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Marc Ducret - Tower-Bridge

Greg Edwards, Gapplegate Guitar & Bass

Jazz guitarist-avant composer Marc Ducret has never been an artist to be taken for granted. His music and ensembles are filled with twists and turns, the unexpected and the worthy. His guitar work is very electric at times and always personal. Given all that, one never knows what is next. But I must admit the scope and intensity of his work with a 12-member band on Tower-Bridge (Ayler 139-140 2-CD) surprised me.

It is surely his most ambitious work to date. The entire double CD set was recorded live with a series of six Ducret compositions that deftly combine freedom and preset compositional form, structure and spontaneous heat.

The band is a well-chosen one. They play the music with in-the-moment ingenuity and drive. In the process they respond well to solo and collective improv opportunities. There are two drummers (Bruun and Rainey) and a percussionist (Lemetre), Antonin Rayon on piano, three trombones (Fourneyron, Mahler, Persigan), Tim Berne on alto sax, Fred Gastard on bass sax, Kasper Tranberg on trumpet, Dominique Pifarely on violin and of course Marc on electric guitar. Very good, excellent players, all. Combined they make for a stunning sonance.

The compositions have linear and cyclical aspects, make full use of the sonic spectrum of the instruments, have complex lines at times and generally make full use of forward time versus suspended time, of open freedom collectively and rock drive.

Beyond this, it comes across as ultra-convincing large ensemble avant jazz for today. There is a good amount of Marc Ducret's special guitar work, but this predominately comes across as a group effort, a triumph of large ensemble modernism.

It is not to be missed, if you are serious about keeping up with what's happening today. This is.