I admit I missed some recent concerts due to external obstacles as well as bit of summer laziness but I put a mental note about this date quite some time ago. The idea of saxophone quartet playing medieval mass from XIII century seemed too intriguing, too unique opportunity to pass by lightly.
As the french quartet (two altos, tenor, baritone) plays the music by Guilleme Machaut you can feel the spiritual depth of this music, the immense richness of the harmony, the cerebral tone. This is truly a celebration of sacrum and the fluid, everchanging chords of the choral rise slowly as a prayer to the sky. The paradigm order of this vocal music, its clarity and purity is put into focus, paradoxically, by the improvisation elements, which, to my much enexpected pleasure, the quartet is far from any conservatory one could think of.
Every player shares a fair spotlight. Two altos battle in the prayer of shrieking, spiritual cries that cuts through the air raising as high as possible in the second piece of the evening. After a faithfull to the notation reading of "Sanctus", there's a baritone solo that first interlays sudden blast of slaptongued low-note and metallic whisper, soon squeezing out of the horn every possible rumble and hum and growl, the sonorus experience being magnified by the echo on the speakers (effect probably set to emulate the acoustics of the mediaval church). The interlude leads to a group improvisation, a chorus of alternating chords and dissonances, cut suddenly and finished by the short coda, one would be hard to immagine a possibile more contrasting music together. There's also the heavenly lyrical tenor interlude to "Kyrie". They finish the program with "Gloria".
While the idea of medieval music might not be to the fancy of a regular jazz listeners, I hope among the blog's reader there are no listeners of "regular jazz" nor "regular listeners of jazz". The music played by the french group is powerfull, monumental and illuminating. Magnifique.
(I'm afraid I can't really find the personnel details anywhere on the web, hope I'll manage to complete the data)
17th Summer Jazz Festival
Piwnica Pod Baranami. Krakow.27.07.2012