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Album Review

Sylvain Luc is a master of understatement. Unlike so many other, often overambitious jazz guitarists, he understands the concept of less-is-more, valuing spaces and pauses as much as he does the sounds that fill those spaces the rest of the time. Luc's acoustic guitar touch is light but forceful, his probing expressions constantly brimming with color, surprise and sensitivity. That his supporting players are on the same page makes all the difference, too: Pascal Rey, the standard drummer/percussionist, and the Iranian brothers Keyvan and Bijan Chemirani, who play a small collection of Eastern drums (daf, zarb, bendir and udu), are particularly busy punctuating the air with an array of clicks, pops and bangs of all sorts, and Luc generously fleshes out his own stringed thoughts throughout with bold, well-defined adornments from cello, clarinet, harmonica and piano. The world music flavorings are fitting for the broader vision Luc is aiming at here — the guitarist is French and comes from a family of gypsy musicians, so his international leanings are part and parcel of his outlook, lending a multicultural sense to what is essentially a Western music. Whether performing his own material or reinventing melodies from the Doors (the opening "Light My Fire" sets the tone nicely by indicating that this record is going to dodge expectations), James Taylor, Paul McCartney, Joe Jackson (an exquisite and imaginative "Steppin' Out") or Keith Jarrett (Luc is brave), Luc's scholarly technique never overwhelms his playfulness and burning desire to create something truly original.


Born: 1965 in France

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

French guitarist Sylvain Luc has honed his jazz improvisations since the 1980s, when he first discovered jazz as a teenager. He studied at the prestigious Academy de Bayonne as a child, mastering the guitar, cello, violin, and mandolin, but jazz shed a different light on Luc's musical ambitions. He spent time with the Bubble Quartet, discovering an appreciation for South African music in his twenties. Luc combined his love for jazz with worldbeat sounds and carved a career for himself. He issued...
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Joko, Sylvain Luc
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