Label/Year: The Bridge Sessions, 2017
Lineup – Marquis Hill: trumpet; Jeff Parker: guitar; Joachim Florent: bass; Denis Fournier: drums.
Escape Lane is an avant-garde jazz record and quartet that feels cohesive regardless the distinct backgrounds and styles of its members.
Trumpeter Marquis Hill shows an inclination for groundbreaking sounds, feeling comfortable in playing over inventive rhythms as he explores fresh musical concepts. In his latest works as a leader, Hill has been teaming up with altoist Christopher McBride and the quirky drummer Makaya McCraven, both longtime collaborators.
Creative guitarist Jeff Parker, a member of the indie rock band Tortoise since 1998, loves to electrify the air around him with chops that aggregate free improvisation, avant-jazz, and stylish art-rock. As a sideman, he teamed up with Fred Anderson, Joshua Redman, Brian Blade, and Scott Amendola.
Not so prolific in terms of recordings, Belgian Joachim Florent studied classical and jazz bass, while the active French percussionist Denis Fournier has embraced several styles in a career that spans almost five decades.
The contrapuntal title track gives an idea of the record’s mood, creating a sensation of dissonance through the polyphonic lines poured out by Hill and Parker. The latter, setting off on an individual exploration, holds the blues and the alternative rock as tools. Hill returns afterward, well backed by the impenetrable foundation created by the rhythm section, to wrap up with an interchange of solicitude and nonchalance.
Entering in a bubbly sphere of bliss, the quartet shows an extreme affinity for balladry on “Le Sel De La Situacion”. In an early phase, Hill’s thoughtful dissertations occupy the center of a song whose placidity is enhanced by Fournier's lenient brushwork and cymbal scratches and Florent's unaccompanied final narrative.
“Lever de Soleil Au Loin Sur La Lac Agité” is 21 minutes long and serves as a showcase for the quartet’s textural ambiances, from airy to paradoxical to groovy. There are many opportunities for individual flights, and Parker, now and then, exhibits a pleasurable folk-jazz disposition to remodel a usually abstract modus operandi. After probing enigmatic paths, one after another, under the rhythmic conduction of Fournier, the tune initiates a swinging motion that serves Hill's motivic efficiency, before decelerating toward a reflective state of limbo.
Introduced by chimes and guitar harmonics, “4800 S. Lake Park” ekes out poetic drifts declaimed by Hill, having Florent’s bowed bass underneath. Similar meditative tones and ruminations build “Une Petetite Fille Danse Asisse” where the trumpeter straddles Coltrane’s exultations and Miles’ cool vibes.
The title “Roughed Grooved Surface” is sufficiently transparent to let us have an idea about its mood. Fournier’s hyperactive drumming and the eerie vibes invented by Parker hang together. The guitarist also uses chromaticism and strident, rapid-fire strokes to respond to Hill’s intercalation of high-pitched blows and ascendant/descendant movements.
Wielding a keen sense of perception, these four explorers create unorthodox layers of sound to be stacked up and become strangely appealing.
02 – Le Sel De La Situacion ► 03 – Lever De Soleil Au Loin Sur La Lac Agite ► 06 – Rough Grooved Surface