Friday, December 22, 2006

Piotr Paluch Quartet - 20/12/2006@Jazz Station, Brussels

Piotr Paluch - kb, p
Alexandre Cavalière - vln
Ben Ramos - b
Jonathan Callens - d

I last saw Piotr perform nearly three years ago. Since then, he's been finding some success with the funk-jazz of The KMGs (MySpace | website | jazzques concert review). This quartet is also 70s-slanted, but towards Fusion - in which the amplified violin sound is its own sub-genre. Alexandre Cavalière started out as a child prodigy Gypsy jazz violinist. He's been branching out for the last few years, but hasn't disavowed his roots: he wore a "Gypsy Jazz Festival 2004" t-shirt. Throughout the first set, Cavalière grinned goofily at his bandmates, at the audience and, it seemed, at the world in general. He also let out his inner rhythm guitarist during others' solos and leapt from his chair during his own.

Of course, there's Fusion and Fusion. I love Mwandishi and 70s Miles and Nils Petter Molvaer's Solid Ether and Chris Speed's Yeah/No and Ellery Eskelin's trio-turned-quartet (maybe I'm casting too wide a net, here), but have more trouble with the more funky-melodic style this group played, which I see as stemming from Return To Forever, some aspects of Mahavishnu, 60s/70s prog-rock and the repurposing of bebop harmony and melody to new rhythms.

Jonathan Callens was pretty good at holding down the fast samba-fusion beats, but it's only on Chuck Loeb's set-ending "Kali-Au" (which was apparently part of Stan Getz's repertoire at one point) that I got somewhat into it, as the drummer prodded Piotr into a mightily rhythmic, funky-bluesy Fender Rhodes workout. Prior to that, an interesting arrangement of an Arthur Honegger string quartet had yielded a particularly inspired ECM ballad-ish piano-bass interlude, which led back to a stormy full band section.

The three originals that opened the set, though, were pretty unengaging, occasionally veering towards the cheesy or superficial. I think I preferred the Loeb tune because it was vintage, whereas the originals felt retro. I left after the first set, something I rarely do, to go see Bota Fogo...