Eretz – Jérémy Dumont 5tet – The New York City Jazz Record

Brussels has lately become the crossroads of European jazz, with various jazz venues and three highly regarded jazz magazines. Besides a distinguished legacy of world-class musicians, the region has been able to attract artists from all over continental Europe on top of a well-qualified cadre of U.S. expatriates and frequent visitors. Many of these musicians, like pianist Jérémy Dumont, are the product of Europe’s best conservatories and the mushrooming number of jazz schools following the celebrated Berklee College of Music model. Others have been attracted by the lively and stimulating ambiance, finding a natural place to mingle with musicians of different extractions and traditions in a multicultural environment. This CD, the first by Dumont’s quintet, fits squarely in this tradition: five musicians representing four countries, the U.S. included. The music belongs to a sort of postbop mainstream, with seven originals and two perennial standards. The result is a pleasant, tasteful and swinging session based on simple yet captivating compositions that leverage Dumont’s penchant for Middle Eastern melodies. The structure of the tunes may appear rather conventional at first listen—exposition of the theme in unison, solos and return to the main theme. But repeated listens reveal subtle variations to the overarching scheme, enriching the music. The quintet is well integrated, with Godwin Louis’ exuberant alto saxophone taking the proverbial lion’s share along with fleet piano and Jean-Paul Estiévenart’s wellrounded trumpet. Louis condenses in his sound and phrasing a whole tradition of alto players, including echoes of Johnny Hodges, in Jimmy Van Heusen-Eddie DeLange’s “Darn That Dream”. Bassist Damien Varaillon and drummer Armando Luongo provide solid support throughout but regrettably do not have much solo space. Of note is “Eretz Tzion”, the most complex composition with its clear Middle Eastern influences and shifting development after a rhapsodic piano intro. “Through Your Eyes” and “Nieuwpoort Day” showcase Dumont’s rhythmic approach—he mentions Chick Corea among his influences—whereas the ballad “Aaron” delivers an emotional solo by Estiévenart. An extended live version of Walter Gross-Jack Lawrence’s “Tenderly” rounds out a nicely varied program.

Marco Cangiano
The New York City Jazz Record – July 2019