Cedric Hanriot ‘French Stories’ (Plus Loin/Harmonia Mundi) 3/5

French keyboardist Cedric Hanriot seems to have been heavily influenced by both Herbie Hancock from his Headhunters period and fellow compatriot Michel Petrucciani and this is reflected in the musical balance which includes acoustic trio, fender Rhodes and electric bass formats, and occasional accompaniment from cellos and violins. The repertoire is roughly evenly divided between self-penned compositions and occasional takes on classic French chanson with John Patitucci alternating between acoustic and electric bass and Terri Lynne Carrington propelling the drums. Hancock is most obviously evoked on the staccato rhythm of ‘Louisiana’ with John Patitucci excelling on electric bass and Hanriot doubling up on multiple keyboards. In parts this almost sounds like Medeski, Martin and Wood territory. Hanriot shifts keyboard duties again on the Latin jazz of ‘Mambo’. Of the three acoustic trio outings, ‘Crunkie’ sounds not dissimilar to ‘Think of one’ and is Monk-esque in structure. Among the French songs selected, Claude Nougaro’s ‘Le jazz et la java’ is the pick of the quartet with a nice change in emphasis that recalls Brad Mehldau. The prog rock beats of ‘Marianne était jolie’ sound out-of-place with the rest here. A promising debut, then, and Cedric Hanriot will with future recordings find his own voice.

Tim Stenhouse