Bruno “Vishnu” Hovart (this man has at least four arms!), the main brain behind the groove of MJA, notorious cyber funkateer (known for the deep house, hip hop, and soul productions of Patchworks, Mr President, The Dynamics...), and the astonishing Mr Day (AKA Eric Duperray), channelling his angelic voice and soulful phrases tuned to his Green (Grant Green, for Blue Note) guitar style, remain together more than ever in complicity.
Bird of Spring, this new album hatched by the worldwide respected German label Infracom!, shows that MJA is more than a strong duet, it is a mythical quartet. Four aces… and three years of additional maturity!
From the tune “Bird of Spring” all the way to the thirteenth track of this 2006 session, one finds within this magical framework the astounding Ronget and Devigne, two sharpshooters of the new jazz generation who breathe much inspiration.
Light and subtle, MJA gives birth to a springtime jazz. Crystallized with the insets of Hard Bop, stirred with US soul, flirting with hip-hop, this project brings jazz back to the hip-shaking dancefloor (“Escapism”). Like in the 60's, when Cannonball “Buckshot LeFonque” Adderley liked to see jazz get down, get up and sweat. The ”Affair” has always had this frightening effectiveness.
This digital groove, which at the same time remains natural, innate, is a mystery, a miracle! It is part of the calling card of this Lyon formation. A fusional relationship between machines and vintage instruments, doubled with a respectful and meticulous appreciation of music history is at the base of this identity.
Electro was highly visible on the 2003 album. On that new release, it is today only as a simple working method. Directly, the texture on “Bird of Spring” seems warmer, denser and that is thanks to a return towards organic instrumentation.
Like INFRAcom!, the natural evolution of MJA has taken itself from electro through electro-jazz to a panoramic subtle jazz. They distil now modern soul jazz with an increasing presence of vocals (listen to “Drifting” or “You Can Dig”). Two thirds of this new repertory is sung!
In the end, the whole seems to have inherited this freshness, joviality, and this erudite naivety of Horace Silver's disciples.
In addition to Silver, one will find nods to Mark Murphy, D'Angelo, Freddie Hubbard, the Roots, Koop, Pharaoh Sanders, Five Corners Quintet and Madlib...
Two guests took part in the session: the tenor sax player Olivier Granger, with a Zen solo on “Fourmi Rouge”, and the US-born Real Fake MC with his nonchalant flow on “Roaming”.
Acoustic or electric, always eclectic, Benjamin Devigne remains a class 'A' pianist.
His versatility on grand piano, Fender Rhodes or Hammond organ gives the band an extended palette of musical colours and flavours. In parallel, the composer is pursuing a more contemporary direction with his “Benjamin Devigne Trio”.
Based for a few years in Montreal, medal holder from the Lyon Jazz Academy, Stephane Ronget has found a cool and well-travelled trumpet. From its transatlantic voyages, the horn got some flavoured and highly identifying bumps (“Everybody Knows”). This ragged breath drives the whole project and offers real takeoff tracks to fly (“Escapism”). Ronget also has his personal project as a trumpet player and singer, the Rongetz Foundation.
The result of this patient and precise effort, this osmosis of personalities, is omnipresent in these “Bird” songs, in springtime pearls like “Sigh of Dawn”. And the seductive Andy Bey styled vocals of “Find a Way” will surely take hold of your ears and soul, Mademoiselle.
“Bird of spring”, the album, is really to listen to with headphones close to the cortex, with the cruising roof down through urban landscapes and never ending rolling fields, towards to the Mediterranean Sea.
Fréquence Jazz (Lyon - Vienne - Aix-en-Provence - Monte-Carlo)