Modern jazz guitarist Alex Jacquemin’s latest memoirs First & Last Light is double concept album that captures specific moments of creation. The first album, colour-coded blue is called Charms and was created in 2010 with the help of a loop station accompanied by percussionist Mario Monaco and cellist Yoed Nir. The second album, colour-coded brown is called Zanchin and are live, spontaneous compositions created again with a loop station accompanied with just Yoed Nir back in 2008.
Let’s work our way backwards.
Zanchin was first conceived when Jacquemin moved to New York City where he could only play small gigs – hence delving into loop station technology – his musical partnership with Yoed Nir flourished during this period and the duo create beautifully together. The loop station here isn’t used as a gimmick and works because of the spontaneous nature of the recording, you can feel the artists reacting to one another and it helps that Jacquemin has no limitations to his guitar style. Every track on Zanchin is a dedication; opener “A Suzanne” is for his mother and revolves around a heart-breaking melody line, “A Bridgette” is for a friend who committed suicide and is a breath-taking buildup of guitar and cello loops while German philosopher, “A Peter Sloterdijk” is epitomized in Afro-beat.
Charms is the perfect companion disc to the moodier styling of Zanchin and features bright and groovier tunes taking “A Peter Sloterdijk” one step further by creating an entire album of African beats with percussionist Monaco. In addition, these melodic arrangements allow Jacquemin to show off a bit more as otherworldly opener “The Charm” proves. Follow-up track, “Snakes” features some scary quick finger-picking that builds on some eerie electronic sounds created by the guitar while my favourite track “Children” creates an atmosphere of joy with a few simple chords and effective playing.
First & Last Light is a classic mosaic of multi-cultural modern jazz that challenges contemporary jazz to extend beyond what is considered popular. Definite listen for guitar enthusiasts or those looking for a challenging but gratifying listen – prepared to be awed. (Independent)
Rating: 5/5 Stars