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August 2008

Moutin Reunion Quartet
Sharp Turns
Plus Loin

Twin brothers François and Louis Moutin lead a supple, absorbing and powerful band, sweeping through this CD/DVD dual-disc like a river as they show off the two great advantages of their excellent ensemble. First, the Moutins make a dynamite rhythm section. François’ bass work is tireless and almost impossibly elastic, bending and thumping against Louis’ equally energetic drumming. The brothers strip their interplay bare on the duet “Trane’s Medley,” weaving strands of John Coltrane tunes through wide swaths of crackling improvisation. Louis’ bongo-like hand drumming gives the tune an old-school hipster vibe as François struts and jerks through playful melodies.

But beyond that rhythmic core, the Moutin quartet is a working band with—rarity of rarities—an immediately identifiable sound: an oblique thrust full of churning riffs, unsettled harmonies and a friendly yet insistent attitude. “Two Hits on the N.J.T.P.” is a prime example, starting from a wide-striding melody, then seesawing between locomotive riffs and spinning solos from saxophonist Rick Margitza and pianist Pierre de Bethmann.

Like many bands, this is a group best experienced live. So it’s a treat to find an additional 90 minutes of performance video on the flip side of the disc. With more energy, space and daring than the studio material, the concert exposes the band’s intensely kinetic interplay, a constant, restless swirl of nodding heads, flopping limbs and bobbing bodies. Together with the studio set, this music satisfies on all levels.

Originally published in August 2008
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