Four top European and American jazz artists
combine forces to create eight colorful and intriguing originals.
The post-bop music covers a variety of moods, puts the emphasis on the ensembles, and is full of subtle surprises.
SHIJIN is a co-op group consisting of saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart, keyboardist Malcolm Braff, bassist Laurent David, and drummer Stéphane Galland. Each of the musicians has vast experience in a variety of idioms with creative jazz being the foundation. For their self-titled recording debut, the international quartet performs eight group originals that, while open to fusion and the funkier side of jazz, are beyond any simple classification and reflect their varied musical journeys.
The opening “Smells Funny” is a menacing strut that has tenorist Schwarz-Bart and bassist David playing the theme with the support of keyboardist Braff and drummer Galland. The music soon gets heated with the soloists improvising over an infectious groove. The funky “Anemoi” is concise with Schwarz-Bart taking the lead on soprano with the electronic ensemble building up the music before fading out.
The colorful “Afro Bear” lets listeners imagine a bear having some adventures in the wilderness. The episodic piece has a catchy theme and mostly focuses on the group’s distinctive ensemble sound. “New Neighborhood” features a folkish melody that is played by Schwarz-Bart at several different tempos over the stimulating rhythms.
While a generally laidback performance, “The Bait” finds the group infusing the number with plenty of passion. “Blitzt’s Z’Zuri?” has a hot tenor solo from Schwarz-Bart and features Braff playing complex lines on his keyboards. “Discomania” is not really disco but 1970s-style fusion with Braff taking the lead. SHIJIN concludes with “The Edgewater Hotel,” a joyful original based on a rhythmic figure played by Galland.
Each of the musicians has had impressive solo careers. Jacques Schwarz-Bart was born in Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. Being the son of a pair of prominent writers, he seemed headed for a career as a statesman. However at 24 Schwarz-Bart began playing the saxophone, he started studying at Berklee three years later, and he has been a busy musician ever since. Along the way he has worked with Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor, Danilo Perez, Ari Hoenig, Meshell Ndegeocello, D’Angelo and Chucho Valdes. As a leader he formed the Gwoka Jazz Project, blended modern jazz with ritual voodoo music in The Jazz Racine Haiti project, and collaborated with pianist Omar Sosa in The Creole Spirits.
Stéphane Galland, who is from Belgium, started playing drums when he was three. After taking lessons in classical percussion, he began playing jazz when he was 11. With his group AKA MOON, he has recorded over 20 CDs and performed worldwide. Galland has explored many different cultures in collaborations with artists from Africa, India, Asia, Turkey, Europe and America and has worked with such top jazz artists as Joe Zawinul, Joe Lovano, Toots Thielemans, Philip Catherine, Mark Turner, and Robin Eubanks. His own project LOBI explores multiple ancient musical traditions in a modern and futuristic way.
Pianist and keyboardist Malcolm Braff was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, grew up in Dakar and Switzerland, and began playing piano in public when he was just six. He has led over 20 records of his own and has performed around the world, often leading his own groups.
Bassist Laurent David from Paris started out studying classical guitar before switching to the electric bass guitar when he got involved in jazz. He has worked and recorded with the jazz trio TRIAS, guitarist Ahmad Mansour, Ibrahim Maalouf, and a variety of adventurous improvising musicians, appeared at many European jazz festivals. He is the creator and artistic director of the non-profit music label Alter Nativ recently shifted his home base to New York.
The combination of Schwarz-Bart, Galland, Braff and David results in musical magic throughout the consistently intriguing, accessible and unpredictable SHIJIN.
Jacques Schwarz-Bart / Stéphane Galland / Malcolm Braff / Laurent David "SHIJIN" (alter-nativ / Music Box Publishing / Absilone AN100) Street Date: October 26, 2018
Jacques Schwarz-Bart-Saxophone, Stéphane Galland-Drums,
Laurent David-Bass- Production
UPC Code: 3341348434919