Julien Lourau - Quartet Saigon (4 stars)

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Julien Lourau - Quartet Saigon

(Naive)

French saxophonist Julian Lourau’s band, and this album, both take their name from the fact that the first gig with this particular line-up took place in Saigon in 2007, rather than from any more intrinsic Vietnamese connection. The Marseilles-based saxophonist has been playing with pianist Laurent Coq for a couple of decades, and their playing and compositional styles provide both coherence and a subtle degree of contrast at the core of the band’s music.

A strong line-up is completed by two players from the New York scene, bassist Thomas Bramerie and drummer Otis Brown III. The album closes with a respectful cover of the Bacharach-David tune ‘A House Is Not A Home’. The other ten compositions are divided equally between Lourau and Coq. The saxophonist has done a lot of work in more groove-based crossover contexts, but this is a fine set of hard-edged, straight(ish) jazz with a distinctly lyrical feel on the gentler material.

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