Philippe Petrucciani ‘Este Mundo’ (Jazz Village) 3/5

Sometimes wrongly overlooked as the lesser known of the Petrucciani brothers, guitarist Philippe has carved out a career in France and returns with a well balanced album that invokes Pat Metheny and a contemporary updated take on the Hot Club de France in equal measure. He is ably abetted by singer and co-writer Nathalie Blanc who might best be described as a French equivalent of Stacey Kent, bassist Dominique de Piazza and drummer Manhu Roche. Eight of the originals were co-penned by Blanc and Petrucciani and of these the Brazilian-flavoured ‘Bahia’ impresses as a shuffling mid-tempo breezer complete with French language vocals that evokes the north-eastern Brazilian state. There are some inventive re-interpretations of French classics such as a reggaefied accompaniment to a song immortalised by Yves Montand, ‘Sous le ciel de Paris’, a francophone version of ‘Round midnight’ re-titled ‘Autour de minuit’ as written by the great chanteur Claude Nougaro which is a duet between Blanc and Petrucciani, and a funkified bass take on Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’. Pan-Mediterranean grooves return on the light Latin-tinged opener ‘Este mundo’. Philippe Petrucciani veers between guitar and synth guitar on various pieces and yet succeeds in freeing himself from the shackles of the Metheny shadow, providing an imprint that could only be French.

Tim Stenhouse