Benjamin Faugloire Project ‘Birth’ (Jazz Family) 5/5

benjamin-faugloire“Birth” is the third album from this Marseille based French trio, following up on their 2008 debut “Premiere Nouvelle” and the 2012 release “The Diving”. Pianist Benjamin Faugloire is joined by double bassist Denis Frangulian and drummer Jerome Moriez, and together this exciting trio weave a tapestry of characterful, emotionally driven textures and colours, reminiscent perhaps of EST in their earlier years.
The trio have spent the last few years developing their own feel and sound, and this comes over in the recording. There’s a togetherness to their playing that suggests they’ve reached that place as musicians where they don’t need to think too much about what each other is doing, the delight and surprise is a natural cause and effect. The superb musical interplay and understanding can be heard throughout the session, with a brightness and freedom to it that is, at times spellbinding.
“Birth” is one of those albums that evokes thought and imagery through its music; at times contemplative, at other times wild and exciting, but always through a richly melodic, lyrical and spirited musicality. The opening track “Foundations” acts as a stunning introduction, bold and confident in its intensity. There’s a power to this music that might have been inspired by bands such as Radiohead or Portishead, enjoying a similar emotional pull yet in a jazz way. It’s as if the trio are putting themselves on the line here, bearing any scars they may have for all to hear. It works brilliantly, pulling the listener in to witness a hidden world they want us to see. “Beautiful Day For A Birth” is a journey that seems to evoke long-lost memories. A key feature to all of the trio’s music is how it can go from light to dark and back again in the blink of an eye. Melodically exciting passages of sound are interspersed with thoughtful, touching and sensitive moments, like the rise and fall of a heartbeat, the listener’s pulse either racing with passion, or calm in its meditative repose. The gentle touch at the beginning of “Heavy Idea” soon develops into some excellent interplay from the threesome, as the music drives foreword, twisting and turning as it goes, taking everything in its stride. Clocking in at a mere 1 minute 40 seconds, “In A Loop” is basically that; a simple piano riff looped or repeated, one that gradually builds and comes to life as the bass and drums grow in strength. It is a stunning piece of music. A brooding melancholy fills the air on “Breathe”, one which evokes a deep, almost desperate feeling from within; intense and powerful. “Euphoria” brings out the classical elements of Faugloire’s playing. The melody hangs in the air, as if waiting, eyeing up its surroundings, knowing something special is about to happen. And when it does, it’s fearless and all-encompassing. “Depression’s Promises” has a tenderness to it that highlights just how well this trio are able to communicate musically, even on such a sensitive level. There’s a deep yearning to this piece of music, yet it holds a warmth within it that suggests an eternal hope. As the mood of the tune gradually lightens, so does the trio’s playing, becoming looser and freer. “Reaction” burns brightly, with the light and dark, the loud and the quiet, like a rainbow exploding its colours across the evening sky. “Think Larger” highlights the virtuosic skills of the pianist in a fantastic way. This could be a classical master at the piano, playing out his life in musical form, baring his soul with abandon. It is beautiful. This listener felt an emotional energy coursing through his body as he connected with the music he was hearing. This leads into the final track “Alive”. The drums and bass are lively and effervescent, before holding back once again as the trio’s energy is channelled into a though-provoking, reflective communication as the album draws to a close.

“Birth” is a stunning album, one which will hopefully launch Benjamin Faugloire Project into the limelight. It takes some of the best influences from pop/rock and classical music, yet is ultimately a wonderful jazz trio recording, the likes of which I have rarely heard since the discovery of acts such as EST, The Bad Plus, or even someone like Marcin Wasilewski Trio. The writing and the performances are right up there. One to savour and enjoy.

Mike Gates