<%-- Page Title--%> Music <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 138 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

January 16, 2004

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Jean Pierre Como Jazz Trio
Neo G. Mendes

Jazz music aficionados and otherwise were given a rare treat of French jazz recently at the grand finale of French Forum '03 courtesy Alliance Francaise and France Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This was a performance of the Jean Pierre Como Jazz Trio on 13th December 2003 at the Sheraton Winter Garden, Dhaka.

The evening began with a spicy Latinesque piece with interesting polyrhythmic patterns cleverly getting the audience attracted to the music. Following the first movements, one could identify the distinct Chick Corea style in Jean Pierre Como keyboardist par excellence and composer with his mastery of open and free moving improvisational notes of multiple colours, speed, emotions and blends. And like his jazz peers, that Jean Pierre was deeply immersed in his music and performance. The rich chords and harmonics interwoven between keyboard and the double bassist young Stephane Kerecki continued throughout the performance attesting to the maturity, training and talent of the trio.

The second piece, a rather pensive composition, with Como in the lead, was arranged in complex timing beginning as a 4/4 but moving on to varying ¾, 7/8 and other timings in the 3-4 segments, making the music sound fresh and interesting. The composition was based on strong tonic notes--a signature of Como's composition style hinting his Italian background.

This piece was composed allowing the drummer's virtuosity to shine which was showcased not only in this piece, but throughout the evening. Of all the concerts that this reviewer has been to in Dhaka, this drummer Stephane Huchard is in a class of his own a drummer's drummer. His exceptional mastery of technique certainly makes Huchard one of the great drummers of his generation.

In the next piece, in the introduction notes, the trio in unison makes a forceful entry, causing a powerful and stunning musical effect quickly moving on to the drummer embarking on a 4/4 timed solo and showing off his skills to his full advantage and to our great pleasure. During the short solo, the drummer shifts to several timing changes evolving onto a languid flow, and then when the keyboardist re-enters, the scene juxtaposes into forms of music dominated by energetic African influences from the keyboards and drums. Huchard's effortless and easy drum style displays a rich mastery of accomplishments and his many timing changes enhances the colour blends with the tonic keyboard and rich bass notes. Kerecki belying his apparent youth plays with great maturity both in the higher and lower registers and that too with two of France's jazz leaders . Kerecki has some serious accolades under his belt, that of being awarded the First Prize of the Conservatorie National Superieur de Musique de Paris in 2001and the second soloist prize at the International Jazz Competition of La Defense, France. The speed and flow off his perfectly pitched rich musical bass notes rounds of the band's exceptional quality. The brief 4/4 drum solo in an interesting African rhythm and timing brings the piece to a happy conclusion.

My table companions, who lived in Algeria for some years, confirm to me that this composition in certainly nostalgic to them as it evokes memories of Algeria. The piece is flavoured throughout in Arabic/African musical notes and timing. The drums open the piece on a simple nursery rhyme type structure and although this is essentially a drumís piece, the musicality is never dry because of the clever keyboard/bass composition in which African form flares up from the normally quiet background rendering the piece rich and pleasurable.

The following piece is reminiscent of Dizzy Gillespie's "Nights in Tunisia" laid on similarly complex rhythmic patterns followed by several timing changes and a hearty dose of funk from the keyboards. The bassist reverbs with very sweet and happy high and deeply resonant low notes and fun middle register with the shifts and changes. The tender piano notes and the finesse and perfectly timed anticipation by the drummer and bassist attests to their maturity and wealth of talent.

Kerecki presently performs with the Orchestra de Jazz Europe-Afrique (OJEA) and several others including leading big jazz bands and smaller trios and quartets. The following piece opens with a bass solo by Kerecki which gives him the widest opportunity till now to display his individual skill and explains somewhat why he is in such great demand. Kerecki's bass solo, is a composition in which the keyboard and drums complements while allowing him to be the lead piece -- a musical challenge -- especially with a trio combined such. Huchard's accentuation technique on the snare drum combined with his cymbal mastery is in itself an accomplishment and a joy to listen, Como's keyboard is blue/dark intense in the higher notes with a sometimes rock/funk colouration in the middle and lows, creating an entire musical universe -- now tense and then tender and sensitive -- concluding with a bass solo in his favourite high registers and a crescendo of drums.

The next piece "Volare" is an old Italian standard made popular by Dean Martin among others in the 50's & 60's and now regaining popularity. Como -- who spent his childhood in Italy -- plays this piece stylishly, with great warmth and much love and straight from the heart. The piece is made even more romantic with the lovely bass notes of Kerecki, simulating the lead while the keyboards in organ mode, luxuriously glides through concluding in a sweet melodic ending.

The following piece opened on a "rondo" musical formation with a festive circus style grinding organ and bass creating an atmosphere for Huchard to provide his most elaborate drum solo full of snare bullets and ruck work. Huchard's easy use of rock/funk/African/ oriental styles and idioms makes this jazz more interesting and listenable to our ears as compared to pure western jazz because we could recognise the note patterns from our own music. For this and more Huchard has been awarded a "Django d"Or" for his album "Tribal Traquenard" (Blue Note 1999). The fast flowing organ notes complements the swing and bullets of the drums and the quick finger work of the bassist both of whom display outstanding mastery on this tune transporting the listener to the Italian shores of the Mediterranean.

The evening rounded off with an impromptu set by the trio for those who cared to stay after a lovely French dinner.




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