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Marc Ducret - Tower, vol.1

Ken Waxman, The New York City Jazz Record

Best-known for an association with New York saxophonist Tim Berne that goes back to the ‘90s, Parisian guitarist Marc Ducret proves with this quintet CD that sharp, spiky jazz-rock improv can still be created. But the reason Tower Vol. 1 is of such high quality is that the self-taught guitarist knows how to tweak the style so that its intellectual as well as rhythmic qualities are emphasized.

Ducret, who has been a professional playing in a variety of contexts since he was 17, surrounds himself with a unique French-Danish lineup that’s similarly versatile. There’s no double bass here, its function taken by the blaring pedal point of Fred Gastard’s bass saxophone. The work of trumpeter Kasper Tranberg and trombonist Matthias Mahler showcases distinctive plunger solos as well as more expected stacked horn riffs. Furthermore, just as the guitarist can pump out kinetic rock-oriented licks when he wishes, so drummer Peter Bruun emphasizes the beat, but his rim shots and rebounds can be irrefutably refined as well.

Distinctively “Interlude: L’Ombra di Verdi” doesn’t reference so-called classical music so much as West Coast jazz of the ‘50s. The textures are carefully voiced so that everyone is clearly heard even when playing in unison. Despite a mid-section interlocking pulse closer to rock than jazz, Ducret’s slurred fingering mated with Tranberg muted trumpet ends the piece with taut, staccato lines more atmospheric than brutal.

Similarly, the two “Real Thing” tracks encompass everything from muscular backbeats to jocular nearcabaret style vamps, plus polyphonic horn honks and squeals. Ducret’s undulating fills and multi-fingered string snaps impress throughout, especially in “Real Thing #2”, which is concurrently speedy and nuanced. The stop-time treatment finds the guitarist’s flanges thickly matching both bass sax snorts and trumpet triplets before the three players together relax into a multi-layered finale.

More Tower sessions featuring Ducret in different settings are promised in the near future. Hopefully they’ll be as noteworthy as this outing.