Claude Tchamitchian

Bassma Suite

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Bassma Suite is credited to the Grand Lousadzak, while Lousadzak was the title of Claude Tchamitchian's CD with his septet (the first release on his label Émouvance). A few years later the septet has been expanded to 13 musicians, hence the Grand Lousadzak. This recording of bassist Tchamitchian's suite packs a lot of punch. The instrumentation features two trumpets, trombone, three saxophones, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, electric guitar, double bass, and drums. The lineup of musicians includes big names of the French avant-garde scene: Daunik Lazro, Xavier Charles, and Philippe Deschepper. Raymond Boni guests on acoustic guitar for the complementary piece dedicated to him ("Pour Boni"). Bassma Suite is a hour-long roller coaster. The music makes use of about every possible aspects of such a large-scale ensemble: crossing contrapuntal lines, free form orchestral buildups from which emerges a theme (and the reverse process), and plays on contrasting textures and timbres (like putting a tonal, melodic piano line against a monstrous free brass section that sounds like it's devouring it alive). The whole thing has the exuberance of Jean Derome's large ensemble pieces ("Je Me Souviens," "Canot-Camping") or even the Italian Instabile Orchestra (although with a less obvious jazz background). Tchamitchian has a knack for planting a riff that will develop while the listener will remain unaware of it until it literally blows in his face. Only repeated listens reveal when it had begun and for how long it had been running. The Grand Lousadzak is one mean, rocking, powerful creative orchestra. That and the bassist's strong writing skills make Bassma Suite a must-have.

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