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Mantis (2002)

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Erik Truffaz

French trumpeter Erik Truffaz began to gain U.S. recognition via two strong Blue Note discs, The Mask and Revisité. His third stateside release, Mantis, finds him again blending jazz with cutting-edge rhythms associated with drum'n'bass and hip-hop. But this time the lineup has changed, most notably with Manu Codjia's spiky, spacy electric guitar replacing Patrick Muller's Fender Rhodes piano. Double-bassist Michel Benita and drummer Philippe Garcia, also new faces, largely stick to the tripped-out rhythmic language typical of Truffaz's earlier efforts. In addition to the club music element, Truffaz incorporates Arabic influences on "Nina Valeria" and "Magrouni," the former a stark duet with oud player Anouar Brahem and the latter a showstopping feature for Tunisian vocalist Mounir Troudi. In another departure, Codjia switches to acoustic guitar for an especially lyrical duo with the leader called "Yasmina." Here, as well as on the melancholy 7/4 closer "Tahun Bahu," Truffaz seems to be going for a more organic sound, perhaps in part to shake off tiresome comparisons with electric Miles Davis. (Don't miss the hidden bonus track, a riotous instrumental version of "Magrouni.") ~ David R. Adler