Gäel Horellou

Gäel Horellou Versus David Sauzay

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Once more, Spain's Fresh Sounds New Talent comes up with a pair of previously unknown jazzmen to showcase in the personages of Gäel Horellou and David Sauzay, both saxophonists playing in a quintet setting. The title is somewhat misleading, however, as both men play in a quartet from France with pianist Laurent Couthaliac and drummer Phillipe Garcia. The addition of Catalonian bassist David Mengual, who plays on occasion with Brad Meldau, makes this a solid bebop quintet. And it's all there in terms of chops, from the breezy, smooth read of Monk's "Evidence," which opens the album, to the composer's "Ask Me Now." The technique is flawless, the timing and cues and arrangements are all on the money, and the writing and soloing is very precise in the compositions of the principals that fill out the rest of the album. So what's wrong? Nothing and everything. For one, on the Monk tunes they are so smooth they are unrecognizable except for their changes. There is nothing left of the gritty, angular, blues-driven kinkiness in the originals, and Monk's harmonics are cramped and compressed inside an octave range. And the other tunes are played with great speed and dexterity, and come off as crystalline imitations of bebop without being the thing itself. Sorry, this one doesn't get it no matter how well the players move around their instruments, because there is no heart and no instinct to inspire these tunes.

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