Baptiste Trotignon ‘Song, Song, Song’ (Naïve) 4/5

French pianist is one of the most highly regarded musicians on the French jazz scene and has backed up his potential by winning the Grand Piano de Jazz prize at the prestigious SECAM awards in 2011. He debuted in 200 and has been a regular part of the Moutin Reunion quartet before becoming a leader in his own right. A 2009 album for Naïve, Share’ included top American musicians and featured trumpeter Tom Harrell and saxophonist Mark Turner. More recently, Trotignon performed in Septermber in Paris at the autumn festival Jazz à La Villette and collaborated with Bojan Z. His interested however, are not confined to jazz and the pianist has even written a piano concerto for Nicholas Angelich and the Orchestre National de Bordeaux. With such impressive credentials to hand, it will come as little surprise, then, that this latest recording is wide ranging in influence and revisits some classics of the French chanson repertoire alongside some finely crafted original compositions. Among guest musicians, vocalist Melody Gardot impresses with a French language take on Mon fantôme’ with Hot Club de France style accompaniment which could open up a whole new career for her. Brazilian flavours emerge with the aid of Brazilian vocalist Monica Passos with the wordless vocals of ‘Mr. Gone’ reminding one of the great Flora Purim while samba rhythms predominate on ‘Choro de cigarra’. However, the majority of the album is instrumental and this is truly where Trotignon excels. He dissects a duo of French chanson classics with a masterly medley of ‘Ne me quitte pas/La Javanaise’ that is a beautifully paced interpretation, while Claude Nougaro’s ‘Une petite fille’ is played as a duet between piano and Spanish cajon percussion instrument. Trotignon’s approach is essentially romantic in tradition, but neverly overly sentimental. Another fine original is ‘Palavas-les-Flots’, a seaside resort most famously depicted in a Houellebecq novel, but here featuring male vocalist Christophe Miossec whose tone is reminiscent of left-field French singer Arthur H. Classical elements are incoporated on the plaintive and mournful ‘Awake’ by the use of strings while the album ends with a take on Schubert’s ‘Du bist die Ruh’. If there is one CD of jazz music with a French twist that you should explore this year, then this is surely it. Expect to hear more of this talented pianist in the future. Tim Stenhouse

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