Young and Fine
The Basque guitarist Sylvain Luc is truly one of the great six-string virtuosos on the international jazz scene. Primarily an acoustic practitioner, he has performed telepathic duets with Gypsy guitar great Biréli Lagrène and with Cameroonian bass monster Richard Bona, and has also played in Billy Cobham’s String Quartet with French violinist Didier Lockwood and bassist Victor Bailey. Lesser known to American audiences is Trio Sud, his ongoing collaboration with the outstanding French rhythm tandem of Jean-Marc Jafet on bass and Andre Ceccarelli on drums. On this third outing by Trio Sud, the three remarkable musicians turn in delicate and inventive takes on jazz staples like Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Darn That Dream,” Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma” and Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes,” along with an alluring bossa-nova treatment of Stevie Wonder’s “Sweetest Somebody I Know,” which Ceccarelli underscores with hip, supple brushwork. Jafet reveals a strong Jaco Pastorius influence with his singing fretless electric bass work on his buoyant 5/4 composition “Song for My Twins” and also on his facile solo on “Darn That Dream.”
Ceccarelli, one of Europe’s most respected drummers over the past 30 years, is a reliably swinging presence throughout. And Luc is a marvel, whether he’s blowing fluid single-note lines, as on their 6/8 rendition of “Con Alma” or Luc’s burning “French Brother,” wailing with distortion-laced intensity, as on Ceccarelli’s aggressive fusion romp “Avenue Des Diables Bleus,” or investigating sophisticated chordal voicings with his deft fingerstyle approach on nylon-string acoustic guitar, as on the engaging “Sylvain Shadows” or “Darn That Dream.” Luc also takes a daring solo turn on “Imperfect Tune,” sounding a bit like Richard Leo Johnson on a detuned steel-string acoustic guitar. The title track, a faithful recreation of the ebullient “Young and Fine” from Weather Report’s Mr. Gone, is a heartfelt homage to the late great Joe Zawinul.