Imbert: Akim’s Spirit; My Klezmer Dream; Musique aux Images etc; plus works by Coleman, Eisler, Schubert and Wagner
Raphaël Imbert (saxophone), Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), Sonny Troupé (drums), Pierre-François Blanchard (piano)
Harmonia Mundi HMM 902343 58:47 mins
The Invisible Stream of the title is what jazz saxophonist and composer Raphaël Imbert calls the ‘unseen current’ between peoples, cultures, musical traditions and not least, as here demonstrated, those who improvise. And there is much slick improvisation in this line up of unequal parts jazz and classical, ranging compositions by Imbert alongside his own arrangements of Wagner, Schubert, Eisler and Ornette Coleman. It is an atmospheric and often beguiling mix, opening with Imbert’s own bittersweet Akim’s Spirit, and improvising from there on in pursuit of this ‘invisible stream’.
Wagner’s ‘O du, mein holder Abendstern’ is touchingly played on Queyras’s ever-expressive cello, Blanchard shimmering beneath on piano, the whole segueing into a tender jazz resetting of Schubert’s An Die Musik working up into a major jazz ballad that in the telling is much less improbable than it might sound. Elsewhere the spare, quiet opening of Imbert’s Musique aux Images is gradually underpinned and driven by Troupé’s gathering drum march. Ornette Coleman’s Beauty is a Rare Thing precedes it, a rarer more angular kind of sparsity, whilst Imbert’s So Long, Radio Voice is all easy informality.
The conversations that Imbert and his fellow musicians start are engagingly carried through, the diverse influences merging and meandering, although the current for me only really starts flowing persuasively from the Wagner, as Queyras’s intimate cello segues into Blanchard’s poised piano.
Sarah Urwin Jones