A thoughtful chill runs through the music of Benoît Delbecq, a French pianist of investigative temperament and crystalline technique. There’s a ton of compressed energy in his playing, but he projects an unflappable calm.
These lines from the New York Times in 2010 by jazz critic Nate Chinen offer a pertinent description of Delbecq’s music. Delbecq is a multi-awarded Parisian pianist and composer, a type-setter who persists in developing his ideas among which a very rhythmic approach that brings the soul of jazz to John Cage’s prepared piano. Delbecq may prepare just a few strings with wood sticks then sit at the piano become a percussion-and-piano ensemble. Delbecq is curious with sound, the rhythm of prose, and mutating loops of sound fabrics. His musical thrust continues to weave some outstanding and compelling tapestries for our delight.
This new quartet assembles four musicians from New York and Paris of the highest caliber in today’s contemporary jazz scene. There are winding melodies written for silversmith Mark Turner who kneads them like dough when Delbecq elegantly seems to observe them from a mirror, as well as lines for John Hébert whose rocking bass may decide to shift the whole group’s harmony, the whole cooking magically with Gerald Cleaver’s stellar, soulful and contagious drumming. The quartet plays a nomadic and rhythmic music as if they followed a map with contour lines only, letting musical gems appear and farm them on the moment on such fertile terrain.
Delbecq was born in 1966. Since the early nineties, his works have received acclaims from legendary musicians such as Mal Waldron, Steve Lacy, György Ligeti, Steve Coleman, as well as from many critics and festivals around the world. He studied improvised music in Paris with free music pioneer Alan Silva. When aged 19, he joined Silva’s Celestrial Communication Orchestra, while jazz giant Mal Waldron mentored him to work on his own musical ideas. Delbecq has participated in a couple of jazz workshops at the Banff Centre and studied there with Dave Holland, Steve Coleman, Muhal Richard Abrams, among others greats. He also studied composition and music analysis with Solange Ancona, a former student of Olivier Messiaen. For composing he uses his own graphic notation he came cross with when transcribing the music of the Aka pigmees from the Central African rainforest.
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