Orbiting through time and space with the Jacques Schwarz-Bart Quartet is a heady experience–one that can only be undergone through his prolific album, “The Art of Dreaming.” This entrancing jazz odyssey manifests itself in the eclectic, internationally critiqued 10-track album that is absolutely out of this world.
Schwarz-Bart, an international saxophonist and composer who resides in New York, was born in Guadeloupe. Growing up, he also lived in Senegal, Switzerland and France prior to studying his craft at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. Since then, he has toured globally with other popular artists such as Roy Hargrove, Danilo Perez, Ari Hoenig, Meshell Ndegeocello, Chucho Valdes, Etienne Charles and D’Angelo, who dubbed him “Brother Jacques.”
According to Schwarz-Bart, the inspiration for the album (which was first released in France before hitting the American market) evolved after he read author/anthropologist Carlos Castaneda’s book, “The Art of Dreaming.” Citing Castaneda, Schwarz-Bart explained: “Ancient Toltec sorcerers had developed the art of staying aware while dreaming in order to travel to parallel worlds and have a better understanding of the human potential.”
This is the keystone of the composer’s current music project, which he describes as a “state of heightened awareness shared when playing together, which can be described as dreaming while awake. … I immediately drew a comparison with the musician’s quest. Except that instead of staying aware during their dreams, musicians manage to dream while awake, and they share their ‘dreams’ with other musicians and audiences. My first fluid experience took place with this quartet,” the tenor saxophonist continued, referring to himself and the other members, Baptiste Trotignon (acoustic piano), Thomas Bramerie (acoustic bass) and Hans van Oosterhout (drums).
And what beautiful, flowing dreams that innocently color this innovative, 10-track album, with its enchanting body of work: “Blues Jonjon”; “It’s Pain”; “Lullaby From Atlantis” and”Dlo Pann,” composed by Schwarz-Bart; “Peyotl”; “Moods”; “Massassoit” and “Voir,” arranged by Trotignon; and “Now” and “Emile,” arranged by Bramerie.
All the tracks are priceless. Opening with “Blues Jonjon,” the quartet seductively lures listeners into its magical world. As Van Oosterhout passionately sets up the time backsticking on the snare drum, he’s joined by the very tight rhythm section of Trotignon’s thrilling piano doubling to duplicate Bramerie’s rich acoustic bass, leading up to support the seductive samba feel that ushers in Schwarz-Bart’s oh-so-cool solo. And with his signature tenor sax, Schwarz-Bart conjures up the days of John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter and Lester Young for a truly transparent experience. It’s such a beautiful dance. It flirts, teases and invites listeners to come into its unique and captivating world.
“Moods,” with its slow bossa nova feel, is introduced by Schwarz-Bart’s mellow tone on sax, duplicated by Trotignon on piano. Bramiere’s acoustic bass solos and the excellent use of brushes (no drumsticks) by Van Oosterhout transports listeners to a melodious, futuristic realm where joy, peace and love reign.
The rhythmic, way-out, mid-tempo “Massasoit” with its signature 6/8 time structure is another winner. To keep this number uniquely interesting, Van Oosterhout’s energetic drums occasionally put a 4/4 beat under the 6/8 structure to bring this number to another level. Midway through this track with its forward-thinking theme, Schwarz-Bart’s sax solo, backed by the other musicians, breaks into a spicy, up-tempo swing, changing the time musically and emotionally to a signature to a foot-tapping 4/4 beat, with the quartet reverting back to 6/8 beat to end the song. Wow!
A myriad of other far-out selections vibrantly color “The Art of Dreaming.” “It’s Pain,” an eloquently passionate, sadly charming composition, captures all the emotions of a lost love. On the smooth, majestic “Now,” the quartet swings radiantly, painting a rainbow that is in concert with a humane world. And drifting captivatingly to another sphere is the serene “Lullaby From Atlantis,” like a carefully choreographed ballet that spins dreamily through a futuristic world.
Respect is the key and “open sesame” is the magic password for the Jacques Schwartz-Bart Quartet’s “The Art of Dreaming.” This album is a must-have for your collection.
“Carib Lingo” will continue our journey later this year with the avant-garde saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart, who’s working on a brand-new project. He said, “I’ve been hard at work finishing my new CD at the crossroads of jazz and sacred voodoo music.” This project, which he calls “Jazz Racine Haiti,” combines modern jazz and ritual voodoo music. We can hardly wait.