Andy Emler MegaOctet: Obsession 3 (RJAL 397024)

Cover

Andy Emler MegaOctet
Obsession 3

Andy Emler piano
Claude Tchamitchian double bass
Eric Echampard drums
Laurent Blondiau trumpet
Guillaume Orti alto saxophone
Philippe Sellam alto saxophone
Laurent Dehors tenor saxophone
François Thuillier tuba
François Verly percussion
Recorded live at Studios La Buissonne on December 16/17, 2014 by Gérard de Haro and Nicolas Baillard
Mixing by Gérard de Haro and Andy Emler at Studios La Buissonne, Pernes-les-Fontaines
Mastered by Nicolas Baillard
Release date: October 16, 2015

Andy Emler and his MegaOctet return to La Buissonne for Round 2. Despite being the ensemble’s seventh album overall, it feels as fresh as a debut. After the wonders of E total, one can both rightly expect and be surprised by what takes place here. That same feeling of world building is present, but with an even stronger fortification of purpose, of which the tone is dutifully set in “Tribalurban 1.” Emler’s ability to mesh stark dynamic contrasts—from whispers to shouts—has never sounded so organic, and elicits an interlocking of horns and piano that ends with laughter from the band: a brief insight into an underlying camaraderie.

Though recorded in-studio, the album comes across as a live gig—an impression fully implied by announcement of the musicians one by one in the concluding “Die coda.” Before arriving at that whimsical conclusion, we’re introduced to an anatomy of melodically well-toned muscles. The campiness of “Doctor solo” (grounded in the playfulness of my favorite musician in the bunch, tuba master François Thuillier) is echoed in such exciting highlights as “Balallade 2,” in which trumpeter Laurent Blondiau soars high above a vast continent of ideas. Blondiau further delights in “Trois total,” the big band-leaning sound of which gives the listener a bear hug.

The opening splash of “La Megaruse” sets up a fleet-footed run across water by François Verly on marimba. Drummer Eric Echampard and bassist Claude Tchamitchian keep step along the shore, sustaining the same level of uplift from dawn to dusk. This and the 16.5-minute “Tribalurban 2” are phenomenal showcases for the reedmen as well, each lighting a match in that warm kindling only the 70s could have inspired.

If Obsession 3 were a dealer’s table, then I guarantee you wouldn’t find a single poker face among Emler and his committed associates. Instead, they show their smiles and willingly forfeit their advantage, laying down their hands with glee, happier to have played together than won.

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