French composer-pianist-percussionist Paul Wacrenier has expanded his jazz piano studies with studies of ancient and modern and percussion instruments – the Zimbabwean Shona tradition of playing the m’bira and the kalimba and the Western vibes. The Healing Orchestra, an extension of his Healing Unit quintet, is only one of Wacrenier working groups. He collaborated recently Danish player Sven Dan Meinild with their Living Things ensemble that produced last year the debut album «Upwind Circles» on Barefoot Records.
Wacrenier extensive knowledge of the jazz legacy as well as of African ancient musical tradition enables him to suggest a highly personal language that moves freely between the compositional ideas and improvising strategies of Charles Mingus Ensembles or the Art Ensemble of Chicago, pianists like Randy Weston and Abdullah Ibrahim and the orchestral works of double bass and guimbri player William Parker. The debut album of the Healing Orchestra, recorded live throughout 2015, replicate the dreams and shouts, fury and mystery that can be found in ages-old African music and in Afro-American forward-thinking, politically-motivated jazz of recent decades.
The Healing Orchestra is a tentet that sounds as an energetic collective that plays with great passion and sense of urgency, already reaffirming its message on the opening piece, «Made of Sound of Joy». The following, three-parts suite «Three Grounds for Being» sketches the Orchestra broad palette of colors and moods. Its lyrical tone enables the brass, reeds and rhythm section to suggest a kind of a mysterious-timeless ritual and to form the organic basis for the Orchestra inclusive vocabulary. The following «Impatience», with its lengthy duo introduction of bass player Yoram Rosilio and drummer Benoist Raffin, cements the Mingus-ian seminal influence. This piece builds patiently its powerful, swinging momentum until the whole Orchestra bursts with full energy.
The next suite «Jazz Is Empowerment» begins with a poetic, contemplative mode, reflecting on the jazz legacy in the introduction of «The Great Black Cats Say». Soon it distills the ancestors knowledge and wisdom into an uplifting, urgent celebration, later revisiting the swinging blues roots on «Blues is for Tomorrow» and concluding with a burning reprise of the opening «Made of Sound of Joy». This impressive journey ends with the beautiful and peaceful melody «Living Things», played by the flutists duo of Fanny Ménégoz and Sylvaine Hélary.
Xavier Bornens (tp, mellophone), Léo Jeannet (tp), Arnaud Sacase (as, bcl), Jon Vicuña (bs), Jean-François Petitjean (ts), Paul Wacrenier (p, vib, kalimba), Yoram Rosilio (b), Mauro Basilio (c), Benoist Raffin (dr), Sven Clerx (perc), Fanny Ménégoz (fl), Sylvaine Hélary (fl)