François Corneloup

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Pidgin Review

by Alain Drouot

Saxophonist François Corneloup does not like to overextend the lifetime of a band, so each new recording is usually the occasion to discover a new ensemble. Pidgin is no exception, and features a bass-less lineup comprised of guitarist Marc Ducret, trombonist Yves Robert, and drummer Eric Echampard. This quartet proves a total success, achieving a rare unity, largely due to the leader's humility. The music is the result of a real osmosis -- a four-way conversation of sorts -- formed by the band's close-knit structure, which often makes it sound like a larger group. Their versatility allows them to travel in many directions and to explore various moods -- from the title track's rocking introduction to the exquisite introspection of the dreamy "La Maison Dort." As a leader, Corneloup does not overshadow his bandmates. Instead, he sticks to the baritone, often assuming the role of the bass player and leaving most of the solos to Ducret and especially Robert -- this recording could almost pass as one of the trombonist's headlining dates. A better showcase of Corneloup's sharp and robust approach on the baritone can be heard in other recordings. Robert has rarely sounded so inspired and articulated, whether he stretches long notes or resorts to rapid-fire phrases. Echampard can either be a colorist or propel the group with an impressively muscular drive, and Ducret uses whatever effect suits the moment best. Together, they create the most engaging music, and Corneloup confirms that he is a force to reckon with -- and a great hope for the future of jazz.

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