Grégoire Maret – Wanted

Grégoire Maret "Wanted"It seems that everything Terri Lyne Carrington touches these days turn to gold. She has produced the latest record by harmonica player Grégoire Maret called “Wanted” and can be heard singing vocals on the opening cut, “2Beats”, which also features rapper Kokayi on a smoothly floating tune that elegantly fades in and wins over with its very cool and sexy denseness that even makes the rap parts tolerable (as you know I’m not really into this usually).

And it gets better: Take 6 member Mark Kibble is featured on another soul gem, a Quincy Jones-like little anthem which is also the title track for the album. It has this certain thickness in the production that can be heard and witnessed as well on Terri’s own, 5-star album from last year. The accompaniment on the album is of the highest caliber: from Gerald Clayton to Gil Goldstein, from Marvin Sewell to Kevin Breit – the musicianship is top notch.

And talk about the special guests: saxophonist Chris Potter can be heard on a stripped-down, ethereal version of “Blue In Green” that is simply astounding with its deftly arranged bassline courtesy of James Genus. Grégoire has always shown his love for the soulful side of things – the last time I saw him was during New York’s Winter Jazz Fest in January where he performed with a six-piece choir and special guest vocalist Jean Baylor; the set was clearly one of the highlights of this year’s festival. His keyboardist Shedrick Mitchell is back on board here playing a Hammond B3 organ on “Diary Of A Fool”, a track that also features the one and only Frank McComb on one of his most intense moments vocally. This is pure soul vocal bliss – thanks to Onaje Allan Gumbs for this beautiful composition which also boasts with a superb background vocal arrangement.

The harmonica playing never really gets in the way here as is sometimes the case with the somewhat quirky nature of the instrument, but Grégoire sensitively and seductively weaves it in here in effective arrangements. Next up is Dianne Reeves who delivers one of her typical outstanding performances on “Heaven’s” which has her own lyrics set to Grégoire’s haunting composition. It’s an almost esoteric tune with some of the leader’s most astute playing.

Luciana Souza is featured on wordless vocals on “Groove”, another one of those easily floating pieces that sounds like a newly discovered Pat Metheny/Lyle Mays tune right out of the “Offramp” phase with an extended piano/harmonica interplay that just grooves like hell; hence the title. Speaking of groove: Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” is done with a swaggering jazz/funk groove and some mean playing by both the leader and Gerald Clayton. Things turn Brazilian with the legendary Ivan Lins and his wordless vocals that harmonically match perfectly with the leader’s instrument (“Voo Do Pássaro”).

The final two pieces are the sweet and lovely “Talking Drums” including a string quartet and percussion by Mino Cinelu and the heartbreaking “26th Of May” (hey that’s today) which features the last recorded statement of Mister Jimmy Scott.

 

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