Reviews that mention Olivier Benoit

October 1, 2015

Festival Report

Météo
By Ken Waxman

Multi-media, theatricalism and electronics were the motifs that kept cropping up during the Météo Festival (August 25-29) in this Alsatian city known for its textile industry and unique German-French flair. There were also plenty of intense improvisations in its venues, confirming the continued strength of the 33-year-old festival.

Artistic mixing was most prominent during Météo’s opening concert in the Italianate 19th Century Théâtre de la Sinne as the French Surnatural Orchestra interacted with a screening of Italian director Dario D’Aregento’s 1975 slasher film Profondo Rosso. Unlike most music-with-cinema programs where live playing is subordinated to the visuals, this bloody over-the-top Hitchcock-Goddard-Fellini pastiche was frozen at various junctures for limber solos by a dancer, a speaker’s pseudo-pretentious film analysis, a scream from the stalls, cabaret style singing and a Second Line march through the audience. Still, no sonic moments stood out, and the exercise could be liked to someone decked out in full Carnaby Street fashion surmounting the outfit with a Viking helmet. MORE

February 11, 2015

Orchestre National de Jazz

Europa Paris
On Jazz Records 24444

Taking France’s prestigious Orchestre National de Jazz (ONJ) in a new direction, plus dealing with a complete change in personnel, is the ONJ’s new artistic director, composer and guitarist Olivier Benoit. Know for experimental small group work as well as writing for and sometimes playing as part of large ensembles such as La Pieuvre and Circum Grand Orchestra, Benoit is certainly no one to pursue a course of reinterpreting so-called Jazz classics. This sprawling six-part, two-CD magnum opus demonstrates this handily. Ambitious, Europa Paris is designed to paint a sonic portrait of the city of light via the solo and interactive skills of the 11-mmber ensemble. MORE

November 26, 2014

Sophie Agnel & Olivier Benoit

REPS
Césaré 14/02/15/1

Staccato string aerobics are the attraction here. That’s because French improvisers, pianist Sophie Agnel and guitarist Olivier Benoit rip through two mid-length tracks in order to reveal novel sonic underpinning rampant with smoldering stimulus. Now colleagues in the 11-piece, Paris-based Orchestre National de Jazz (ONJ), which Benoit also directs, the two also maintain this on-going duo to explore a miniature if no less incisive program than with the ONJ.

Agnel’s kinetically cast key pummeling and Benoit’s equally spiny string variations allow the duo to construct a highly original and shifting interface before the CD’s initial two minutes have passed. Soon afterwards, the pianist moves from her initial percussive and chiming sequences. Most frequently found in cooperative small group situations, Agnel’s textural variants, running the gamut from faux-romantic key chording to subdued rumbles from the soundboard centre the improvisations. Meantime Benoit, known equally for his incisive combo work as well his years with the Circum Grand Orchestra, picks out slack-key motifs as well as muddying the interface with potent tone reverb which creates what sounds like a jittery electro-magnetic field between the two instruments. “Reps 1” peaks with galloping key pressure alternating with ululating, amplified echoes of Benoit’s guitar distortion MORE

January 3, 2014

La Pieuvre & Circum Grand Orchestra

Feldspath
Circum Disc CID 1301

Never ones to eschew grand gestures such as the Eiffel Tower, De Gaulle’s force de frappe or the Cannes film festival, leave it to the French to come up with a program that combines the talents of two large orchestras of improvisers – 32 musicians in all. As notable for the gesture as well as the execution, the two lengthy compositions by guitarist Olivier Benoit played here, evolve by calling on textures advanced by the electric rock-oriented doubled rhythm section of Circum Grand Orchestra as well as the Jazz-oriented and Free Music impulses of La Pieuvre. MORE

January 22, 2009

Christopher Rocher Trio

Extenz’O
Marmouzic MAR 004

Staking out an original sound circuit where Free Improv meets Heavy Metal is this combo from the Loire area of France that could truthfully be described as a power trio that includes a clarinetist.

While the unexpected rhythmic base and technical sophistication of the performance ensures that Extenz’O avoids serious comparison with Rush, AC/DC or any metal variant, certainly the power and exuberance trio members bring to this CD would be the envy of any rock’n’roller.

At the same time communication advances such as the Internet allows one member of this close-knit trio – drummer Edward Perraud – to reside in Paris, while the other two are in Brest. Among many other projects he participates in, Perraud is a charter member of Hubbub. Meanwhile clarinetist Christopher Rocher and guitarist Olivier Benoit are leaders of different local formations plus organizers of regional festivals and improvisational meetings. Both members of the Circum orchestra, Rocher has also worked with saxophonists such as Assif Tsahar and Daunik Lazro plus l’Art Ensemble of Brest; while Benoit directs the 25-piece La Pieuvre orchestra and has played with, among others, Lazro, and Jean-Luc Guionnet, another member of Hubbub. MORE

December 28, 2007

The Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra with Barry Guy

Falkirk
FMR CD 168-i0706

La Pieuvre

Ellipse

Helix LX 002

Ever since American Butch Morris introduced the concept of using “conduction” to help improvising ensembles express musical ideas without formalistic structures, the model has been tested over the past two decades by a variety of ensembles in different parts of the world.

Although there are those who might question just how different “conduction” is from a Count Basie band head arrangement or a one of Charles Mingus’ scores that was transmitted orally to his sidemen, the theory appears to be helpful in allowing bands of 20 or so musicians to create notable semi-improvised/semi-composed structures. Falkirk and Ellipse provide two of the more impressive, recent examples of this trend, and also illustrate by their differences how nothing involved with Free Music is accepted dogma. MORE

December 28, 2007

La Pieuvre

Ellipse
Helix LX 002

The Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra with Barry Guy

Falkirk

FMR CD 168-i0706

Ever since American Butch Morris introduced the concept of using “conduction” to help improvising ensembles express musical ideas without formalistic structures, the model has been tested over the past two decades by a variety of ensembles in different parts of the world.

Although there are those who might question just how different “conduction” is from a Count Basie band head arrangement or a one of Charles Mingus’ scores that was transmitted orally to his sidemen, the theory appears to be helpful in allowing bands of 20 or so musicians to create notable semi-improvised/semi-composed structures. Falkirk and Ellipse provide two of the more impressive, recent examples of this trend, and also illustrate by their differences how nothing involved with Free Music is accepted dogma. MORE

April 12, 2004

DENMAN MARONEY

Fluxations
New World # 80607

SOPHIE AGNEL/OLIVIER BENOIT
Rip-stop
IN SITU IS 237

Orchestral and monochordal at different times, the piano is the cornerstone of Western music because of its versatility. But this versatility sometimes limits its adaptability to more experimental music.

Over the second half of the 20th century composers and pianists decided that one way to overcome the keyboard’s innate conventionality was to prepare the strings with different objects. These two CDs -- one American and one French -- show how these preparations can be used in the context of improvised music. Each is vastly different. American Denman Maroney’s quintet is strongly allied to jazz, whereas the Parisian duo of pianist Sophie Agnel and guitarist Olivier Benoit leans towards free music and electronics. MORE