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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

From The Ground
Caratini Jazz Ensemble
Le Chant du Monde 274 1227



From the Ground

1. Temps un
2. Temps deux
3. Temps trois
4. Temps quatre

5. Santa Maria
6. Nina
7. Pinta
Petite suite pour Django

8. Mineure
9. Francaise
10. To the Clouds
Cinq miniatures pour tuba

11. Dialogue
12. Cantilene
13. Valse musette
14. Chanson
15. Swing
..."Bleue comme une orange"...

16. ..."comme une pierre sur le ciel"...
17. ..."debout sur mes paupieres"...
18. ..."s’evaporer les soleils"...
Patrice Caratini (double bass and conductor)
Andre Villeger (alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet)
Matthieu Donarier (tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet, bass clarinet)
Remi Sciuto (baritone, tenor and soprano, flute)
Claude Egea (trumpet)
Pierre Drevet (trumpet)
Denis Leloup (trombone)
Francois Bonhomme (horns)
Patrice Petitdidier (horns)
Francois Thullier (tuba)
Bastien Stil (tuba)
David Chevallier (guitar, banjo)
Alain Jean-Marie (piano)
Manuel Rocheman (piano)
Thomas Grimmonprez (drums)
Thierry Caens (trumpet)
Eric Vinceno (electric bass)
Jean-Claude Montredon (drums)
Sebastien Quezada (percussion)
L’Orchestre Imaginaire-Ensemble Instrumental de Mosselle, conducted by Fabrice Kastel
A four-part composition combining the approaches of classical and jazz, taking the most extreme from both; a collage of different types of music - from Europe, Africa and the Caribbean; a dedication to Django Reinhardt, loosely constructed around simple chords to give the soloists freedom; five small pieces written expressly for the tuba to play the main part; and a work that ‘unfurls in the usual way with a dialogue between the soloist and the orchestra, with one slight difference however, the protagonists belong to two different worlds that don’t have much to do with each other’...

Caratini, it seems fair to say, is a somewhat eccentric composer - even by the standards of modern jazz. But at no point within these five musical suites does he let his work drift in to obscurity. Reading through his detailed notes on each of the compositions, it’s difficult not to be struck by the thought and sheer hard work that created them. Caratini not only hears, but feels and sees his music, endowing each instrument with a personality and a role to play within the whole. Themes, emotions, dialogues, even images give the suites a solid structure and achieve for Caratini ‘meaning in the midst of this apparent disorder’.

From the Ground, however, is far from an esoteric experiment, or a purely intellectual achievement. Despite the detailed compositions, and incredibly tight performances, there remains in the work a certain rawness that lends it incredible character. And for all it’s serious musicality, it’s far from lacking in catchy riffs or charismatic performances. The opening section of ‘From the Ground’ is as energetic as anything in jazz, with Matthieu Donarier’s intense tenor sax blasting through the swells of sound provided by the rest of the ensemble. The final part of ‘Antillas’ is beautiful, playful and highly melodic, building up then releasing tension over a Euro-Caribbean riff (and making the most intelligent use of the banjo I’ve ever heard!). Even ..."Bleue comme une orange"... - the suite with the protagonists from ‘two different worlds’ - is a largely accessible piece of music. Though never exactly easy listening, some pleasant harmonies arise at the points where the protagonists hit on mutual ground. And the climax to the final part (and indeed to the collection as a whole), is suitably energetic and bold, reaching a satisfying resolution.

Intelligently composed, stunningly performed and very well presented, From the Ground is an incredible achievement that will appeal to vast and varied tastes. A worthy addition to any CD collection.

Robert Gibson

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