The concept is somewhat simple and based largely in part on Carlos Castaneda, anthropologist and author of the book The Art of Dreaming which covered ancient Toltec sorcerers and their development of staying aware while dreaming. Their effort was an attempt to travel parallel worlds and have a better understanding of human potential. Schwarz-Bart saw a familiarity with the musicians quest except the musicians manage to dream while awake and while sharing these experiences with their band mates and audiences.
The conceptual idea was a stroke of genius for the French saxophonist and with no tunes going well past mid tempo, Schwarz-Bart conveys a deceptively subtle ambient dream induced sound with his Ben Webster like airy tone and the lyrical development within each tune or perhaps sonic dream. The chemistry if not euphoric feeling that a tight working band gets when they find their groove or that lost synchronicity of lyrical motion that groups such as this strive for is the predominant theme with this magnificent release. The incredibly chemistry of this quartet takes a post modern look at jazz in an incredibly organic fashion that I have not heard anywhere else or at least in this most unique presentation.
"Blues Jonjon" opens with a infectious groove and keen sense of lyrical purpose amidst shifting meter. Intimate and warm and the blues infused solo from pianist Baptiste Trotignon solo begins to launch a sonic exploratory as though the end of a busy day and the start of a mind racing dream state. You know where you are it, you dig it and while you know you are awake you aren't ready to wake up. A 4tet that transcends the conceptual into a personal journey of discovery. "Moods" is a more introspective tune, slightly melancholy but with a syncopated rhythm of a dynamic tension while intricate in nature never strips the musical gears of the listener but instead is a tune of mystery much like the dream you know you had but somehow can't remember. "Moods" is a three dimensional sonic depth of field to get happily lost in. Bassist Thomas Bramerie guides us on a lyrical journey along with the finesse of drummer Hans Van Oosterhout. "Emile" has a smoldering percussive undercurrent to the lyrical genius of Schwarz-Bart. Layers of textured flavor envelope a simple melody for a zen like less is more treatment of sonic flavor.
As a listener one can take The Art of Dreaming at face value as that of a most formidable 4tet whose incredible resume collectively includes gigs with Roy Hargrove, Manu Katche, Jean-Michel Pilc, and Gary Burton. Having been a tenor player half my life I decided to "be the ball" and free my imagination to see where the conceptual road might take me. In short, either sonic path one decides to take this is one of the finest releases for 2012.
Jacques Schwarz-Bart takes a conceptual idea and without an ounce of self indulgence turns in a flawless release for 2012. One of the most redeeming qualities of this release is that the 4tet as a group shares an equal sonic footing while supporting the lyrical chops of Schwarz-Bart which are simply off the charts.
The perfect release...
From You Tube
Tracks: Blues Jonjon; It's Pain; Peytol; Moods; Now; Lullaby From Atlantis; Massassoit; Dlo Pann; Emile; Voir.
Personnel: Jacques Schwarz-Bart: tenor saxophone; Baptiste Trotignon: acoustic piano; Thomas Bramerie: acoustic bass; Hans Van Oosterhout: drums.
Special Thanks To Michael Bloom of Michael Bloom Media Relations.