Translation: Doris Southam...……………………………………………………………………………. ………August 2009
Manfred Schoof – “RÉVOCATION” – Pierre Courbois
I have known and held Pierre Courbois in high esteem since the time of our mutual membership of the Gunter Hampel Quintet, which, through his exciting and inspirational playing of the drums, he helped to attain that pure rhythmic structure, which is characteristic of successful and mature music.
Pierre is not only a good five-four-time composer, (which I did not know until I received his CD) but he is also a superb 5/4 (or 5/8) player. The only comparable intensive creativity in the handling of this interesting and complicated beat I know of is that of Max Roach in his heyday. When one follows Pierre’s solos one feels that he knows exactly, where he is and what he is doing. As much as I am fascinated by his playing – and had been fascinated by it right from the beginning – when we played 5/4 together for the first time in 1964 – I am amazed at his role as a bandleader and composer!
The music of the composer Pierre Courbois is so multifaceted and colourful, that one forgets the 5/4 beat, although it pulses continuously and unmistakeably.
The composition “Révocation” is a particularly interesting and unusual piece.
After listening to it, I could understand this title not so much as a “Revocation”, but rather as a recall of musical ideas, newly formulated.
The piece starts with an introduction of mellow trumpet and piano which eventually, in a relaxed way, the other instruments join in. With this theme is developed – it moves by half tone intervals downwards until it ends in a kind of stop-and-go-movement – staccato effects alternated by linear structures – which develop into a certain middle part dictated by the effects of the percussion.
Finally, the central theme leads back into the theme of the beginning, which, because of the calm movement in 8ths of the melody, it is difficult to recognize that this piece is a ballad. Of course, this is a ballad of a special kind, as is everything else that one can hear on this CD. After the presentation of the theme, the last chords lead to a fulminating, highly brilliant trombone solo. (Compliment: in a long time I have not heard a trombone player of such virtuosity – was Bart van Lier his teacher?) The (tenor) saxophone and the piano enrich the piece with inspiring solos.
With this ballad in 5/4 beat, Pierre has dared to go into an area – (ballad 5/4) which, until now, few have tried to tackle. Probably because it is so difficult. I can only remember the trumpet player Booker Little, who successfully – supported by Max Roach, whom I consider to be godfather to Pierre Courbois – tackled this beat.
In “Révocation” there is not really a key in the normal sense, but the key is floating, to finally end up surprisingly in a B-flat major chord. For the rhythmic form of the piece, Pierre has chosen to play with brushes, which underlines the calm, floating and overall character of the composition.
With his music, Pierre Courbois has continued the tradition of Booker Little – Max Roach, and created music with its own character. A music that is unique in its clarity, its logic and in its simultaneously colourful richness.
Passion and calmness, brilliance and nonchalance alternate and complement each other, just as in the world of human emotions. A music that is successful and unique.
Prof. Manfred Schoof.