Unity in diversity
Between You and Me
Tema de Maela
Beauty Where It Is
Porgy and Bess: Summertime
Dawn and Twilight
Fabrice Alleman (soprano saxophone): Vincent Bruyninckx (piano): Sam
Gerstmans (double bass): "Minimo" Garay (drums):Fred Jacquemin (drums):
Guests Ė Philip Catherine (electric guitar: Whatís Love?): Fred Favarel
(guitars: Tema de Maela, Summertime, Bridges, Dawn and Twilight): Liege
Chamber Orchestra: Ensemble Quartz
Recorded July 2016-Febraury 2017, Dada Studios, Brussels
Since changing direction from his Classical training, the Belgian soprano
saxophonist Fabrice Alleman has enjoyed European success and played with
some top-flight players, such as Terrence Blanchard and Kenny Werner. With
this disc, backed by the Chamber Orchestra of LiŤge and Ensemble Quartz,
the former offering string cushion, the latter wind ballast, he enters what
some might still term Third Stream territory.
Most of the tunes are by Alleman himself or Michel Herr andSummertime is the only standard. Allemanís Unity in Diversity offers one of the repeating components of the
disc, a romantic, rather filmic string wash with the very fluent and
flowing soprano riding over it, and surmounting the wind playing too. This
textured backing would not be out of place in a Hollywood-scored film from
the 40s though the arrangement of Between you and me, another
original from the leader, does allow the trio of pianist Vincent
Bruyninckx, bassist Sam Gerstmans and drummer Fred Jacquemin to emerge
neatly. But there can be something a touch bland about the arrangements and
indeed the whole approach; Lalo Zanelliís Tema de Maela is a case
in point Ė perfectly pleasant, with a pain-free soprano line of elegance
but little passion (no Coltrane death rattle, or even Bechetís soaring
vibrato). Thereís a reflective ballad from Herr called Beauty where it is but the vaguely Latino Summertime,
complete with adept guitar solo, is decidedly jaunty.
Guest star Philip Catherine plays on Allemanís Whatís love? and he
brings some much needed blues feeling to the music-making, broadening the
stylistic remit wider than is to be found anywhere else in the album.
Alleman responds with quiet and lyrical playing. Thereís a slightly
Eastern/Moroccan start to Bridges though the allusions are never
properly developed, seemingly more tangential than anything. The final,
rather confusingly laid out track is J-J, Dawn and Twilight and J-J once again, where thereís a slightly rockier vibe all round,
and a coiling soprano solo adds something a little different to the mix.
If you enjoy filmic Third Stream, this may well have something for you.
Thereís no doubting Alleman is an elegant and eloquent stylist. I just
found too much of his latest disc bloodless.