Review

The three-headed quintet

Aksham was born of an encounter between Geneva pianist Marc Perrenoud, Albanian-born Swiss singer Elina Duni and French trumpet player David Enhco.

Julien Delage - 2018-03-08
The three-headed quintet - Marc Perrenoud, Elina Duni and David Enhco ©Photographergeneva.com
Marc Perrenoud, Elina Duni and David Enhco ©Photographergeneva.com

There are astral beings whose bodies surrender to the laws of attraction, meaning that new combinations are born with an increased brightness simply because nothing was expected from the encounter. After a first musical meeting with Elina Duni, this is how Marc Perrenoud, Swiss pianist/composer (usually in a trio or solo), decided to form a band, sharing leadership with a singer whose musical journey lies somewehere between Balkan traditions and atmospheric jazz, and David Enhco, French trumpet player, leader of the Amazing Keystone Big Band and his own quartet. Named Aksham, this project is tied together by the impeccable rhythm section of Florent Nisse (double bass) and Fred Pasqua (drums) which acts as their cornerstone. Nothing foreshadowed such a meeting, making the result all the more exciting.

 

Power sharing

« We met at one of my concerts in 2017 where I was celebrating the 10th anniversary of my trio », explains Marc Perrenoud. « The desire then came about to set up a new project as a quintet, independent of what we had respectively done before. We don’t know yet exactly what our aesthetic orientation is going to be, but we know that we don’t want to do what’s already been explored, (for example Elina and Balkan music). We’re trying to find our own way in this new ensemble which presents us with questions of equilibrium. There’s a beautiful collective energy that’s emerging : Florent and Fred are helping with the arrangements, the plot, the tension. It's important for musicians to step out of their cocoon. »

 

In search of new musical territories

Unusual melodies sung in French and English, poems by James Joyce, a binary ballad inspired by Gainsbourg, a collective emotional feeling : the discovery of this new repertoire will be full of surprises to those already familiar with the musicians present. Perrenoud, who we’ve seen play the most difficult melodic-rhythmic figures with virtuosity, seems particularly attentive to accompanying Elina and David in their aerial wanderings. Although sometimes in the background, he takes charge of harmony and weaves invisible threads that connect each of the forces at play. As for Elina, she is not astonishing just because of the crystal blueishness of her voice (which we already know and love), but because of her disarming ease to approach a register sometimes closer to "chanson" than to jazz, because of the evident pleasure on her face, limbs and body to sing and thus penetrate the intimate fibers of a music with indefinite contours, as if being reborn. Finally, David Enhco, who frees up the pure lyricism in this fragile context where shyness and effusion barely dare to quarrel and where friendship is in its infancy.

 

Other forms of energy

« It's a project that makes me happy because it combines different dimensions »,  enthuses Elina Duni. « This sharing of tasks implies solidarity in the organization, finding concerts, subsidies, etc… It feels good not to be alone, it allows me to open up a musical window which is very important for my own development. I can’t imagine playing with people who do not touch me humanly. To find Marc, twenty years after our first group that we put together when we were seventeen, is a great joy. And now I’ve met David whose musical sensibility I really like. The laughs we share, this understanding, this friendship, are reflected in the music and it makes us want to go on tour together ». The group's upcoming concerts will clearly tighten these bonds. When questioned, there’s a sense of hope in each of the musicians, a kind of fragile utopia that could take shape even outside of the musical context. « It is certainly paradoxical for a Swiss person to have to face democracy », jokes Marc Perrenoud, « but I find it very nice not to be in the role of the boss, which stresses me. It’s an opportunity to bring together other forms of energy. I try to see this experience as a school. There are times when there might be some tension between us, but so much the better. We are five personalities open to discussion. Enrichment is human as well as musical ». From all this coming and going between their respective emotions and their collectively-developed music, Aksham comes across as a transparent reflection. The project is still under development and will necessarily continue to mature on stage, however we already know that it will give birth to an album whose recording is scheduled for next autumn and should be released in February 2019. There is no doubt that it will be the image of the group: warm, open and perfectly sincere.

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