Obvious parallels exist between William Parker’s Raining on the Moon group with vocalist Leena Conquest and Darius Jones’ new album, which features French singer Emilie Lesbros. Hallmarks of both: accessible avant-garde jazz, lyrical compositions and a seamless integration of a sympathetic unit and a vocalist who uses her voice as another instrument in the ensemble. Heck, they’re even on the same label, AUM Fidelity.
Le bébé de Brigitte is the fifth installment in the alto saxophonist’s Man’ish Boy saga, and it is his most mature yet. It comprises six pieces-four of them exceeding eight minutes-that showcase a variety of styles and skills. The pastoral opener, “Two Worlds, One Soul,” ranks as Jones’ most patient composition, a billowy piece that takes 10 minutes to unfold and allows Lesbros to reveal herself gradually. “Chanteuse in Blue” swings with a folksy melody that Parker himself could have written. Lesbros sings, talks, chirps, brays and makes other animal sounds as the rhythm section-pianist Matt Mitchell, bassist Sean Conly and drummer Ches Smith-gets into a deeper and deeper groove.