Bruno Tocanne

In a Suggestive Way
IMR 007

Unhurried and low-key, French drummer Bruno Tocanne has put together a salute to the late American drummer Paul Motian (1931-2011) in the most appropriate fashion possible – he and members of his quartet recorded a collection of their own compositions.

Simultaneously involved with a variety of projects with associates ranging from French pianist Sophie Domancich to Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser, Tocanne assembled an international cast for this session. French trumpeter Rémi Gaudillat and Canadian reedist Quinsin Nachoff have collaborated with the drummer on earlier projects, while American pianist Russ Lossing, who worked with Motian, is on hand for this occasion. It’s the pianist’s presence which allows the quartet to approximate both Motian’s piano-centred dates as well as his sparser projects built around horns. Throughout, Tocanne, whose own tunes here are co-written with others or literal instant compositions, remains very much in the background, spurring on and smoothing down the others’ work, but never demanding undue attention

“Canto 1”, for instance, composed by the pianist, has a theme that eventually turns onto itself cushioned by contralto horn lines. Lossing’s tremolo soundboard echoes accelerate the exposition with spacey chording until Tocanne’s rim shot signal an impressionistic ending made up of trumpet flutter tonguing and piano string scrapes. Meanwhile Nachoff’s “Kumo To Mine” is a carefully paced ballad, reminiscent of pianist Bill Evans’ work with Motian. Heavy on Lossing’s expressive chording and the composer’s own impressionistic vibrations, the moderato narrative flows chromatically and cautiously to the end.

Taking an opposite approach, Gaudillat’s “One P.M.” is all kinetic and dynamic with the drummer’s clatters, jumps and pops setting the pace for speedy note substitution and key- clipping line expansions from Lossing, plus twanging internal strings as the horns chug along in march tempo. These inner slides and plucks give way to melodic theme variation to complement the composer’s upwardly angled slurs and Nachoff’s mid-range trills. Even on “Voyage(s)”, a trio outing for trumpet, piano and drums, the balance is between percussiveness and politeness. Momentous keyboard glissandi and slamming cymbals brush up against bugle-like cries from Gaudillat. Eventually though the complexity of the brass solo provides the necessary musical sophistication needed to cunningly and satisfyingly shape the piece.

Low key and ethereal, but without the chillness and fussiness sometimes present in Motian’s later work, In a Suggestive Way is an appropriate memorial to the drummer. However with every tune so well-shaped and carefully completed without loose ends, the risk-taking near sloppiness in some of Tocanne’s other projects is missing. And it’s this lack which prevents the CD moving from merely pleasing salute to high caliber intensity.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Bruno Rubato 2. NYC to NJ 3. Canto 1 4. Ornette And Don 5. Kumo To Mine 6. One P.M. 7. A Suggestive Way 8. Firely 9. Voyage(s) 10. Whatever 11. Frémissement

Personnel: Rémi Gaudillat (trumpet); Quinsin Nachoff (tenor saxophone and clarinet); Russ Lossing (piano) and Bruno Tocanne (drums)