St. Germain and Erik Trufazz
Tourist, and The Mask (Blue Note)
Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., Nov. 10, 2000
Tourist (Blue Note)
The Mask (Blue Note)What makes these two Paris-based "acid jazz" albums among the most well-received releases of 2000 is the extraordinary way they use up-to-the-minute grooves and classic reggae riddems, along with more traditional jazz sensibilities, to birth a colorful pastiche of blindingly hip musical derivations. St. Germain, the moniker used by chameleon-like house/electronica producer Ludovic Navarre for this project, is particularly adventurous as he samples, loops, splices, and dices his way across the musical terrain, mixing roots with modernity. Funk, Latin, reggae, and hip-hop beats suffuse throughout the album, often oozing in and out of tunes as if to catch the listener off-guard. "Rose Rouge" opens the set with its looped piano and drums refrain, reminiscent of Brubeck & Desmond's beloved "Take Five." Sounds an awful lot like a hip-hop version of the Jazz Crusaders from their "Scratch" days. "Land Of" bounces along until, before you know it, you're skanking to a "Familyman" Barrett bassline copped from a Burning Spear anthem. In a guest appearance, Jamaican guitar king Ernest Ranglin picks out a tasty tune that downyard might be akin to hearing George Benson in Dub. There's even a smidgen of Delta blues guitar that whiffs through the hypnotic piano comping on "Sure Thing." Every track is a delightful and sometimes surreal melange of aural surprises. A tad more straight-ahead, French trumpeter Erik Trufazz and his quartet make their American debut here with a terrific collection of original tunes culled from three European releases they recorded for Blue Note since 1997. Their atmospheric sound is heavily indebted to early electric Miles Davis, replete with lazer-point muted trumpet and the requisite Fender Rhodes piano vamps and wah-wahs. The fulcrum, however, is drummer Marc Erbetta's def(t) use of drum and bass and hip-hop beats, which transforms the set from a mere homage to a declarative statement of hipness. Imagine In A Silent Way done up junglist style. Tres cool!