Daniel Zimmermann | CD Review – Montagnes Russes

Written by | CD Reviews, News

Daniel Zimmermann has released a CD full of wonders, delights, and essences. The theme is a man and all his strengths, weaknesses, foibles and amazing gifts. This album was a total surprise even to me. Daniel’s playing is completely original in places, traditional in others and he is one heck of a trombone player.

‘Au temps Otant’ opens the CD and is just about the most traditional track on the album – trombone solos set amongst gentle, rolling support of drums, guitar and double bass. Daniel’s control of the trombone’s tone is immediately obvious as you would expect but after a particularly gentle guitar stride he decides to rev it up a bit and introduces some delicate and intricate split notes, chords and a beautiful section where he plays the theme, exploring, delving ever deeper into the realms it provides yet never going over the top.  A section of counter rhythms between guitar interrupts the laid back feel to this number before a return to the theme. All is gently simmering. There is a very natural sound and part of you wonders what it would be like if this player went just a little bit free.  Then, in ‘Mamelles’ there it is; the unleashing of this prodigious, explorative composer. He takes a rough little riff and develops it, creating little sideways grooves, the odd solo bit, then all together for a triumphant entree from the rest of the musicians before a theatrical counterpointed rhythm section where the bass, drums, and guitar interplay until the trombone establishes the theme again. Some intuitive guitar and percussion support an impressive solo half way along the track.   ‘Mountain Girl’ flows around a rock- influenced theme, imperious and strong, which the trombone improvises over, and this track includes a heavy section from guitar and drums thunking out the rhythmic theme in true rock style, complete with ‘epic’ guitar solo. Tongue in cheek maybe but it works and sits quite rightly in the middle of the track. The theme is thumped out and the trombone is almost rudely assertive, which makes this track great.

‘Dans La Nu De La Vie’ swings from imperious, strong, characterful playing to gentle, delicate notions where the trombone is pushed higher and higher, nearly beyond its limits. There is a subtlety to this track, which is clever, and the beat drives this. There is a nod to heavy rock with a bass and drum section over which the guitar soars. There is also included a little riff which is not part of the theme but played, echoed and played again by all the musicians at one point and it flows throughout the number, which is clever composition and imaginative. ‘Mademoiselle’ is soft, breathy and slowly swings into existence. The trombone introduces several melodies over the bass and drums whilst there is a resonant theme too. This switches to a higher tone at one point and the piece rolls gently onward with each musician offering a share of the theme. The tone is such here you can hear every nuance, every breath, and glissando. Some notes are tongued, others not which adds just enough difference to bring this track above the dolorous regions it threatens to descend into at times.

‘Come On Baby’ announces itself with a strong trombone-led theme, brassy and full on, the staccato leading into a flowing, moving melody which flows in and out, counter marked by percussion. A lovely track, well developed and rich. ‘Mr Squale’ is improvised around a cheeky theme, which is introduced at several points.  The emphatic humour in this track lifts it and creates a lively piece, which moves the feet. There is a lovely, worked trombone solo over a swing beat and sections of sheer brilliance from Daniel’s horn, which make you, realise just how versatile the trombone is in the hands of a young, developing master.  The soaring guitar adds contrast to the rampaging theme. Beautiful. ‘Montagnes Russes’ is gentle, atmospheric and slows the pace down for a while. It includes a glorious guitar solo from Pierre Durand. ‘Vieux Beau’ is delicious, with closely interlinked melodies which interweave and transform from one second to the next from swing to funk.  Slurred guitar notes in the solo give the impression of dialogue and the rest of the musicians pick up the conversation and pass the themes back, forth and back again. A hugely interesting track musically and great to listen to. ‘Tiens Aujourd’hui il ne fait pas beau’ is melancholic, atmospheric and conjures up the atmosphere felt when a day is full of sadness, the playing demonstrating another side to Daniel’s technique with long, held notes and crescendos and diminuendos which create the mood.  ‘Believe’ is the final track and has a French influenced, swing theme, which is gentle and calming, and on this track, a single theme is introduced and developed throughout.

This is a very interesting and revealing CD. Perhaps I haven’t lived enough but I have never heard trombone playing like this. Daniel Zimmermann shows many aspects of the trombone, from the brassy lower registers to the trumpet -ike stut notes and the high, almost out of ear shot screams. He shows what a trombone can really do and the sound is controlled and confident.  He also knows how to use musicians and there is an interesting use of the single string cone guitar – (Dobro) in places by Pierre Durano. And the deep tones of the soubassophone of guest Didier Havet on the opening track. Daniel does not just play the notes, he develops them, and each one is carefully shaped, formed and presented to the listener in just the right tone to enhance the mood. Each track has a certain theme and while there is strong referencing of other styles in some, like in the opening track where it swings from imperious funk to mischievous blues, the atmosphere of each track is largely held throughout. In many of the tracks, there are one, two or even three melodies, which are interwoven and played against each other, which introduces interest, texture, and depth. Like most great music, this CD reveals more with each listens. This careful and clever writing leads to an album full of emotion and excellent musicianship interpreting the ideas in the compositions. There is something quite extraordinary about the playing of Daniel Zimmermann and he blows apart the idea that trombones sit in the brass section as support – here he brings the instrument to its rightful place as a solo brass piece, which can set music alight.  Heavy rock overtones, subtle blues, imperious jazz and deep dark -something. Loose-lipped in tracks like ‘ Mr Squales’ and smooth and controlled in ‘Dans La Nu De La Vie’, his playing is an ear-opener.

A CD to listen to again and again – great music.

Personnel; Daniel Zimmermann – trombone, composition

Julien Charlet – drums

Pierre Durand; guitar, dobro

Jerome Regard ; bass, double bass

Guest Didier Havet on soubassophone (track 1).

Label:  Label Bleu www.label-blue.com

Daniels website: www.danielzimmermanntrombone.com

press contact : Valerie Mauge


Photo(s) credit: Sylvain_Gripoix

Last modified: July 15, 2018