7th Mar 2019
During the first weekend of this year's EFG London Jazz Festival, we sent Howard Caine, alumni member of writing initiative, The Wright Stuff, to review Henri Texier in the Purcell Room. Here's what he thought of the show:
'There are few certainties in life it seems other than death and taxes. To that select list I would respectfully add the venerable Henri Texier.
'I don't know how many times I've seen the veteran bassist, but no matter what the format, he always delivers. A few years ago his set with long term associate Aldo Romano on drums and Sebastien Texier on reeds, accompanying Guy Lequerrec's wonderful photographic documentation of Texier's African travels was the highlight of the festival for many of those who were lucky enough to attend.
'His Hope Quartet features son Sebastien again accompanied by Francois Corneloup on baritone sax with drum duties taken by Louis Moutin. The set at EFG LJF 2014 was very much based around his latest release on the ever-wonderful Label Bleu, A L'Improviste, recorded in 2013. In Moutin, Texier has again found a perfect foil – essential in a quartet for which rhythmic pulse is the very heartbeat of the music. Like Romano and the wonderful Tony Rabeson before him, Moutin has a rolling, free-limbed approach to the drums, a physicality and generous use of tom-toms and hands-on skins. This sits perfectly within Texier's organic soundscapes which owe as much to the African bush as they do to the Parisian jazz scene of the 1960s.
'The music is always evocative, conjuring up images of savannahs and tribal villages, verdant forests or arid dust bowls, life-giving water and flowing rivers. Above all perhaps, mankind's somewhat less than maternal relationship with mother earth. Texier also pays homage to others who have understood the rhythm of life. O Elvin had a polyrhythmic drive of which the late Mr Jones would surely have approved, whilst Song for Paul Motian had a typically abstract and left-of-centre theme which left it swimming in the head long after the notes had sunk into the ether.
'Sitting imp-like in the middle of the stage, hunched over his bass, Texier drives the music with a natural ease and humour, reflected in his wonderfully light touch with the audience. When a woman left the hushed calm of the Purcell Room after the first number, high heels clacking loudly on the wooden floor, the bassist hopped off his stool to watch her go. “Do you hate me?!” he demanded as the door closed behind her. Then to the audience, “She loved me until she heard my music.”
'Don't worry Henri – her loss. And there's still a lot of love out there for you.'
The Write Stuff