Paris has long been a mecca for jazz and the jazz artist. And French guitarist-composer Jean-Philippe Grégoire’s debut album for Big Round Records, Sounds From the Delta, is testimony to the continuing dynamism of the Parisian jazz scene. It is an album with a distinctive sound, drawing inspiration from genres as diverse as blues and classical.
Working with a quartet featuring saxophonist Baptiste Herbin, bassist Martin Guimbellot, and drummer Nicolas Charlier, Grégoire has put together a 10-track program focusing, with two interesting exceptions, on his own original compositions. It was recorded at Studio Les Egreffins in Videlles, France on May 21, 2012, a good year for the composer, since it was also in 2012 that he was awarded a scholarship to Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music. Listening to this music from that period, it was a scholarship clearly well deserved.
The foursome opens with a hard driving tune called “No Te Preocupes,” before moving into the album’s title song, a piece that is almost a melodic variation on the iconic “Goodnight Ladies.” “Histology” is a short bop piece with Herbin showing his mettle. They slow down for a noir sounding “Azer-Tyu-lop.” I must say, I would add by way of showing my ignorance, some translation or explanation for some of these titles would be welcome.
“One for Mr. K” has Laurent Fikelson guesting on piano, and a lot of fine solo work from the front line. Jean-Charles Richard joins them on the soprano sax for a kind of spacey “Time Crunch.” “Unresolved” follows with an even more other worldly sound. It seems to show a whole other side to the composer. “Vittorio (R. I. P.),” as the title suggests, is a dirge-like lament.
The set concludes with Grégoire’s arrangements of Debussy’s “Claire de Lune,” a compelling piece of work, and “Just Friends,” the Klenner and Lewis standard.
Dividing his time now between Boston, New York, and France, Jean-Philippe Grégoire is a name you’ll want to remember.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00K4DHPA6,B00K4DHOB6]