Eric Truffaz, Ronnie Scott’s, London – review

When the French-Swiss trumpeter released his second Blue Note album New Dawn in 1998, his mix of moody trumpet and club-friendly beats was fresh, accessible and on trend. His latest same-label release El Tiempo de la Revolucíon has high intentions – according to Truffaz, the CD “expresses the successive revolutions through which our lives are chronicled”. But in practice the album sticks closely to the well-established script of the leader’s trumpet bopping and brooding over rarely swerving rhythms. Hardly groundbreaking, but nicely done and, as presented at this full-house album-launch gig, still effective.

The first set opened with the tom-tom pulse and keyboard swirls of the new album’s title track. Upbeat mood established, Truffaz entered lower register, his sustained notes submerged in a dense layer of synthesised organ and crunchy, fuzz-toned electronica – keyboardist Benoît Corboz’s array of pedals and wires looked like a miniaturised industrial complex.

Gradually, Truffaz changed pitch, Corboz changed key and the gathering sense of triumph was confirmed by a final major-key resolution. “Istanbul Tango” followed – a funky rocker this – and then the lilting atmospherics of “African Mist”. Drummer Marc Erbetta kept it straight and filled discreetly, and bassist Marcello Giuliani was a sturdy linchpin of retro-riffs who wisely avoided anything fancy.

With bass and drums set, the focus was firmly on Truffaz and the shifting kaleidoscope of powerful keyboard rhythms and synthesised layered textures that accompanied him. Winsome lines sat on light organ stabs, gritty rhythmic Rhodes powered tense modern jazz and moody, muted trumpet came with the warm cadences of the club’s solo grand.

Both sets dipped into the Truffaz back-catalogue and gave others a chance to shine. Drummer Erbetta was a master of the microphone, and his cartoon-voiced mumbles and sampled bleeps, delivered deadpan, were a crowd-raising comic turn. And the spliced rhythms of “Revolution of Time” changed mood and tempo at the drop of a hat.

Perhaps unwisely, the evening’s tail featured three Anna Aaron vocals. Her rough-toned, folky voice and uninspired timing seemed out of context. A flurry of funk on “The Drain Out” came to the rescue, and a light-grooved encore restored balance.

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