Benoît Delbecq 5


SGL 1529-2

“…in the best sense, the newest in new. It manages to push boundaries, sound fresh and smart, and be thoroughly and thoughtfully entertaining…This is sophisticated, evocative late-night music that draws the listener in with quality playing, quiet shimmering rhythms and ever shifting textures of sound.”

— Andrew Johnson,


Benoît Delbecq, one the most innovative pianists and composers to have emerged in the ’90s, has forged a personal style from jazz, ambient, contemporary classical (“Bogolan” is dedicated to Ligeti), and non-western musics. His playing on prepared piano and keyboards reveals fugitive harmonies and a rich palette of colors and phrasings. Polyphonic rhythmic-melodic “fabrics”, consisting of timbrally distinct groove-layers proceeding simultaneously at different speeds, suggest balafon, sanza, pygmy polyphony, gamelan, or John Cage. His new international quintet adds live electronic processing. Using a sampler, Steve Argüelles may at any point isolate and loop or filter musical elements that have just been played, triggering what Delbecq calls “memory whispers playing with the listener” – playing too with the other performers and thereby affecting the subsequent trajectory of the piece. Delbecq writes specifically for his performers and for the group dynamic. The composed material is intended to provoke an “improvisational orchestral complicity” to collectively create “harmolodic echoes of living micro-forms”, a music that seems to grow organically yet also has the shape-shifting quality of a waking dream. For Delbecq this music “evokes a metaphorical vision of traditional central African fabric crafts, seemingly regular weavings thus animated with mysterious mutations.”

Born in 1966 and based in Paris, Benoît Delbecq also leads Paintings (featuring Guillaume Orti, alto sax, Joe Carver, bass, and Steve Argüelles, drums; CD on Deux Z) and co-leads Kartet (with Orti, Hubert Dupont, bass, and Chander Sardjoe, drums; latest CD Jellyfishing on Pee Wee) and Ambitronix (with Argüelles, and featuring Req on turntables and Ashley Slater, mix, voice, and trombone). He performs in duos with François Houle (Nancali, Songlines) and writer Olivier Cadiot, and in The Recyclers (with Argüelles and Christophe Minck), in Lukas Ligeti’s A Pattern Language, Jacques et les veuves joyeuses, Katerine, Bertrand Denzler Cluster, Jungle Horns, Aka Moon, Marc Ducret Quintet, Tony Coe Trio, Los Incontrolados, Jorrit Dykstra Project, Les Amants de Juliette. etc. He has also performed and/or recorded with Steve Lacy, Louis Sclavis, Dominique Pifarely, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Alan Silva, Glenn Ferris, and Beñat Achiary.

Vancouver-based clarinetist/composer François Houle (b. 1961) is a jazz experimentalist and also a contemporary classical musician (co-leading Standing Wave). He leads the François Houle 5 (featuring Dave Douglas and Mark Dresser; CD, In the Vernacular: The Music of John Carter, Songlines) and a new electroacoustic quartet. His CDs include Hacienda (Songlines) and collaborations with Eyvind Kang/Dylan van der Schyff, Scott Fields/Jason Lee Roebke, poet Catriona Strang, Marilyn Crispell, and Joëlle Léandre/Georg Graewe. He has performed with Myra Melford, Wayne Horvitz, George Lewis, the NOW Orchestra, Evan Parker, William O. Smith, Paul Lovens, Guillermo Gregorio, etc.

Reedman/composer Michael Moore was born in Eureka CA in 1954 and has lived in Amsterdam since 1982. He established the label Ramboy in 1991 and appears on more than 50 CDs on various labels. Currently he leads or co-leads Available Jelly, The Persons, Thirteen Ways (with Fred Hersch and Gerry Hemingway), and Between the Lines. He co-led Trio Clusone. In ’99 he performed in Guus Janssen’s opera Noach, with the Italian Instabile Orchestra, and in Mingus’ Epitaph with Gunther Schuller at the Concertgebouw. He has performed and recorded with the Gerry Hemingway Quintet, the ICP Orchestra, Simon Nabatov, Mark Helias, Maarten Altena, and the Klaus Konig Orchestra, and performed with Lee Konitz, Joey Baron, Kenny Wheeler, Dave Douglas, Mark Feldman, Marylin Crispell, Mark Dresser, Myra Melford, etc.

