Henri Texier, Respect

Charles Farrell

By Charles Farrell

on 08.15.13 in Reviews

Bassist Henri Texier’s Respect resonates with a quiet strength — an authority that doesn’t call attention to itself, but which in nonetheless evident from the album’s first notes. When you consider the personnel — Lee Konitz on alto, Bob Brookmeyer on trombone, electric bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Paul Motian, along with Texier himself — this kind of assurance makes a lot of sense. They’re all fundamentally modest players, but each has a long and notable history in jazz (a case can be made for every one of them having a part in the making of that history) that allows access to its entire vocabulary.

Showing power in subtlety

Texier is a savvy leader. You always know he’s there, but he regards his function as providing support for the other players; the more ear-catching bass solos are generally ceded to Swallow’s electric. Still, it’s palpably Texier’s album. Everything moves from the bass up, and his anchoring lines set the texture and tone for each piece. Texier, Swallow and Motian lock up to set up a dangerous-sounding vamp on the opening title track. The bassists double huge fifths, which give way to Swallow’s lyrical, guitar-range solo. Brookmeyer is spacious, his great burnished tone carrying his turn in front. Motian once again shows how adept he was at saying a lot while using very few words. Everyone here is a prime changes player, so it’s satisfying to hear them close things out by showing how much can be done with the chords. The quintet also makes it so plain that you don’t have to shout to get people’s attention, and that there can be plenty of power in subtlety.