French saxophonist Laurent Bardainne summons the spirit of astral jazz on heavy-grooving new album, Hymne au Soleil.
A dreamlike, cinematic excursion to the outer reaches of the solar system and the inner workings of the soul, Laurent Bardainne returns to Heavenly Sweetness with his Tigre d’Eau Douce group for a second album of free-flowing, jazz-inflected groove.
Building on critically acclaimed 2020 album Love Is Everywhere, Hymne au Soleil sizzles with Arnaud Roulin’s Hammond organ licks, in-the-pocket bass work from Sylvain Daniel, and shuffling drum and percussion interplay from Philippe Gleizes and legendary Guadeloupean musician Roger Raspail, who has played with the likes of Kassav’, Cesaria Evora and Meshell Ndegeocello. Together they pin Bardainne’s soaring saxophone lines to the mast like a flag in the wind.
The 11-track album represents a consolidation of Bardainne’s vision as a consummate jazz saxophonist, having made his name collaborating with the likes of Pharrell Williams and Cassius, afrobeat legend Tony Allen and co-founding Tigersushi electro outfit Poni Hoax.
That eclectic experience comes to the fore on Hymne au Soleil, which is named after a piece by trailblazing French composer Lili Boulanger. Beginning with the lilting, late-night smoker ‘Oh Yeah’, which recalls the mellow funk of Khruangbin, the album rolls through a rich musical landscape, whether in the Motown-era soul breakdowns of ‘Adieu My Lord’ or the roaring, dance floor-ready ‘Hymne au Soleil’, that draw parallels with the high-octane sound of UK jazz outfit The Comet Is Coming.
Throughout, there is a full-blooded urgency to Bardainne’s writing that reflects his myriad influences. Look no further than the Pharoah Sanders-meets-Funkadelic freak-out ‘Destination Danger’ for evidence of his sensitivity to both the freedom of improvisation and the power of a solid hook.
Where Love Is Everywhere enlisted the vocal talents of Trinidadian label-mate Anthony Joseph, Hymne au Soleil features a beguiling collaboration with Paris-born, Guadeloupe-raised rising star Célia Wa on ‘Jou en Nou Rivé’, and French singer/guitarist Bertrand Belin on lush, nostalgic closer ‘Oiseau’. The album is further coloured by wistful choral refrains that drift in and out of view, providing a crepuscular soft-focus glow and dynamic counterpoint to Bardainne’s more ferocious sun-worship blowing.
Recorded at the iconic ICP Studios in Brussels in April 2021, Hymne au Soleil continues a prolific streak for the multi-faceted artist, whose collaboration with synth and sax master Etienne Jaumet was released as Bardainne Jaumet on Heavenly Sweetness in November 2021. It is set to further secure Bardainne’s place among the constellation of saxophonists charting a course into the cosmos. It remains to be seen just how far he will fly