The Martin Salemi trio offers us a trip through the history of jazz. The first album ‘Short Stories’ is a collection of stylish compositions that alternate between ballads, swing, asymmetrical grooves and rolling rhythms. A few references can be heard from the first measures of Confidence: pianist Nathalie Loriers and above all Enrico Pieranunzi, due to the light touch and his precious way of combining jazz and classical music into something as light and velvety as a summer breeze. But then, right in the middle of the tune, the pianist suddenly heads in another direction, picking up the tempo and welcoming in the fun of swing, running off long suites of improvised notes with the ease of a Keith Jarrett before finally coming – like magic – back to the nonchalance of the opening theme.
The rest of the repertoire proves one thing: Martin Salemi is not a man of one style. From Lennie Tristano, whose singularity and exceptional agility are evoked on ‘Lennie’s Pennies’, to the rolling rhythms of ‘Regina’ whose percussive chord-based introduction could be a nod to the bluesy exoticism of the great Horace Silver, we travel easily through the history of jazz. Whatever their genre or the influences that shape them, the leader’s compositions are all delightful. Not only do they have character – neither demonstrative nor affected – they are also memorable by their melodies, their precise structure and their ability to fully exploit their chosen format.
Consisting of bassist Mike Delaere pegged to the drummer Toine Cnockaert, the rhythm section is versatile and inspired. They amplify the leader’s nostalgic side on the splendid ‘Early Morning’ and then powerfully underline the impetuous rhythms of ‘Working Summer’ (listen in particular to Cnockaert’s drum solo). In parallel, note the sleeve illustration by the leader’s father, Jean-Claude Salemi, in a lively style that evokes both the popular style of a Maurice Tillieux crossed with Yves Chaland and a French série noire movie.
The trio won the B'Jazz International Composition Contest (B) in 2018.