial inspirations, and later he crossed the Atlantic to study at Berklee. He has established a reputation as a saxophonist, composer and band leader on both sides of the ocean.The NY Quartet is comprised of Roy Assaf on piano, François Moutin on bass, and Steve Davis on drums with guitarists Akira Ishiguro and Edouard Brenneisen each appearing on two of the 11 tracks.

The publicity for the disc suggest that the music here has the energy of the New York scene meeting the melodic poetry of European jazz. The diverse The opening Roundtrip is a burner, inspired by a Wayne Shorter piece, features his alto but gives space to all of the quartet to display their talents. The Spirit Will Not Descend Without a Song, has him on soprano and is an original inspired by reading Leroy Jones’ Blues People, and has some dreamy sections with Ishiguro adding some color with his single note runs often against Assaf’s melodic lines. E.S.B. and Ecstasy, is a multi-sectional composition in the mode of some of the Dave Holland Quintet with Terrier’s soprano (sounds occasionally overdubbed as two sopranos) snaking around Moutin’s bass line. 

The ballad Song for Keli, shows how effective Terrier and his group is in this vein, while Le Miroir Des Anges Deguises (The Mirror of The Disguised Angels), is a poetical evocation of a famous Paris bookstore and its mirror where people leave messages for others to read as the band with shifting moods and some really intense alto and some impressionistic piano on a performance that fans of the Blue Note Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter should appreciate. Ton Coeur De Petite Fille Est Mort, is a reflective performance featuring his soprano that captures the sentiment of the title, which roughly translated is“Your Little Girl’s Heart Has Died.” A walk around the Village, with an artist friend, inspired the joyfully playful Tompkins Square with Terrier’s playing shifting from a serene melodicism to an energized ecstasy, animated in part by Brenneisen’s guitar. 

The closing The Dark Side of Democracy is an Ornette Coleman inspired number with Terrier on tenor, going from a whisper to an ecstatic shout, as the band display the same interplay between each other that is one of the hallmarks of this impressive contemporary jazz recording. Terrier is as impressive here as his reputation would suggest. His music is muscular and cerebral at the same time and his NY Quartet provides the foundation for some remarkable performances.

This review originally appeared in the January 15-March 1, 2010 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 323). I received a review copy from a publicist. Here is Alex Terrier performing Roundtrip at Smalls in new York City.

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