By John Murph | Published April 2020
“D.N.A,” the third track on Grégory Privat’s alluring Soley, exemplifies the continual creolization of jazz from sonic, cultural and idiomatic perspectives.
Privat begins the song on acoustic piano with a plaintive, circular melodic figure, with bassist Chris Jennings joining in unison. Soon after, drummer Tilo Bertholo adds color with sparse ride-cymbal work. The tune unfolds in a cinematic manner, especially when Privat’s right hand moves to the electric keys, unraveling a soulful improvisation. After the song shifts into a free-form section, Privat incorporates snippets of a women’s voice reading the percentage breakdown of his DNA, tracing the composer’s lineage to Nigeria, Sierra Leone, North Africa, Central America, and Western and Northern Europe.
The bandleader and his drummer hail from Martinique, and his bassist is from Canada. And under Privat’s leadership, they create modern jazz, imbued with Antillean references, especially the hypnotic bounce of “Le Pardon” and the fleet-footed “Transfiguration,” without being too moored to them. Privat opts for oblique, yet melodically lingering, passages that sometimes glide across the rhythmic pulse, but mostly interact feistily with the rhythm section. On occasion, the bandleader will complement his assured pianism with glints of electronica and singing, recalling the work of bassist Richard Bona.
Even absent any grand gestures, Soley is a sleeper of 21st-century cosmopolitan jazz with substantial transportive beauty that seduces with each listen.
Soley: Intro; Las; D.N.A.; Fredo; Prelude; Le Pardon; Soley; Outro; Interlude; Sergueï; Seducing The Rain; Exode; Manmay; Transfiguration; Waltz For M.P. (68:17)
Personnel: Grégory Privat, piano, Nord Stage 2, vocals; Chris Jennings, bass; Tilo Bertholo, drums, SPD-5.