Chris Speed / Chris Cheek / Stephane Furic Leibovici: Jugendstil (2008)
Double-bassist Stephane Furic Leibovici avers that he likes to be gentle with sounds and to listen to the inside of them. He is true to this philosophy on Jugendstil, where he finds solace in the quiet and the meditative; getting inspiration from classical and chamber music and using them to the full in his writing.
One of the traits of the music is the subtle changes woven into the context. The credit for this goes largely to clarinetist Chris Speed and saxophonist Chris Cheek. Together, and individually, they bring in gentle nuances, slight shifts of direction and, when the composition calls for it, a bright and happy pulse. The last, however, is in short supply. Even when a tune starts out frolicking, as it does on "Three Kinds of Folks" and "A Music of Tranquility," the pulse is calmed and tender ministrations take over.
The first notes that gambol in belie the title "A Music of Tranquility." Speed and Cheek play undulating, happy lines and then draw back, their virtuosity marking the development of the composition, juxtaposing scooting lines with the linear as Leibovici keeps open-ended time.
"Three Kinds of Folks" starts off in a lovely melodic meadow. Speed and Cheek are delightful minstrels on the clarinet and soprano, but the joy is short. It's back into that organic growth and it must be given that the two find ways of fertilizing the ground with their shifts of pulse, of emphasis, and for a while into jazz harmony with Leibovici laying down a walking bass line.
A leisurely ambit captures almost all the grooves and one has to be in a particular frame of mind to absorb and enjoy the music. A pipe, a fireplace and hot buttered rum would help.
Track Listing: Carter Variation - I; Carter Variation - II; Carter Variation - III; Carter Variation - IV; Carter Variation - V; Therego; A Music of Tranquility; Daffodils; Three Kinds of Folks; Feuillage des Gestes; Les nuits de la Chapoulie.
Personnel: Chris Speed: clarinet; Chris Cheek: tenor and soprano saxophones; Stephane Furic Leibovici: double-bass.