Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Gilles Repond Quartet - 03/02/2007@Jazz Station, Brussels

Gilles Repond - tb (myspace)
Pascal Mohy - p
Sam Gerstmans - b
Max Silvapulle - d

It's strange how there are some musicians, like Sam Gerstmans and Pascal Mohy, who are good players, around my age and play a lot of gigs, but that I never see, perhaps because they run in circles I don't frequent much. I don't think I'd ever heard of Gilles Repond, but I trekked out to the Jazz Station's 6 PM concert anyway, because it's not too often I get to hear trombone up close. I missed most of the first set, maybe my opinion would be different if I hadn't.

Gilles is a quiet and tidy player. Perhaps a little too tidy, as things sometimes took on a bit of a cruise ship feel (not that I've ever actually been on a cruise...). The writing reflected that, too: uncluttered, but lacking a bit of oomph. During the "Lost Suite," one movement got off to an enlivening start, with an urgent, siren-like motif, then dissipated into rubato, in Grachan Moncur style. Multiple possibilities seemed available then, so when Pascal Mohy came in for an untroubled, medium swing solo, it was a very puzzling, energy-deflating decision, one too typical of the set.

After the suite, a couple of standards reinvigorated the music. The arrangement of Billy Strayhorn's "Johnny Came Lately" extrapolated part of the theme's phrasing into a groove for the A section and reverted to swing for the bridge. Mohy and Gerstmans provided, as they regularly did, concise and interesting solos.

"St. James Infirmary" was a great showcase for Repond's growls and slurs, as he revelled in the use of a metallic plunger mute. When he put it down, his power and clarity seemed enhanced, and he dug into the behind-the-beat feel with relish.

On Repond's MySpace page, you can hear excerpts from his debut album, Lost.