Médéric Collignon and the magnetic trio Gianni Gebbia – Ommagio to Sidney Bechet
(Sicilia Jazz Festival 2022. Review by AJ Dehany)
You will not forget your first encounter with the malice and the mania of Mederic Collignon – the wild man of the cornet, flugelhorn and other pioneering innovations in electronics, rubber tubing and vocalization. He is the “godfather” of the estimable Couleurs Jazz Radio, of which his colleague Jacques Pauper told us: “If you haven’t seen Médéric – in his own words, expect to see a clown on stage…” In English, the word can mean stupid, so the comparison is more appropriate to the jesterthe defiant jester whose inhales and exhales often express darker, usually satirical motivations.
He describes part of his role in this Franco-Sicilian collaboration with the soprano saxophonist maestro Gianni Gebbia and his longtime magnetic trio with bassist Gabriel Bevilacqua and drummer Carmelo Graceffa. Their Ommagio to Sidney Bechet was a highlight of the second edition of the Sicilia Jazz Festival which took place in Palermo, Sicily. Performed at Teatro Santa Cecilia, their concert presented a vibrant postmodern tribute to Sidney Bechet, one of the troubled creators and masters of music. With a left-field approach, they explored Bechet’s vital legacy through Gebbia’s striking original compositions and their incisive rendition of Bechet’s signature song “Petite Fleur”. It has been said that there are three main figures in jazz who are at the root of everything that has happened since: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Sidney Bechet. As Wynton Marsalis says of Bechet: “He gave us the rhythm, the phrasing. Today we take that for granted, but it was a bold statement then.
Gianni Gebbia, a master of circular breathing, sets up dense arpeggios and pedal ostinatos that take the language of early jazz and take it through the new techniques of postclassical minimalism and much older Sardinian. launeddas, who fascinatingly anticipated these mesmerizing forms. The syncopated rhythms of drums and bass cut through to unnerving effect, and finally one can add Collignon’s left-field altercations and disruptions, extreme phrasing and experimentation that add an edginess to a powerful mix that sounds decidedly contemporary. . At the same time, he questions “rhythm, phrasing”. Wacky and exciting, the band’s unsettling vigor and rigor powerfully recall and evoke the inspiration of their tribute. Collignon himself explains the power of taking on a big piece like “Petite Fleur”: “It allows the band to play with speeds, shifts, space-time bubbles, tears and returns to the object quite simply .”
Sidney Bechet was born in 1897 in New Orleans, where he played clarinet in ad hoc ensembles, working alongside Louis Armstrong to develop the Swing style. He used to play fast arpeggios, with exciting glissandi on the soprano that are impossible on the trumpet, and he played it loud. Very strong. That distinctive wild and wide vibrato is paired with his striking use of that upright soprano sax he found in London in 1919, which he played from a catchy angle. He could play C above C above high C three octaves above the soprano range, biting the reed. Bill Goodman said “Man, there’s no note like that!”
Likewise, Gebbia plays soprano with a crystal mouthpiece, and the noises Collignon can produce from a length of rubber hose wrapped around her fist will make your hair stand on end. His avant-garde approach to the fearsome jazz scat vocal is energetic and oddly endearing… but that’s the weirdness of the jester rather than the birthday party clown. When the band entered the slower atmospheric material of “Francesco e il Sultano”, the long melodic lines were reminiscent of South African band Side Bar aka Shabaka and the Ancestors, with a hauntingly meditative sense that left room for reflection. The intensity and power of Gebbia’s band is underpinned by an evocation of that subtle melancholy that is the hallmark of Sidney Bechet’s style: taking New Orleans funeral traditions and associations in a minor key and remelt into the big, bold sound and dynamic energy of swing. concert hall of the time.
If some, like Médéric Collignon, embrace their madness, others have it fall on them – and the story of Sidney Bechet is in many ways sad. In 1925, the most European of jazz founding fathers left for Europe and did not return to the United States until 1935, where he found himself unknown as Armstrong and others recorded and made a name for themselves. During the forties his fortunes improved, but he felt that the jazz scene in the United States was becoming stale. He emigrated permanently to France in 1951. He died in Paris in 1959. Since then his influence on music has continued to grow, but I am grateful to Médéric Collignon and Gianni Gebbia’s Magnetic Trio for such a passionate reminder of a complicated legacy, and to the Sicilia Jazz Festival for organizing it. The group recorded at the French Institute in Palermo the day before the concert. I can’t wait to hear the result, and to immerse myself in this rich and generous synthesis of styles and influences from more than a century of inspiration.
AJ Dehany writes independently about music, art and stuff and was the guest of Sicilia Jazz
LINKS: Sicilia Jazz Festival website
Gianni Gebbia’s website
The extensive Magnetic trio catalog on Bandcamp
Médéric Collignon does the ‘Proust Questionnaire’ for Jazz Colors
Treat it gently documentary on Sidney Bechet
List of sets:
1-Prospero (Gianni Gebbia)
2-Satiology (Gabrio Bevilacqua)
3 identical brushes (Gianni Gebbia)
4-Little flower (Sidney Bechet)
5-Romeo (Gianni Gebbia)
6-Nievski in love (Gianni Gebbia)
7-Francesco and the Sultano (Gianni Gebbia)