French trumpeter Erik Truffaz sounds suspiciously like Star Trek’s man-machine Borgs when he talks of the confluence of humanity and technology. “The connection between machines and human beings is definitely one of the 21st century’s most important challenges. When there is a real fusion, then the machine becomes human.”
Truffaz’s American debut, The Mask—sort of In a Silent Way for the drum ’n’ bass generation—is a beautiful combination of organic instrumentation and electronica-inspired grooves that collects tracks from his three French Blue Note CDs. “We take our inspiration from the beats of the machines, but we play the music acoustically. And what we like in this approach, is the flexibility which allows us to grow like a jazz band.”
Truffaz and his quartet—keyboardist Patrick Muller, bassist Marcello Giuliani and drummer Marc Erbetta—were influenced by drum ’n’ bass and trip-hop artists like Photek, Goldie and Massive Attack when the group spent a three-year residency at London’s Blue Note club.
“Our drummer worked a lot on the loops of drum ’n’ bass that those artists were playing. [But I first] began to play on those drum ’n’ bass beats when I was part of my bassist’s trio—bass, sample, trumpet—and [Giuliani] is the one who is mainly responsible for the direction that we took up to this day.”
Miles Davis also had something to do with the Truffaz Quartet’s directions in music. “There are cuts on [Davis’] Live/Evil where you can really feel the first rhythms of drum ’n’ bass. There is such a musical richness in all electric Miles, that you can't do without this enormous and wide influence.”
Despite being a jazz technohead, Truffaz says humans still make the most compelling music. “The challenge is always the same: you have to do the best music possible with the most possible emotion, and it may happen that [acoustic] instruments bring a more organic side to the machine when there is a real dialog with the machine.”
Queen Borg would dig The Mask.