Music Reviews

Erik Truffaz

The Walk of the Giant Turtle

Blue Note

French trumpeter Erik Truffaz is a man on a (quixotic) mission: to make fusion jazz respectable again. It’s been a long time since “Mr. Magic” and its success has firmly cemented schlock into the jazz fusion mix. And, while corny mothers like Kenny G., Najee, Boney James, and Joe Sample have flourished like no other jazz artists before, most jazz fans (and probably the genre itself) have suffered greatly for it. It takes an artist of Truffaz’ talent and vision for us to realize that fusion can actually be a good thing.

The Walk of the Giant Turtle, the trumpeter’s fourth U.S. release, is a wonder to behold. Truffaz uses d&b, hip-hop, funk and rock to great effect. Only Medeski, Martin and Wood are comparable in their understanding of these genres and how they can be fully utilized in jazz. “Scody Part II” is an amazing funk cut, and “Bell de Nuit” is an incredible glide-groove ride.

Comparisons are often made between Truffaz and Miles, and this release will only make the clamoring louder. Truffaz uses the mute and space exactly like the former trailblazer. Sometimes you can’t help thinking you’re listening to a sample. And, when Truffaz & Co. go into rock fusion, like on great songs like “King B,” you find yourself checking the CD player to see if you’ve accidentally thrown in On the Corner.

There are moments when Truffaz is being imitative; but this album is such a treat, those moments are easily forgivable. Truffaz is tilting at a mighty large windmill here. Even jazz fans who can be receptive to fusion are usually hostile to the idea, and the purists would stone the man just for trying. It’s not safe territory, and this quartet doesn’t play it as such. They are bold and imaginative and fill your ear drums with fantastic music. Adventurous jazz fans and electronica aficionados alike will be grateful for this endeavor.

Blue Note Records: • Erik Truffaz:

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