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Marc Ducret - Tower, vol.1

Robert Iannapollo, Cadence Magazine

French guitarist Marc Ducret made a name for himself in the States for being saxophonist Tim Berne’s guitarist of preference. But he also has had successful alliances with many other American (pianist Angelica Sanchez, drummer Bobby Previte) and European (French clarinetist Louis Sclavis, Danish drummer Stefan Pasborg) musicians. Plus he has released 12 discs under his own name, including two solo discs.

Ducret’s latest, Tower, vol.1, puts together a Franco (Ducret, bass saxophonist Gastard, and trombonist Mahler)/Danish (trumpeter Tranberg and drummer Bruun) quintet. Tower is a lengthy composition (of which this is the first part), inspired by Nabakov’s novel Ada. Quite how this recording relates to the book is unclear. There are no liner notes and there is no mention of the book on the album cover.

But all of that aside, this is an amazing record consisting of two lengthy movements plus a third (somewhat lengthy) interlude. One thing Ducret seems to have learned from Berne is that if you’re going to have a lengthy composition (i.e., the nearly 22-minute “Real Thing Pt. 1”) it better be interesting throughout. The two “Real Things” play like lengthy suites, changing tack for each soloist, shifting tempos, unique thematic passages occurring throughout. Consequently, there’s not a period of dead space throughout the program.

The group sound is just as unique. The lineup of trumpet, trombone, and bass saxophone allows for some unique voicings. Trumpeter Tranberg (a member of Pierre Dorge’s New Jungle Orchestra) is particularly impressive with his mute work, especially on the interlude. Bass saxophonist Gastard gets quite a workout and is perhaps the most limber musician I’ve ever heard on the instrument. He functions not only as the low-end voice but his solo work is quite impressive as well.

At least two more installments are promised in this piece. It’s something to look forward to, especially if this combination of musicians is retained.