Michaël Attias: Quartet Music Vol. I – LuMiSong

New York altoist variously reminds of M-Base and Eric Dolphy in a set of originals mixing modalism and abstraction

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One of the least appreciated aspects of Miles Davis’s legacy is perhaps his embrace of the studio edit, splicing together multiple takes in a quest for something more perfect. Those who believe that jazz should always be forged “in the moment” may demur, but on the two contrasting volumes of Quartet Music New York-based saxophonist Michaël Attias aims to show that “raw” first takes and intensive post-production can be equally effective in their own very different ways.

This quartet first came together in July 2020 during a brief window of opportunity during the pandemic, waiting almost 12 months before finally playing again at a live-stream from a small Brooklyn venue. A trip to the studio the following day resulted in nine tracks, four of which were reshaped in what Attias describes as a near obsessive 12-month process of overdubbing and post-production before being released as LuMiSong.

Buoyed by Pavolka and Ferber’s tight post-M-Base groove, the theme of the opening #63 (Settled) is pirouettes gracefully above Liebson’s soothing Wurlitzer before Attias launches into a well-paced but climactic solo. The staccato intro to Mister Softee Is A Front feels like a 21st century take on Dolphy, though it eventually opens out into a multi-sectioned piece featuring a string of fully committed solos (Liebson is particularly strong). NME opens with two superimposed takes of a piano/bass duet before expanding into a North African-tinged groove piece, while the closing Hexway Liner is built on yet another unusual metric structure, and it features a rapier-sharp cello overdub from label-mate Christopher Hoffman.

Striking the perfect balance between fiery spontaneity and studio refinement, LuMiSong is a perfect appetiser for Kardamon Fall, the “warts and all” live recording scheduled for release in the second half of the year.

Discography
#63 (Settled); Mister Softee Is A Front; NME; Hexway Liner (29.36)
Attias (as) with Santiago Liebson (p, kyb); Matt Pavolka (b); Mark Ferber (d); Christopher Hoffman (clo) on track 4. New York, 12 June 2021.
Out Of Your Heads Records OOYH 025