French tenor saxophone player Hugues Mayot is known from his sideman roles with Olivier Benoit’s Orchestre National de Jazz (ONJ), the groups of guitarist Marc Ducret and flutist Sylvaine Hélary Spring Roll. «What if?» is Mayot’s new album and also the name of his new quartet. This quartet offers Mayot open and inclusive musical vision that distills his contrasting aesthetics and rich experiences and associations, incorporating motifs derived from prog-rock ensembles as Magma and United Colors of Sodom, West-African music of kora player Chérif Soumano, hip-hop as the one of poet Mike Ladd or the soundpainting of sax player François Jeanneau.
«What if?» features like-minded, genre-binding musicians. The kicking, groove-based rhythm-section – Mayot’s longstanding comrade, electric bass player Joachim Florent, who played with him before in the group Radiation 10 and the musicians collective named Coax, and the self-taught drummer Franck Vaillant. Belgian keyboards player Jozef Dumoulin adds to the quartet sound the ethereal-lunar, sometimes raw touch. Mayot wrote all the new compositions, recorded by the quartet on October 2015.
The quartet charges Mayot compositions with layered, often conflictual dynamics. Florent and Vaillant set the aggressive and energetic, fusion-tinged and effects-laden, rock-solid pulse; Dumoulin soars freely with his keyboards into distant, psychedelic atmospheres while Mayot stresses the strong, straight-ahead melodic veins of his post-bop songs, often with commanding lyrical improvisations. Still, despite the seemingly alienating courses the quartet sound as a tight and organic unit, where its parts are melted into a bigger – and deeper – whole. With «What if?» you can choose if you want to dance, with pieces like the the hypnotic «We’re Fighting» and «Half Starved Chords», alternate between breezy chill-out and sweaty work-out on a piece like the breezy «Attila» or dive into some disturbing meditation on «Waiting For The Storm».
Hugues Mayot (ts); Jozef Dumoulin (keys); Joachim Florent (b); Franck Vaillant (dr)