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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove



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FRANCK TORTILLER

L'Orchestre Sentimental 3/4

CamJazz CAMJ 7818-2

 

 

  1. Valse 4
  2. Rue aux Fromages
  3. Valse 5, Domino
  4. Valse 2
  5. Valse 1
  6. Valse 4 (reprise) Solo
  7. Valse 6
  8. Valse 3
  9. Douce Joie
  10. Impasse des Vertus

Franck Tortiller - Vibes
Patrice Héral - Drums, percussion, vocals, electronic
Vincent Limouzin - Vibes, marimba, electronic
Yves Torchinsky - Bass
Jean Gobinet, Herbert Joos - Trumpets, flugelhorns
Eric Séva - Soprano sax, tenor sax, baritone sax
Bruno Wilhem - Alto sax, tenor sax
Jean Louis Pommier - Trombone
Michel Marre - Tuba, flugelhorn
Eric Bijon - Accordion

A whole album of waltzes sounds as if it might be boring but French vibist Franck Tortiller is anything but boring. After all, there are various kinds of waltzes: slow waltzes, Viennese waltzes, jazz waltzes, etc. Tortiller coaxes a wide range of styles and sounds out of his eleven-piece band.

In fact the music is strongly influenced by the French bal musette tradition, with its jaunty dances (the waltz being prominent) and its connections with the manouche traditions of gypsy jazz represented by such musicians as Django Reinhardt. The musette influence is accentuated by the presence of accordionist Eric Bijon, who underlines that characteristic French sound, which is also present in the 1950 song Domino (inserted into track 3).

But there is also plenty of jazz influence - as in Valse 2, which starts by hinting at a 3/4 rhythm before shifting into a swinging 6/8. Jean Louis Pommier's unbridled trombone here is strongly reminiscent of Gary Valente's anarchic trombone-playing with Carla Bley's orchestra. You might call Franck Tortiller a French Carla Bley, as his arrangements evince a similar mix of ingredients.

The band is described simply as "L'orchestre" and it is not clear if this is the French National Jazz Orchestra which Franck led for three years - or a spin-off from it. Clarity is not assisted by the English translation of the French sleeve-notes, which refers to such extraordinary people as "Georges Shearing" and "Art Van Dame".

One of the most energizing tracks is Valse 1, which includes saxist Bruno Wilhem blowing fit to bust, and Eric Bijon proving that he can challenge Richard Galliano as a jazzy accordionist. At 13 minutes, this is the longest track on the CD, and it passes through multiple phases which are not all in waltz time.

Franck Tortiller allows all his musicians opportunities for solos but features his own vibes on only two tracks: Valse 2 and a short, entirely solo version of Valse 4. However, the vibraphone adds to the distinctive sound of every track. Another distinctive sound is provided by Michel Marre, whose tuba and flugelhorn have some of the Valente-like impertinence hinted at earlier.

This is an unusual album which displays enviable musical prowess without taking itself too seriously. If you have adventurous tastes, give it a try.


Tony Augarde



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