French saxophonist Émile Parisien, instigator of some of the most musical, formidably skilful yet wackily diverting adventures in recent European jazz, makes a rare UK visit in a duo at November’s London jazz festival, but this exuberant album rams home the full Parisien experience, with a new quintet, regular accordion partner Vincent Peirani, and two revered European elder statesmen in German pianist Joachim Kühn and French bass clarinet original Michel Portal. From the opening vibrato-trembling soprano sax Préambule (Parisien can be a spiky avantist, but he’s a devoted Sidney Bechet admirer, too), through the hard-swinging Poulp – which sounds like the work of a 21st-century Hot Club band with Ornette Coleman leanings – through the contemporary-noir doom-walk of Brainmachine or the accordion-throbbing Umckaloabo, Parisien leads an exhilarating genre-hop bubbling with captivating remakes of US and European jazz traditions. And Kühn, a majestic soloist inside or outside conventional harmony, sounds as if he’s been an instantly responsive communicator with this lineup – and particularly the leader – for years.
French soprano saxophonist Emile Parisien is one of the most highly regarded European jazz musicians of our time. The three albums he made in just three years – “Belle Epoque” in 2014, “Spezial Snack” in 2015 and “Sfumato” in 2016 – have propelled him, at the age of just 35, to the top of the worldwide rankings on his instrument. One thing is abundantly clear: Europe has a new jazz star.
This story begins with just one sound, originating in the place which Berlin jazz people think of as their living room, the A-Trane. Back in December 2019, the club was host to four leading figures in today’s improvised music scene, who turned this cozy space into their blank canvas, their research lab. In eight sets over four nights, piano phenomenon Michael Wollny, re-inventor of the soprano saxophone Emile Parisien, electric bass icon Tim Lefebvre, and that free spirit of the drum kit Christian Lillinger were given free rein.
Emile Parisien this year received the prestigious French jazz award Victoires du Jazz as "musician of the year" and in 2012 won the Prix Django Reinhardt . Such accolades are evidence of a supreme talent, now given an international platform by ACT. The saxophonist has appeared on ACT once before, in the Duo Series alongside Vincent Peirani, but his Quartet is a different beast altogether, honed over the course of three albums into a tightly cohesive unit which enables the musicians to tackle the abstract time signatures and swift changes with consummate ease.