Emile Parisien was artist in residence at last summer’s Jazz in Marciac season in south-west France, and by all accounts this was its outstanding concert. It was also very French, not least in the enigmatic title of his three-part suite Le Clown Tueur de la Fête Foraine, which I translate as “The Killer-Clown Of The Funfair”. Parisien plays the wayward soprano saxophone with the negligent grace that comes only with exceptional technique. His quintet here includes the German virtuoso pianist Joachim Kühn and the combination, while remarkable, can be a bit overwhelming. On the other hand, among the guests is the accordionist Vincent Peirani, whose melodic flair and lightness of touch make his playing a permanent delight, and Wynton Marsalis, who apparently takes his summer vacation at Marciac. He and Parisien perform a fiendishly difficult-sounding, yet gloriously funny version of Temptation Rag that seems to have stolen the show. The CD comes with a DVD of the concert, containing a couple of extra numbers. Sfumato, the title of Parisien’s 2017 album, refers to a painting technique to suggest indistinctness. There’s another enigma.
Emile Parisien Quintet: Sfumato Live in Marciac review – an outstanding concert captured