…The two guitarists trade and share melodies and solos in energetic conversation.
Elsden Music E.2 EM05
Nigel Price (guitar – left channel); Alban Claret (guitar – right channel); Mikele Montolli (double bass); Matt Fishwick (drums)
Recorded March 2022
Entente Cordiale, the new album by guitarists Nigel Price and Alban Claret is a celebration of great jazz compositions brought to life through Price and Claret’s guitars, backed by their dynamic quartet. Entente Cordiale is an album that plays across a choice menu of jazz compositions and makes them sound as if they were all written for guitar.
The two guitarists’ styles are well suited to each other throughout, speaking the same language with slightly different inflections and accents. The name of the album — translated as a cordial agreement with — is playful in that these musicians play as if they were born in agreement.
The album starts with a quartet of rollicking songs that make the case for the whole collection, as the two guitarists trade and share melodies and solos in energetic conversation. The next three songs offer a more introspective dialogue that demands attention to the song’s harmonic subtleties.
On Charles Mingus’ ‘Self Portrait in Three Colors’, their achingly beautiful interplay of melody lines that are both drawn from each other and feed each other paintball the colours the song intends. This is true even as the guitars subtly support the bass’ melodic break. This song is achingly beautiful.
‘Blues for Herb’ is an energetic blues that captures the spirit of the of Emily Remler’s original performance while completely making it their own. Their duelling guitars sound like they are finishing each other’s sentences without ever repeating each other or speaking over each other.
Like any conversation, there are pauses and changes in inflection that add colour to the proceedings. These shifts add to the breadth of the songs while showcasing Price and Claret’s musical dexterity and vocabulary. On ‘Time Remembered’, Price and Claret completely capture Bill Evans’ haunting and delicate melody.
The last three songs on the album bring the listener back into lively territory on ‘I’m Old Fashioned’ and ‘This is New’. Price’s arpeggiated chords at the end of ‘I’m Old-Fashioned’ echo the strains of the song’s lyrical fit, music while being completely in the moment. Likewise, for their version of Weill’s ‘This is New’. The album closes with the Bossa Nova standard ‘Pensativa’ ringing with the same playfulness and sense of guitar-driven joy as the album’s opening.
Rounding out the quartet, bassist Mikele Montoli and drummer Matt Fishwick are nimble and provide the guitarists the space and support to have their guitar conversation. Montoli adds his own solo touches to the more introspective songs that seamlessly add to the guitarist’s dialogue while extending it into new spaces.
Each note on this album is a word in a musical dialogue where every word is necessary and perfectly timed. Every song is different but unified by the twin guitarists’ delivery. The guitarists treat their rhythm playing with the same importance as their melody lines and solos, and listening to the interplay of one guitarist’s melody against the other’s chording is one of the multiple joys of hearing this album.
Through-out, Price and Claret let their guitars fully explore each song as if they are only rushing to go where their harmonic partnership takes them.
Reviewed by Ben Miller