Erik Truffaz Mantis Review

BBC Review

he places gorgeous jazz that wouldn't appear to be out of place on a 50s Blue Note...

Colin Buttimer 2002

Erik Truffaz. I've caught him live twice. First time I grinned (and danced!) like an idiot for the pleasure of the experience; here was a band at ease with themselves, happy to experiment (as an encore there was an absolutely wicked drum and bass workout punctuated by an entrancing solo on a rubber balloon) and very funky.

A year later I was shocked to encounter a completely new band (christened The Ladyland Quartet in honour of Jimi Hendrix), the one found here on Mantis. For anyone new to Truffaz the most notable element of the music may be the frequent presence of live drum'n'bass underpinning various flavours of jazz. So too with this album; "The Point" kicks in with said breakbeat for a few bars, then the (double) bass kicks in, next a metallic Scofield-like guitar and at the minute mark Erik plays his first note. As the track draws to an end, the aftertaste is of mutating breakbeat, pathos-ridden trumpet, coruscating guitar. "La Memoire Du Silence" slows the pace right down to create an effective mood piece, all double bass, space, held notes, plangent trumpet. After the opening track the sound here is surprisingly traditional and here lies part of Truffaz's appeal; he places gorgeous jazz that wouldn't appear to be out of place on a 50s Blue Note session right besides contemporary dance rhythms... and he makes it work.

By "Saisir" we're into a hiphop beat that speeds up into breakbeat halfway through. Key point is: these beats are convincing, organic, not programmed or seemingly bought off the shelf as with the likes of Nels Petter Molvaer, Tim Hagans or St Germain.

Mantis is an extremely varied set - breakbeat workouts, a gentle guitar/trumpet duet, guitar mayhem, a megaphone disquisition (really), Arabic influences in the striking guest vocal of Mounir Troudi. Truffaz's playing style is an interesting amalgam of the languorous side of Blue Note jazz, the 'every note counts' approach of Miles Davis and the breathy softness of Jon Hassell. His sound is as warm and full of pathos as his lived-in face would suggest. He's very generous in terms of the amount of space he gives to the band, with lots of welcome solos from everybody.

With Mantis Truffaz and his group successfully weave a surprisingly wide variety of influences into a cohesive tapestry all their own. I'm already looking forward to hearing the next album. (In the meantime Mr Truffaz, any chance of releasing a live recording from your previous band?)

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