Now or Never is a follow-up to B.F.G.’s 2001 album for the fledgling French record company Naïve Jazz, Here & Now. Given that album’s success in Europe where it won much praise and a number of awards, it is surprising that it has taken so long. Better late than the other thing, the band got together in June of 2013 and over two days played live at the Sunset Club in Paris, and the result is Now or Never.
B.F.G. is a trio that takes its name from the initials of the three member musicians. Emmanuel Bex plays the Hammond B3 organ. Glenn Ferris plays trombone, and Simon Goubert plays drums. It is an unusual combination and it produces a sound that is in many respects unique. This is a sound that takes some getting used to. Its disorienting quality is most apparent in the trio’s treatment of the two familiar jazz standards on the album; it is less so in the original material.
They open their set with the Paul Desmond classic “Take Five,” and it is almost as if they have reinvented the tune. This is a “Take Five” that takes the tune in new directions, exploring as it moves. Later, their take on Thelonious Monk’s “Bluehawk” is equally idiosyncratic. Their instrumentation offers a variety of possible soundscapes, and they make the most of them.
When they are dealing with their own compositions, they seem to be more conventional. Bex ballad “Seul Sans Toi” (“Alone Without You,” if my French holds up), focuses more on the emotional content of the music than on any sound adventure. It has its outré moments, but by and large has a sound that seems quite traditional. Ferris’s trombone is rich and melodic, and Bex is understated. It may be my own conventional taste, but for me this is one of the highlights of the album. The others are Goubert’s “Mr Sanders” which closes the set, and demonstrates that this is a trio that can swing when it wants to, and Ferris’ melodic “Light’n Up (If You Can).” The latter gives Goubert some interesting work, as does the opening of Bex’s “Fa Diese.”
B.F.G. would do well not to wait 12 years to follow up Now or Never.
[amazon template=iframe image&chan=default&asin=B00F5F355M]