Henri Texier: An Indian’s Life

The French bassist links the oppression of native Americans and African Americans, mixing tribal, funk, blues and swing flavours

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At this point in his career Henri Texier (b. 1945) can be forgiven the occasional glance in the rear-view mirror. An early European adopter of Coleman and Cherry’s free-jazz revolution, Texier has been recording as a leader for over 50 years. Since the 80s many of those recordings have been on Michel Crier’s Label Bleu, and his trio with Louis Sclavis and Aldo Romano remains one of the label’s greatest assets.

His lifelong interest in native American culture became intertwined with music when he discovered jazz in the 60s, joining the dots between the Native American genocide and the oppression of the African-American people. An Indian’s Life is thematically linked to both An Indian’s Week (1993) and Sky Dancers (2016), but the bassist also finds time to pay tribute to some of the great musician friends he has known and lost.

His somewhat expanded ensemble (piano-less, of course) includes son Sebastien and Sylvain Rifflet on saxophones, trumpeter Carlo Nerdozza and the ever-dependable Manu Codjia. All of the pieces are Texier originals save for the guitarist’s arrangement of Fats Waller’s Black And Blue, which features a cameo by vocalist Himiko Paganotti.

Codjia is first out of the blocks on the evocative Apache Woman, its tribal beat breaking into swing-time as the horns trade licks. Black Indian is an earthy blues, steeped in African-American culture, while Mingus Love Call and the Cherry-like Hopi Hippie bring some of the edgiest moments. The funky No Fear Song (for Jason Pinto) grooves to a rock-solid beat, and the light and wistful Steve And Carla pays homage to the recently departed Steve Swallow, with whom Texier recorded several times.

A characteristically strong piece of work by one of the greats of European jazz: Texier is clearly enjoying his own Indian summer.


Discography
Apache Woman; Black Indian; Miss Canthus; Black And Blue; Mingus Love Call; No Fear Song; Hopi Hippie; Steve And Carla (56.49)
Texier (b) with Sebastien Texier (as, cl); Sylvain Rifflet (ts, cl); Carlo Nardozza (t); Manu Codjia (elg); Gautier Garrigue (d); Himiko Paganotti (v). Amiens, France, June 2023.
Label Bleu LBLC6748