Three Blind Mice, far from playing similar roles to the their proverbial namesakes, not only don’t lose their tails, nor, in fact, do they wag the dog so to speak but the trio swings their way with swagger through the remarkably eloquent music on See How They Run. The group comprising contrabassist Sébastien Girardot who is equally at home in “jazz manouche” as walking a “second line” or swinging with impeccable taste is one-third the trio. The others are banjoist and guitarist Felix Hunot, who is also the featured vocalist and Malo Mazurié, the man who wields the brazen and flaming horn – a trumpet or cornet, as the music demands – throughout this ravishingly beautiful recording.
“The French,” Whitney Balliett once said, “Are old hands at introducing other cultures to themselves” and they certainly did so with Jazz, having a hand in the “making” (so to speak) of New Orleans. All of this is not only clearly borne out by this recording, but the Three Blind Mice prove that it is an enduring trait that has continued to grow strong with age. The repertoire then has been assiduously selected to represent the colour, texture and the vivid and loud sounds of New Orleans; the launching pad being the music of Sidney Bechet, and the great stride pianists, Willie “The Lion” Smith, James P. Johnson and Fats Waller, which from there sends the recording in orbit with a generous representation of work from the tribe of great songwriter from the US including Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin to Jimmy Giuffre.
Featuring extraordinarily beautiful arrangements of simmering seduction Mr Giradot together with Mr Mazurié and Mr Hunot traverse this repertoire with humour, elegance and the requisite raw and sometimes (requisite) raucous emotion with which some of this music was originally conceived. In “Viper Mad”, for instance the musicians romps through the sustained inventions of Mr Bechet’s creation with meticulous care, Mr Mazurié heating the melody to melting point while Mr Giradot whips through the its bass line creating a vivid rhythm while paving the way for Mr Hunot to pour in the changes. The whole recording springs to life bobbing from one gleaming gem to the next.
Such magical playing through Mr Berlin’s “Russian Lullaby” and ends in “Three Blind Mice”, and both songs shine as the musicians sculpt the long inventions of the former while seductively bending the notes of the latter to the extent that it becomes clear that not a single quarter note throughout hasn’t been fastidiously considered. Add to all of this the utterly brilliant version of Mr Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” featuring Mr HUnot on banjo and the vocal passages on “Home” in which Mr Hunot’s mellifluous timbre beguiles (as much as Mr Giradot’s and Mr Mazurié’s virtuoso soli thrill) in a spacious and most elegant manner befitting a recording that is to die for.
Track list – 1: Viper Mad; 2: Echoes of Spring; 3: Fidgety Feet; 4: Black Beauty; 5: Carolina Shout; 6: Southern Sunset; 7: Humoresque; 8: Don’t Be That Way; 9: Four Brothers; 10: Panama; 11: Home; 12: The Jitterbug Waltz; 13: Chloe; 14: Russian Lullaby; 15: Three Blind Mice
Personnel – Sébastien Girardot: contrebasse; Felix Hunot: guitare, banjo et chant; Malo Mazurié: trompette et cornet
Released – 2019
Label – Independent
Runtime – 52:33