Bending New Corners
Bukowsky Chapter 1
Down Town
Friendly Fire
Less [Remix by Pierre Audetat]
Mare Mosso
Scody, Pt. 2
Seven Skies
Siegfried [Remix by Goo]
The Dawn
The Mask
The Point
The Walk of the Giant Turtle
Up Town

Erik Truffaz

Erik Truffaz

In the next step of his evolution as a pioneering jazz figure, French trumpeter Erik Truffaz continues his exploration of modern dance rhythms informed by drum 'n' bass and hip hop as well as gripping rock 'n' roll with his quartet on The Walk of the Giant Turtle. This CD is Truffaz's fourth U.S. release, following up last year's remarkable Mantis, and featuring a video on the making of the album. Joining Truffaz on the new disc are his long-time quartet, Patrick Muller on piano and electronic keyboards, Marcello Giuliani on bass and Marc Erbetta on drums.

In a European interview Truffaz said that The Walk of the Giant Turtle (recorded in Lausanne in January 2003 and mixed in Paris) was based on ensemble improvisation. He remarked that the music "is not too cerebral." He explained that the rock-fueled passion and power on three tracks (the heavy rocking, abrasive King B, the wah-wah-driven Next Door and the crunching/cooking Seven Skies) came from two sources. First, Giuliani is the guitarist in a rock group named Aquarius. Secondly, Truffaz said that he came of age as a rock fan: "I listened to Led Zeppelin much more than Miles Davis [when I was younger]." The tunes teem with pockets of tension/release, rich sound textures, distortion and even Hendrixian guitar-like exchanges. Throughout, Truffaz soars above the combustible mix.

The Walk of the Giant Turtle features Truffaz and company delivering fluid groove tunes like the lead-off Scody (Part 1) and Scody (Part 2). Also in the mix are lyrical beauties such as the slow-and-stretched Turiddu with seductive bass line and Rhodes atmosphere, the coolly alluring Belle De Nuit, and the captivating title tune that is at once delicate and spiritual with a gently sketched trumpet melody and Ravel-like piano counterpoint.

Born in 1960, Truffaz was inspired to play music by his saxophonist father who led a dance band. He took up the trumpet as a youngster and joined his father on the bandstand. As his technique grew, Truffaz linked up with other bands before being introduced to Miles Davis' classic Kind of Blue album. This led him to study music at the Geneva Conservatoire in Switzerland where he learned to perform classical works by the likes of Mozart and Verdi. In addition to playing in the Orchestre de Suisse Romande, Truffaz played in cover bands while also writing his own jazz-infused music. In 1990 he formed a jazz band called Orange and the following year won France's prestigious jazz award, the Prix Special. As a leader of his self-named group, Truffaz recorded his first album Nina Valeria and appeared on stages throughout Europe, including the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Since the mid-'90s, Truffaz has been a mover-and-shaker on the European creative improvisational scene. He signed with EMI France in 1996 and recorded three dynamic electro-acoustic recordings, Out of a Dream, The Dawn and Bending New Corners. He was introduced to North American audiences in 2000 with the CD The Mask, a compilation of his three EMI France albums that was followed by Revisite, a DJ-dance remix album of The Mask. The forward-sounding Mantis was released in 2002.

The trumpeter has been likened to Miles Davis (from his In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew days), though Rolling Stone critic David Fricke writes, "Truffaz plays less like Miles than a jazz-rock [Brian] Eno, making rapturous atmospheres from a minimum of notes." In Fricke's review of Revisite, he concluded that the remixes "affirm the depth and durability of Truffaz's fusion: a jazz with brawn, soul and plenty of wide open space."

Mantis, which featured guitarist Manu Codjia and guests Anouar Brahem on oud and Mounir Troudi on vocals, scored big points with open-eared jazz critics. Eugene Holley, Jr. commented on "Truffaz and company create a compelling sound collage that dances and trances." Bill Milkowski, writing in JazzTimes, heralded Truffaz's music as "nastier than smooth jazz and naughtier than straightahead." He added: "This is intelligent, uncompromising music happening in the now, played by musicians with serious chops, fertile imaginations and the courage of their convictions."

Talking to URB magazine, Truffaz explained that he continues to grow as a musician, taking lessons from the jazz and pop past and looking ahead to create new music. He said, "I'm not trying to be this or that. I just try to be myself, taking inspiration from the things I love." On The Walk of the Giant Turtle, the trumpeter does just that: create a meld of jazz, pop and rock music that is dance-floor hip, rock-house blazing and new-jazz cool.

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