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Family Tree

ACT 9834-2






  1. Le Bonheur

  2. Riddim

  3. Family Tree

  4. Zig Zagriyen

  5. Le Parfum

  6. Sizé

  7. Filao

  8. Ladja

  9. Seducing The Sun

  10. Happy Invasion

  11. La Maga

  12. Galactica

    Grégory Privat - Piano

    Linley Marthe - Double bass

    Tilo Bertholo - Drums

    When I lived in the neighbouring island of Dominica in the late 1960s, Martinique, in the French West Indies, had several claims to fame, apart from its natural beauty. For instance, a volcanic eruption in 1902 destroyed the then capital of the island, Saint-Pierre. Martinique was also the birthplace of the Empress Joséphine, the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. A more recent distinction, at least for lovers of jazz piano, will surely be the fact that one of the brightest recent arrivals in the genre, Grégory Privat, was born in Martinique, too. Influenced by his father, José Privat, himself a pianist for a notable Caribbean band, the young Grégory started classical piano lessons at six and by his mid-teens was composing for his local high school outfit. After a move to France, to study engineering in Toulouse, he relocated on graduation to Paris, where his jazz career began in earnest. The second disc he recorded, Tales of Cyparis, was essentially a tribute to his native island, Cyparis having been one of only three survivors of the volcanic eruption of 1902 among the inhabitants of Saint-Pierre, due a strange combination of circumstances which subsequently led to him touring with Barnum and Bailey!

    It is clear that Grégory is proud of his roots and finds ways of expressing that through his music. He is at home on piano, Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer, as well as being a composer of promise. In the recent past, he has collaborated with Sonny Troupé, the drummer/percussionist from Guadalope, another French Caribbean island, as well as with the Swedish bassist Lars Danielsson in his Liberetto Ensemble. Danielsson writes approvingly of his new recruit on the liner note of what is Privat's first trio album for ACT. The disc proves to be an exercise in contrasting styles. There are helter-skelter tracks, energetic and bustling. Yet there are also reflective, moving and gentle pieces of real beauty. Personally, my preferences lie with the latter, especially as exemplified by Filao, a melodic and wistful piece which showcases Privat's talents and shows just how good he can be. He is helped by some deft and stylish bass-playing from Linley Marthe and Bertholo's empathetic drumming. The opening of Le Parfum evokes a Duke Ellington composition, African Flower, for a few moments before launching into a flowing, exquisite number from Privat, with bass and drums fully on board. La Maga is touched with sadness. Marthe reveals a sublime touch on bass and there is sensitive work on cymbals by Bertholo. Not far behind these three choices is the opening track, Le Bonheur, a lovely melody rendered with finesse by all concerned. Family Tree is another distinctive tune which builds slowly and possesses an elegaic quality. Seducing The Sun is a romantic ballad with intriguing changes of rhythm.

    For those who prefer more robust fare, I recommend Ladja, an item inspired by a traditional martial art from Martinique. Played for the most part at breakneck speed, Privat shows impressive technique. Happy Invasion is lively, up-tempo and pursued with vigour. Sizé is similarly energetic. There is plenty of drive and movement, as well as tempo changes, inRiddim. I was less enamoured with the repetitive Zig Zagriyen or the roller-coaster Galactica, though there were quality moments in both. What emerges from the disc as a whole is the group's appreciation of what makes good music and their fluent and engaging delivery. ACT have another fine trio on their books.

    James Poore

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