Erik Truffaz The Walk Of The Giant Turtle Review

Album. Released 2003.  

BBC Review

Gallic Nu-jazz trumpet star switches tack with this latest release for Blue Note.

Colin Buttimer 2002

"Scody Part I" steals in with ebbing keyboard tones and gradually gathers momentum with siren trumpet, tin-like percussion and a bass which bears a marked resemblance to a trapped wasp angrily trying to escape. The overall sound rather startlingly resembles Cuong Vu until "Scody Part II" appears and the group kick into a bit of old school jazz-funk.

This effortlessly subverts the rather steely atmosphere of what went before and as the track continues the two styles, instead of cancelling each other out, wash together into a new hybrid form. A marching rhythm like an insect kingdom on the move temporarily succeeds it and then the track returns to its jazz-funky dance and fades.

These first two tracks might prove to be something of a surprise to anyone expecting breakbeat interspersed with straightahead jazz interludes as per Truffaz's previous work. But that's nothing compared to the way "King B" slaps you upside the head with a bass that's morphed into a whole nest of escaped hornets, a trumpet sound that's less siren and more vengeful Medusa, ably blended with chiming Fender Rhodes and thrashing drums.

The image on the back cover best illustrates this new sound: the black and white picture is taken from the side of the stage with the group looking like nothing so much as a nu-metal band (sans masks) playing to an audience blurred in enthusiastic response. "King B" is great fun, energetic, noisy, playful, but also melodic and full of detail.

"Flamingos" provides contemplative respite replete with echoingRhodes and heartfelt, expressive trumpet navigating peaks and troughs of passion and exhaustion. "Turiddu" contains the first sign of Marc Erbetta's trademark pensive breakbeats. The track echoes with a gorgeous piano figure from Patrick Muller out of which flowers a brief, lachrymose solo from Truffaz.

"Next Door" jumps back into the moshpit and it's really difficult not to want to dive in with it. Marcello Giuliani's bass is set to chainsaw mode and descends with the others into a swirling maelstrom before racing onwards in a washed-up Rhodes extravaganza. There's an almost gothic, guitarless noisiness which recalls early Young Gods.

According to some pundits the musical tide is turning and rock's star is in the ascendant. If so, Truffaz is riding the wave with spirit. The group seem to be moving further away from traditional jazz solos into a more integrated instrumental sound. Truffaz embraces melody, it's one of the key attractors of his music.

The whole sound of this album is different from its predecessor, right down to the hiss that can be heard at the limits of many tracks (a far cry from the reverb of Mantis). The Walk of the Giant Turtle evokes a spectrum of moods which on the slower tracks often sound distinctly filmic. Its stylistic unpredictability and sheer gusto makes for vital listening.

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