Proving once again that musical preconceptions are worthless, comes Prelude, an album featuring an unlikely duo combining trumpet and guitar. Who would imagine that such a duo could hold an audience’s attention over the whole of an album? So perhaps it isn’t surprising that given that kind of preconception, it took me four months to give this January release a listen. The trouble is that when your duo combines a trumpeter as fine as Airelle Besson with a sensitive guitarist like Nelson Veras, preconceptions are meaningless, and in this case they unreasonably kept the album on the shelf gathering dust.
Photo credit: Airellebesson.com
Fine musical talent in almost any combination can be successful. You need to listen to the product to make any sort of adequate judgment, and listening to the dozen tracks laid down by Besson and Veras will very quickly demonstrate that truth. Prelude is filled with gorgeous music. Besson’s playing is often magical and Veras works hard to keep that magic front and center. These are artists that complement each other completely.
Whether they are reinvigorating a classic like “Body and Soul” or taking on an original composition like Veras’ “Vertiges,” they have an infectious passion for the strong melodic line. Theirs is music you want to listen to carefully as they develop and play with musical ideas. The atmospheric treatment of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “O Grande Amor” is a further case in point.
The lion’s share of the album, however, is made up of Besson originals. A fine composer, Besson’s compositions are as high in quality as her work on the trumpet. The duo opens the album with her “Ma Ion,”which she introduces with a haunting solo, and then moves on to the quirky Latin rhythms of “Pouki Pouki.” “Neige,” “Full Moon in K,” and “Lulea’s Sunset” are programmatic pieces with cleverly evocative themes. “Virgule” is an improvised piece for Besson, and “Birsay” and “Time to Say Goodbye” round out the album.
Prelude is very convincing proof that music doesn’t have to be the same old same old to make for some fine listening.