Monday, September 7, 2009

Discovering Henri Texier

One of the services yours truly provides is this: I spend some time digging through the fifteen hundred pages of the Penguin Guide to Jazz, and lately the equally weighty All Music Guide, and when I find something borrowed, something blue in those vast libraries, I bring it to your attention.

This weekend, just after posting on John Patitucci, I was thumbing through the former when what to my wondering eye should appear but the entry for Henri Texier. What snagged my line was the name Joe Lovano on Texier's album Izlaz. If Joe is on it... And it got four stars in the PG. After some sampling and hesitation, I invested. eMusic has Izlaz bundled with Colonel Skopje. I dropped the package.

Henri Texier is French for "Henry of Texas." I just made that up, of course, but wouldn't it be a great story if it were true? Texier is indeed French, and plays the double bass. He is obscure enough that he isn't yet in the Encyclopedia of Jazz. Barnes and Noble has just one of his albums, Colonel Skopje, for sale. So I expect, dear readers, that today's offerings will be a surprise.

Izlaz is a stellar set, one of those recordings you listen to and feel like you found bag of gold coins. What if you had looked the other way? Texier lays down a solid and rich foundation with his double bass. Lovano occupies most of the space just as he does on the Patitucci album. He also plays a range of horns. Steve Swallow plays bass, and Aldo Romano beats the drums. On Colonel Skopje is the same group two months latter (1988) but with John Abercrombie on guitar. I think the former set is better, but not by much. Here is a sample from the first. It's a Carla Bley composition.
Henri Texier/Ups and Downs/Izlaz
Okay, so I couldn't resist a second eMusic offering by Texier: Respect. Bob Brookmeyer plays valve trombone, an instrument that I can't get enough of. I am a big fan of Brookmeyer's big band album, New Works, and I am not a fan of big bands. Brookmeyer spars with another hero of mine, Lee Konitz. I love Konitz's work across the board, but I am not sure I have ever heard him play more accessible and at the same time deeply engaging music than on this recording. Steve Swallow is also here, and he plays his bass like he thinks it's a guitar. If all that weren't enough, Paul Motian is the drummer. What a marvelous album! Everything on it is exciting. It's like a great collection of short stories: each one gets you going all over again.

Here is the masterpiece inside the masterpiece.
Henri Texier/The Year of the Dragon/Respect
I have listened to this one three times tonight. God bless you Henri! You deserve a place in the pantheon for these three recordings.

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