Grégoire Maret -][- Grégoire Maret –MP3– [eOne Entertainment, 2012 | Review]
It’s by no accident Harmonicist extraordinaire Grégoire Maret is one of those significant artists that comes into our lives and touches the deepest emotions of our heart and soul with passion, grace and intrigue. Moreover, his “Self-Titled” project on eOne Entertainment Maret’s unwavering and intuitive suites unfolds the opulent tonality, immediate rhythms and compelling melodies driven by his spellbinding creativity as a soloist is exactly what I look for musically.
While growing up in Genève, Switzerland with his Harlem born mother and Swiss born father it had to be a culturally interesting yet inspiring adventure for Grégoire. His parents obviously wanted the best for him and pursued the proper education, influences with an array of musical experiences was vital for his growth. Therefore, Grégoire spend time building his musical bridges at the prestigious Conservatoire Superieur de Musique de Genève and later he decided to undertake jazz studies at New York’s New School University.
With this project, Maret enlisted an arsenal of prolific talent. Likewise, they are called to bring life to these flawless and engaging compositions on this session that includes veteran producer Matt Pierson, longtime collaborator and pianist Federico Gonzalez Pena, James Genus & Marcus Miller on bass, Clarence Penn and Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts plays drums, Bashir Johnson and Mino Cinelu percussion, Brandon Ross on guitar, songstress Cassandra Wilson, Jean-Christophe Mallard– harp, and Raul Midon – vocals along with host of others.
The opener “Lucilla’s Dream,” the first of fifteen compositions in a four song suite sets the atmosphere to capture the splendor of Grégoire’s musical identity. His tone is filled with euphonious melodies coupled with the ensembles dynamic interplay is absolutely captivating. The melodic and fascinating “The Secret Life of Plants” is a hand-picked tune by Maret is a tribute to superstar Stevie Wonder follows yet it’s redefined by Grégoire’s tone, and prowess matches the original piece. Maret as a leader fills the gaps by widening the spectrum with his delightful and inventive synergy.
Vocalist Cassandra Wilson is onboard with the infectious “The Man I Love.” As one would expect Cassandra works this song with sobering distinction, she adds to right combination of tenor and soul to this lovely piece. The ensemble of course compliments this masterpiece by layering unexpected and distinctive voicings underneath. The bluesy yet haunting mid-west sound of “Travels” is flawless and mirrors the original by Pat Metheny. Maret expands the language by shaping this mesmeric soundscape to end the first of five thematic suites.
Next up, we have the “Crepuscule Suite” – “5:37 PM (Intro)” is an interlude song aligned with a piece called “Crepuscule” which is squeeze in the middle features Grammy Award Winning bassist Marcus Miller. The irony of this gem it encompasses a unified sound underscored which spotlights the intricacies of jazz as the umbrella envelopes the unique dexterousness impressions of Miller’s versatility as musician is a music lovers delight. Pianist Federico Gonzalez Pena is truly amazing, his voice is graceful, and virtuous as given an invitation to this unwavering ensemble to explore even deeper is simply mesmerizing. “Crepuscule” is definitely my favorite so far. The breathtaking “4:28 AM (Outro)” wholes its own and concludes this enthralling suite.
The chivalrous “Manha’ Du Sol” begins the next suite features two outstanding musicians Raul Midon & Tami Samantha Hayes on background vocals. Grégoire boldly takes charge with his instrument fixed horizontality, remarkably his tone blurs with anticipation as he successfully joins ideas with acclaimed percussionist Mino Cinelu to reinforce the beauty of unification in the spirit of song. A lyrically transcending piece titled “Prayer” is placed in the mid-section of this elegant suite. “Prayer” features two incomparable voices Mark Kibble and Alvin Chea of the genre bursting Take 6. This absorbing hymn reminds me so much of Pat Metheny, better yet it echoes Lyle Mays like approach and arrangement masks the voicing of Kibble and Chea with excellence. The sophisticated “Lembra De Mim” concludes this wonderful trilogy.
“Children’s Suite” features three winsome pieces “The Womb, Children’s Song and Outro.” The placement of plush and mysterious backing vocals is intoxicating throughout this amazing journey that Maret willfully uncovered and continues to do so with the explosive and enchanting “Children’s Song.” It seems to me, the mid-selections in each collective suite are the most embryonic, soulful and inspiring pieces infused throughout. WOW, what a joy … meanwhile “Outro” is ingrained with intimate side of mosaic repertoire as in the other songs Maret has arranged in this collection. In fact, I have difficulty pulling myself away from these gems because they draw me deeper into the essence and spirit of who he is compositionally.
Concluding this distinguished an adventurous suite is “O Amor E O Meu Pais” originally pen by Brazilian superstar Ivan Lins features another notable voice Toots Thielemans on harmonica, what an honor! Finally, song wise a beautiful Afro Brazilian composition titled “Ponita De Areia” by Brant Fernando Rocha and Milton Nascimento is a famous way to end a session.
In no way, form or fashion should I have been surprised by Grégoire Maret, he is without question a quintessential voice in modern jazz. I’m thankful, enthralled and ready for return for another spin to hear his phenomenal sound as it consumes my soul into the fabric of this extraordinary canvas of music. At last, for the adventurous enthusiasts and maybe not so this record is a keeper for those who haven’t embellished his marvelous gift you’ll wonder were on earth you have been so long. Fear not, my good friends if you will join me for another intense and colorful musical journey. —Rob Young | Urban Flux Media