Jean-Christophe Chloet piano
Heiri Känzig double bass
Marcel Papaux drums
Elise Caron vocal
Chœur Arsys Bourgogne
Recorded November 9-11, 2009 by Gérard de Haro at Studios La Buissonne
Assistants: Nicolas Baillard and Nicolas Sournac
Mixed February 24-26, 2010 by Gérard de Haro and Jean-Christophe Cholet at Studios La Buissonne
Mastered by Nicolas Baillard and Jean-Christophe Cholet at Studios La Buissonne
Piano prepared and tuned by Alain Massonneau
Release date: April 18, 2011
Hymne à la nuit is the brainchild of composer-pianist Jean-Christophe Cholet, who folds his trio with bassist Heiri Känzig and drummer Marcel Papaux into the creative batter of actress-singer Elise Caron and the Arsys Choir from Burgundy. Setting the poetry of Novalis and Rainer Maria Rilke, these song settings blend classical, folk, and jazz elements to capture (and set free) the nuances of every word.
Cholet and company twist jazzy improvisations around hymnal verses, both spoken and sung. The “Introduction,” at 13 minutes, is the longest and most encompassing of the piece’s nine parts, and sets a mood that changes throughout. This could be either an enhancement or a detriment, depending on your preferences. While normally La Buissonne can be counted on for its aesthetic consistency, in this case the voices are recorded in a way that doesn’t feel quite integrated to me. Caron’s vocals are creatively applied, but the choir (with the exception of “Mondnacht”) is more of an afterthought. As for the music itself, it works best when each stream of consciousness is allowed to travel its own route. The a capella opening of “Ostinato,” for instance, is artfully sung and arranged, but loses integrity once it tries to mesh with the instruments at hand.
The most successful integrations are those between Caron and the trio, as in the first halves of “Visage” and “Bluuz.” The bygone cast of “Groove” achieves fullest traction for the ensemble, but due to the vibrant showings of Cholet, Känzig, and Papaux makes me wish this was purely a trio effort.