A propos du disque
Jazz is a type of popular music.
Le Gros Cube by Alban Darch is good news for jazz. Good news for the history of French jazz. Put like that, obviously, it seems an exaggeration. But let’s get one thing straight: Le Gros Cube by Alban Darche doesn’t pretend to change the history of jazz. It is a landmark. The music played for Le Gros Cube quite simply could not have been written or played before now.
Alban Darche is under thirty years old. Most of his fellow musicians are of the same age. They were trained and played – and still play – with the great movers and shakers of “classical” jazz. Musicians like Bruno Chevillon, Daniel Humair, Marc Ducret, Steve Coleman, Tim Berne, Claude Barthélémy... They came after this generation of musicians who, to dethrone idols, sometimes radicalised their music. Everything that might bear the slightest resemblance to the terrible relationship of jazz with American dance music has been cut out. The operation was successful: it gave rise to a freedom and a creativity rarely achieved until then. It also had the side-effect of “intellectualising” jazz, making it complex, and finally distancing it from the larger public.
Alban Darche and the musicians of Le Gros Cube come after that generation. They have no statues to unseat, no idols to burn. And between them they have so many conservatoire prizes that they no longer need to add any more to prove their mastery in theory and technique. They have won the right to play what they love. They are among those groups that follow their elders’ committed research.
At the same time, when they feel like rediscovering the simple joy of a “big band” that swings and roars with style, they throw themselves right in without reservation. That’s what Le Gros Cube is: pleasure to the first degree. A shared pleasure. On the stage with the musicians. In the hall, with the public, all publics. Casual listeners will find here all that brings a smile to the lips when listening to the big bands of American jazz. At the same time, “informed” lovers of jazz will be impressed by the richness of the orchestrations, the perfection of the ensemble sound, and keen creativity of the soloists.
And if, in touching at once the lowbrow and specialists, Le Gros Cube were to rediscover the very essence of jazz? And if, finally, jazz had no other justification than to be popular music played by learned musicians?