Oeuf Big Band: Astro-Symphonie

Jazz orchestra from eastern France takes inspiration from cosmology to produce high-quality, US-style contemporary big-band music

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Now established for over 20 years, this impressive large French ensemble offers up music inspired by things astronomical, all composed and arranged by resident brass-man Pierre Baldy-Moulinier.

As the introductions unfold, we get full-bodied dramatic blasts from the ensemble, immediately making the listener aware of the power it can generate, even if some of those percussive effects belong to the “Mickey Mouse” bands of yesteryear.

When we get to the music proper, the alto saxophone of Boris Pokora takes over on the pacey Le Big Bang (Part 1), delivering a searing solo accompanied only by bass and drums, whereas Part 2 carries a comfortable lilt, after the opening of arco bass over rattling percussion.

Many of the compositions come in sections or passages which are then replaced post-haste, leading to arrested flow, but of course many might like this constant adjustment. For instance, the brief free for all a third of the way into Origine Des Elements certainly comes as a surprise, as does the rocky feel which takes over the Latinesque Ondes Gravitationnelles.

There are plenty of contrasts in moods and approaches in Baldy-Moulinier’s charts as he seeks to extract the most out of the resources available to him, equally manifest in the section work and ensemble passages, not to mention the fine soloists.

This release could easily pass under the radar but will be enjoyed by those with a liking for contemporary big bands.

Discography
Introduction Part 1; Introduction Part 2; Le Big Bang, Part 1; Le Big Bang, Part 2; Les Galaxies; Origine Des Elements; Ondes Gravitationnelles; Systemes En Resonance; Formation D’Etoile; Conclusion (75.39)
Christophe Metra, Guillaume Pluton, Herve Salamone, Vincent Stephan (t, bugle); Loic Bachevillier, Olivier Destephany (tb, eu); Eric Prost (ts); Pierre Baldy-Moulinier (tb, eu, bugle, f); Jean Crozat (btb, eu); Antoine Bost (ts, ss); Herve Francony (as, cl, f); Boris Pokora (as, cl, ss, f); Sylvain Felix (bar, bcl); Vincent Ollier (tu); Bruno Simon (g); David Bressat (p, kyb); Basile Mouton (b); Herve Humbert (d); Fabien Rodriguez (pc). Villefranche-sur-Saône, 13 & 17 February 2023.
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