A profound, understated album which successfully straddles the classical/jazz divide.
On paper this album is a recipe for disaster: a jazz trio of alto sax, electric guitar, and double bass improvising over themes by Baroque and early music heavyweights J.S.Bach, Dowland, Handel et al. But Jacques Lousier this most decidedly is not.
Brooklyn based bandleader Jon de Lucia not only make a success of this thorny project, he and his fellow musicians do so with grace and elegance. From the intoxicating, otherworldly original Chant, with its shruti-box drone and Gregorian motif, to a painfully beautiful interpretation of Lascia ch'io pianga, this is album which in spite of its singularly slow pace sparkles with energy and life. De Lucia weaves considered, smooth (but never sickly) Konitz-esque lines from his alto, guitarist Ryan Ferreira’s angular, chromatic counterpoint proving a perfect foil, while Chris Tordini’s rooted-to-the-core-of-the-Earth bass is something both Haden and Handel alike would surely have approved.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of this album is that the end result seems so obvious and natural, yet novel. There is an effortlessness which belies the intense study which must have gone into such a project; to improvise on these tunes without sounding corny (i.e. overtly jazzy) is no small feat. And testament to the skill of De Lucia and his band that his original tunes sit so comfortably alongside the classics.
Expertly recorded by Jonathan Goldberger in the sublime acoustic of St Ann and the Holy Trinity Church, Brooklyn, the listener is transported to a different place and time. It is music which sounds at once sacred, historic, futuristic, even sci-fi.