Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sébastien Texier & Michel Debrulle - 15/11/2005, Brussels

Up on the fifth floor of the Musée des Instruments de Musique, like when I saw Listen Trio. It's a great room, comfortable movie-theater-like folding chairs, a dozen rows of terraced seating and no amplification necessary. If only more people would come to these midday concerts (we were twenty, maybe slightly more, in a room that could easily hold over one hundred), it would be the most intimate venue in Brussels. Still, down in the first row it isn't too bad.

Sébastien (son of Henri) Texier started out on alto saxophone playing warm, long-note melodies. Throughout the 50 minute-long concert, he would alternate between this and more violently passionate modes that brushed with free jazz and Gypsy and Arabic musics. Along with his alto, he brought a regular clarinet and an alto clarinet, which went sadly unplayed. On the concert-ending "Trois dans quatre" he blew a rambuctious storm that evoked a particularly lively Storyville-era dive in a totally unnostalgic way. Like there was some New Orleans buried deep in the music's DNA.

Michel Debrulle got lots of chances to play the totally unacademic funk he's showcased so on brilliant albums by Trio Grande and Rêve d'Eléphant Orchestra (on De Werf). It's a messy collection of grooves halfway between the carnaval parade and the junkyard. In his many solo spots, he'd build up tottering yet infectious patterns, while when accompanying Texier, he'd orchestrate transitions between composition and improvisation, or between songs, as when he rubbed a woodblock across a drumhead long enough for the reedman to pick up the horn he needed.

There were deliciously delicate moments too, as when they played a stripped-down version of what I think was "Un chat sur le toit:" Texier sounded out the sad and beautiful melody without needing to decorate it further, Debrulle played the a skeletal 7/8 beat on brushes and hummed the melody at the same time. Thus reduced to its simplest expression, the song could open up to sparse, piercing alto cries.