Personnel: Olivier Manchon (violin); Hiroko Taguchi (viola); Christopher Hoffman (cello); Alan Hampton (double bass).
Audio Mixer: Alex Venguer.
Recording information: Kaleidoscope, NJ.
Illustrator: Maud Guély.
Photographer: Murat Eyuboglu.
Fond of waltz tempos, Frenchman Olivier Manchon (also known for work with the pop group Clare & the Reasons) exploits the tried-and-true chamber string-ensemble format highlighted by his jazz violin to create a beautiful sound that brings the past into the present. These selections all have a similar pulse within different paces, emphasizing the pretty, romantic side of music while allowing for a bit of innovation and improvisation. Flowing, clean, and clear notions are undisturbed in a way that suggests nature is the key inspiration in making this lovely music. Busier than usual on "Breakfast Queen," the strings buzz around Manchon, and skitter during the flowing "Come Back." Then they turn mysterious on "Just a Second" and are solemn in slow death for "Feline Leukemia." A bass clarinet from John Ellis is introduced on the very slow "Thirds," but at the ensemble's most evocative, during "The Hanged Man," lines are drawn and blurred in a worried emotional state. They even re-create the sexy, late-night "Valse Triste" composed by Jean Sibelius. Alan Hampton helps on bass to add more jazz content, as does harmonica darling Gregoire Maret for "Memories." It is that feeling of wanting, needing, and not quite getting there that haunts the overtones and underlying thought process of Manchon's music, as if the classicism clashes with the abject desire to improvise more. No matter the concept, the music is fully realized, and can easily be appreciated. ~ Michael G. Nastos