To be honest, I ordered the CD "Way of Life" by the Céline Bonacina Trio because I saw Nguyên Lê was on it and had also mastered it for ACT Music. So, whatever else I was going to encounter, I was sure to get an audiophile quality CD with some great guitar on it.
The inside cover of the CD, then, shows a rather frail woman with a saxophone ... a BARITONE saxophone almost as tall as she is! I also discovered that Céline wrote 9 of 13 tracks herself.
And straight from the intro of the first track "ZigZag Blues", I knew this is one record I'm going to take with me for auditions in future. However, that is not the really important bit. That first spectacular line was also the opener of a 52 minutes inventive, grooving, pulsing, very diverse and exciting musical journey that didn't loose its fascination for a second.
Next to Céline's virtuosity, that she shows on alto and soprano as well as baritone sax btw, one is soon to discover her companions Nicolas Garnier and Hary Ratsimbazafy (exercise to pronounce that name). Great percussion on "Course pour Suite" or "Ra Bentr'ol" for example. Between them, a joyful dialogue between instruments with abrupt rhythmic bursts and changes, yet always coherent. In the fourth track "Wake Up" Nguyên Lê joins in. Don't know yet? Think of the glowing warmth of Joe Pass's guitar at McLaughlinesque speed. After all that ebullience, change of mood with the almost melancholic "Free Woman" and on to "Travel Story", a theme that I'm sure would become a classic if an inspired director used it in a movie. Next, "Ekena" rhythmically explodes again followed by "Deep Red", a fantastic 1:34 solo tour-de-force on that gigantic baritone sax, breathtaking in its truest sence! "RAB", "Histoire de" and especially "Entre deux Rêves", the 3 tracks written by R. Molinier (a composer I don't know, I confess) are altogether in another vein: atmospherically dense, contortive sometimes but always as brilliantly played by the Trio. In the highly energetic "Jungle", then, Céline plays some alto sax lines at near light speed and by this time some will surely want to discover more of Nguyên Lê's guitar work (hah, check out his cd "Purple, celebrating Jimi Hendrix"). The journey ends with "Tôty Come Bach" a delightfully baroque (!) stroke of genius on the baritone sax.
You guessed it, as per today this is my jazz album of the year, pity it's not available on vinyl as well. Light years away from too many recordings that may be perfectly played technically, but are just endlessly boring or the umpteenth rendition of some classics for lack of inspiration. This one is pure creative energy.
I found some video clips of the Trio playing in Vienne (that is ViennE in France, not ViennA).http://www.celine-bonacina.com/spip.php?article128
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