PETER VAN HUFFEL / SOPHIE TASSIGNON – “Hufflignon”, Clean Feed Records, CF126
All About Jazz, Wilburg MacKenzie, 03, 2009 issue
Saxophonist Peter Van Huffel and vocalist Sophie Tassignon’s new release, Hufflignon, features compositions by both musicians, brought to life by an unusual quartet of trombone, woodwinds, voice and contrabass. Huffel and Blaser are often teamed
up with intricately-voiced melodies, while bassist Michael Bates alternates between foundational support, textural bowing and thoughtful melodic statements. Tassignon’s singing is quite versatile; on more structured pieces like “Thoughts And Memories” and the opener, “Dégringolade”, she exhibits horn-like melodic and rhythmic dexterity, while at other times her voice wanders through a labyrinthine maze of amorphous syllabic abstractions. Two examples of the latter approach include “Landscape (morning)”
and “The Sad Imposing Tree”, both of which provide wonderfully abstract sound worlds. That isn’t to say that the music is at all dualistic; rather, the abstractions and melodies react nicely together, creating a unified sonic environment that moves freely between steady pulse and more introspective arrangements of sound. Tassignon’s piece “Nervous Breakdown” veers closer to the careening chamber improvisation of the Paul Bley/Steve Swallow-era Jimmy Giuffre 3, with a dexterous solo from Blaser. Van Huffel’s playing throughout is richly nuanced, with melody and texture seamlessly integrated to create colorful and evocative statements.