Paris-based bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel has been active since 1972. He has a long association with Steve Lacy, and has worked with Don Cherry, Frank Wright, Butch Morris, Daunik Lazro, Glenn Ferris, Masahiko Togashi, Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders, David Murray, Dino Saluzzi as well as traditional African musicians (he’s a master of the kora and sanza).

Born in 1963 and Paris-based since 1992, Anglo-Catalan drummer/composer Steve Argüelles has a British quartet and quintet as well as leading or co-leading The Recyclers and Ambitronix. In the ’80s he was associated with Django Bates in Loose Tubes and Human Chain; he has also performed and/or recorded with Michael Nyman, Mose Allison, Slim Gaillard, Steve Lacy, Jimmy Giuffre, Lee Konitz, John Taylor, Norma Winstone, John Surman, Chris McGregor, Dudu Pukwana, Kenny Wheeler, Tony Coe, Original Master, Alex Balanescu, Toots Thielemans, Christy Doran/Robert Dick, Billy Jenkins, etc. With around 40 recordings to his credit he recently established his own label Plush to document Ambitronix and other jazz/dance/new electronica/post-rock cross-pollinations that are reinvigorating live improvised music.


Choc de l’année (12 best of the year), Jazzman (France)

Selected by Jazzman critics as one of the 50 outstanding records of the ’90s

“…a marvellous subtlety…” — France Musiques

**** “Pursuit is all about underlying themes that transgress rather seamlessly. Part of the beauty of this recording resides in the transient nature of these pieces as though the musicians were moving about or continuing their journey looking to explore new terrain or to take in the scenery as a group of artists on a mission seeking inspiration for further endeavors. Recommended!”  — Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz

“It’s rare to hear something this original. The closest comparison I can come up with is the Jimmy Giuffre 3 with an extra clarinetist and percussion. Benoit Delbecq’s compositions, while not as inscrutably beautiful or as blues-y as Giuffre’s, have a similar sort of cool abstraction about them. Delbecq hails from France, and he has worked with British drummer Steve Arguelles since the early 90s in The Recyclers with guitarist Noel Akchote. Their empathy is immediately apparent on Pursuit. Arguelles’ approach to drumming is analogous to Steve Lacy’s on soprano sax: stripped to the barest essentials, yet with a laser-like clarity of purpose…In a really interesting and musical way, it seems his playing is informed by so-called ‘drum ‘n’ bass’ styles…Avenel’s bass parts are partially scored, permitting Arguelles to roam freely over, under and in-between during the ensemble passages. The first track, with its brooding clarinet harmonies and contrapuntal bass / drums interplay, seems almost like a cross between M-Base (e.g., Steve Coleman) and contemporary chamber music…These guys are totally in command, definitely onto something, and I eagerly await the follow-up to this superb release.” — Dave Wayne,

“[Delbecq] figures today among the most inventive musicians on the European scene…Enlightened experimenter of a music decidedly personal in the way it links apparently contradictory influences from the freest improvisation and the ultra-sophisticated constructions of contemporary composers such as Ligeti or Conlon Nancarrow, Delbecq has succeeded in transcending this apparent dispersion in a coherent universe, at once limpid and mysterious, that draws its supreme liberty from a conceptional rigour which has few equals in contemporary music…A music of nocturnal poetry, apparently fluid and deceptively slack, all minute shimmerings and the play of braided textures, controls the flows and effects of superimpositions (of intensity, speeds, materials). One rediscovers what gives Delbecq’s music its mad charm – that delirious complexity of rhythmic fabrics with their insistent interlacing motifs repeating/transforming, evolving organically; that work on suspension, with its sensation of brusque accelerations stopped cold by imperceptible apneas. Beyond this, one feels here a new maturity, evidence of gestures that transcend the high sophistication of compositional devices put to work — something on the order of inspiration. It’s rare these days.” — Stéphane Ollivier, Les Inrockuptibles

avant jazz/third stream
  1. Strange loop
  2. Poursuite
  3. µ-turn
  4. A lack of dreams
  5. Polders
  6. Within the mean time
  7. Ntshaks
  8. Bogolan
  • Benoît Delbecq, piano, compositions
  • François Houle, clarinet;
  • Michael Moore, clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax
  • Jean-Jacques Avenel, bass
  • Steve Argüelles, drums & percussion
  • Marc Ducret, guitar (3)
  • Release Date
    February 15, 2000