(All Album Reviews by jlneudorf)
Way back in 1982 French musician Jean-Paul Prat released the Zeuhl inspired album Masal. Up to fourteen musicians helped him out on that album and went on to perform with stalwarts including Magma, Soft Machine and Gong. Fast forward to 2009 and we have the follow up album Galgal to sink our teeth into. The music Prat presents us this time around is not Zeuhl but mostly jazz rock with occasional elements of the Canterbury style. The album can be slightly dissonant at times and the music has an eclectic feel. Jean-Paul Prat's piano is an integral part of the musical landscape as every song is driven by his playing which I have to say is very good. It's a very jazzy sounding disc with the sounds sometimes hard to get, as the melodies do not jump out upon the first one or two listens. No, this music takes a little effort but will be worth it in the end.
Another integral component is the saxophone play of Richard Héritier who puts his stamp all over this disc. Song after song he demonstrates what an excellent player he is as his sax adds texture to Prats's pleasant piano stylings. It should be noted that although the musicianship is very good, the emphasis is on the arrangements and not so much on individual solos and showy play. This clearly has the feel of a band effort.
The first five songs are enjoyable slices of well composed jazz rock, but nothing truly blew me away. The short "Prélude et fantaisie espagnols" is a bit different from the others as it is an all piano track that really features Prat's talent. That being said, Masal saves the best for last with the fourteen minute epic "Talitha Coumi". Again, the two main ingredients are piano and sax, however, this time the Canterbury inspired melodies really work. This is a light and airy piece and is surely the most melodic on the album. An excellent song and a fine way to end the album.
So there you have it. I am sure Galgal will sit well with anyone who appreciates good jazz musicianship. Although not completely accessible upon first listen, the music sounds quite fresh after a few spins. Recommended for jazz fans, but should have cross over appeal for progressive music fans as well.