|TITLE||SONG FOR RENE|
|FORMAT||1 CD||1 LP|
|CATALOG #||WMCD-0040||DD 8003|
||Recorded at Festival de Huy, Belgium
|A01||Face Reality||CULLAZ Alby
||O Quaio||ALVIM Cesarius
|A05||Ballad Ad Lib||N/A
|A06||Softly As In A Morning Sunrise||HAMMERStEIN Oscar
|A07||Song For RenÚ||GRAILLIER Michel
|CULLAZ Alby : bass|
GRAILLIER Michel : piano
PELZER Jacques : flute / saxophone
PELZER Micheline : drums / vocals
|Jacques Pelzer was at the forefront of belgian jazz
for some fifty years. But his playing embraced all post war jazz styles
without losing creative direction. From his work with the Bob Shots
(Rene Thomas, Bobby Jaspar, Fats Sadi a.o.) through post-bop, free and
fusion jazz, with myriad adventures along the way (three tours with Chet
Baker for example), Pelzer left the belgian and global jazz fraternity
with some jazz to treasure.
whatmusic.com previously documented (father and daughter) Jacques and Micheline Pelzer’s funky incarnation as leaders of the group Open Sky Unit (OSU) (WMCD/LP-0002), another live recording cut less than a year previously. Evidently some funky skin had been shed in the ensuing months and the personnel changes reflected this – Ron Wilson’s fender rhodes and vocals were replaced by the acoustic piano of Michel Graillier, Micheline Pelzer’s long-term musical and life partner. On the bass front , acoustic modality also replaced electrical, with Alby Cullaz coming in for Janot Buchem. Reedman Steve Houben, a necessary amplicatory addition for Jacques Pelzer in the electric funk context of OSU, was dispensed with.
Thus the quartet crystallised around Jacques’ saxophones and flute and Micheline’s drums for the interesting and varied programme recorded at the Festival de Huy, near Liege, in May 1975, and, luckily for us, recorded for posterity.
‘Face Reality’ – this opener was written by the late bassist Alby Cullaz, brother of guitarist Pierre and son of famous French jazz critic Maurice, (nicknamed ‘Smoothie’ by Louis Armstrong). Presented to the band a week before the Festival de Huy concert in May 1975, the bassist’s offering was warmly and swiftly incorporated into the band’s repertoire. From its shifting modal funk opening section it moves into swinging 4/4 time with telling solos from alto saxophone, piano and bass before closing out with a little more ‘sideways’ funk. The grooviness associated with OSU is still much in evidence here! ‘Naima’ – John Coltrane’s beautiful dedication to his wife, usually encountered as a ballad, is here given an adventurous backbeat- driven platform by Micheline Pelzer. Jacques Pelzer on soprano saxophone contributes a touching statement which is followed by an appropriately crystalline one from Michel Graillier.
The interested listener may also like to check out another ‘different’ take on ‘Naima’, from saxophonists Earl and Carl Grubbs (The Visitors) on ‘Neptune’ (Cobblestone CST 9010, 1971). The Grubbs brothers (Carl alto, Earl tenor) were friends of fellow philadelphian Coltrane, who married their cousin, Naima.
‘Simone’ – saxophonist Frank Foster’s wonderful composition dedicated to Simone Ginibre (former) wife of notable critic and producer Jean-Louis Ginibre, editor of the French ‘Jazz’ magazine in the 1960s and 70s. An optimistic freewheeling waltz in 3/4, with spritely flute solo first up from Pelzer and solid contributions once more from Graillier and Cullaz.
‘O Quaio’ – from the pen of brasilian Cesarius Alvim. Alby Cullaz liked this bossa composed by a fellow bassist of some pedigree (Alvim has worked with with Steve Lacy, Lee Konitz, Chet Baker a.o.) and so it was added to the Pelzer Quartet songbook. Featuring a kind of ‘Blakey-meets-bossa’ beat, it’s a jaunty major-chorded affair with a straight-ahead ‘inside’ and the head at least puts one in mind of certain Art Pepper tunes from his ‘return’ period. Pelzer kicks off on staccato soprano runs, Graillier follows, and Cullaz executes a particularly facile yet warm solo, sensitively shaded by Micheline’s cymbal work.
‘Ballad ad Lib’ – a thoughtful composition – indeed, a ballad with a twist. The composer’s piano underpins the haunting alto melody with rippling arpeggios before unravelling a lyrical solo. Graillier’s motifs lead into the second funky section of the tune in which Jacques Pelzer soloes on alto saxophone. ‘Ballad’ goes out with an attractive coda. ‘Softly As In A Morning Sunrise’ – Tyner-ish chords from Graillier herald Pelzer’s probing soprano solo on this Romberg-Hammerstein classic. Once again the trio swings hard, with Graillier delivering telling post-bop lines in his solo; Cullaz is the last, brief, solo contributor before the whole group takes the tune out on a modal flight.
‘Song for Rene’ – shortly before the concert, legendary belgian guitarist Rene Thomas passed away and Micheline spontaneously improvised this heartfelt elegy on the way to the concert. The music, created by Michel Graillier from Micheline’s vocal sketch, appropriately closes the concert, and is a fitting tribute to a fellow belgian jazz pioneer.
This then is ‘Song For Rene’, the group’s only recording. We hope you enjoy it.