Alexis French is a Kiwi trumpeter recently graduated from jazz school in Montreal – his album, The Cut features Canadian players with French taking the lead. His horn offers a stately presence on ballad The Second Fall and combines nicely with David Bellemare’s tenor saxophone for some post-bop lines but the presence of Nicholas Ferron’s guitar is frustrating – incongruous. For everything in the playing here suggests a cool combo with nods to bop and though Ferron is no slouch his playing here just seems redundant.
When he’s sitting in behind as a rhythm player – as on Up – there’s some merit to the colour his voice adds but for the most part this is music that would have suited another horn part in place of a guitar, or particularly the work of a pianist able to add to the dance as both soloist and rhythm player.
That might sound like nit-picking – but it’s what holds this album up from being anything you absolutely must hear. When Bellemare and French are trading lines or entwining the sound of their horns this is bright and exciting but outside of that it’s merely diligent.
It will be interesting to see what French can do next – this feels far too safe and obvious and sees him simply tracing around the shapes of jazz he cut out and coloured in during his classes.
There’s enough talent on display here to suggest that there might be something more dazzling to arrive in follow up. But The Cut doesn’t quite cut it as anything special. That’ll be for album number two and/or three I reckon.