ALTERNATIVE/POST-PUNK band The Cure are now well into their thirtieth year. And, selling many millions of albums, with chart hits such as Boys Don’t Cry and In Between Days, the iconic rockers continue to gig to a huge following, headlining UK and international festivals.
Not the most obvious connection, then, for a new jazz release… but, for progressive French saxophonist Pierrick Pédron, the perfect challenge! His previous release on ACT Music, Kubik’s Monk, explored the music of legendary jazz pianist Thelonious Monk. Here, in Kubic’s Cure, he takes a sideways step to deconstruct a selection of nine pieces from The Cure’s considerable back catalogue and then re-invent them for a chordless trio line-up – with fellow countrymen Thomas Bramerie (double bass) and Franck Agulhon (drums) – plus guests. The transformation is remarkable, producing a grittier, harder edge than the darkly pulsating guitar characteristics of the originals – and even without direct comparison, the result is an exciting forty five minutes of high-octane invention.
Opener A Forest reflects a little of the original’s brooding mystery. But with expansive, thrashing drums and rasping, athletic bass, Pédron really pushes this into overdrive, abruptly changing tempi and creating strong, trilling, melodic sax lines – an extraordinarily solid output from a trio. ‘Surrogate guitarist’ Thomas Bramerie provides the repetitive bassline momentum to In Your House, which also features the expressive, gravelly vocals of Thomas De Pourquery who both complements and gyrates around Pédron’s alto. The former upbeat pop feel of The Caterpillar is replaced by propulsive drum/bass foreboding, any brief quotations of the original theme soon stifled by minacious sax and electronics, Pédron improvising rapidly and mesmerically; and the familiar ’80s synth-led In Between Days now teasingly dances to an impudent, boisterous complexity of rhythms – an excellent reimagining.
Bramerie’s sinewy bass introduces spectacular Middle Eastern dance episode A Reflection, Ghamri Boubaker’s atmospheric Algerian flute and Zorna Algeroise both combining deliciously with Pierrick Pédron’s alto; and, in similar vein, Killing an Arab only intensifies the pace, introducing the fiery trumpet of Médéric Collignon, Franck Agulhon as blistering as ever at the kit. Resembling quite markedly the fervour of ACT stablemate trio Depart, The Cure’s Just Like Heaven and Close To Me are represented in a quickfire 5/8, 6/8 conga; and Pédron picks up on Lullaby’s original pizzicato string effects to create a repetitive mid-tempo groove which escalates in intensity. Boys Don’t Cry is arguably the most familiar of The Cure’s hits and Pédron’s crew delight in pulling it this way and that, Collignon’s trumpet infusing it with mariachi zest and partnering the leader’s enthusiasm to a festive conclusion.
Released in the UK on 12 May 2014, this is a vibrant and imaginative project worth hearing (further information and audio samples here). I hope Pierrick has a copy on its way to Robert Smith!
Pierrick Pédron alto saxophone
Thomas Bramerie double bass
Franck Agulhon drums
Médéric Collignon trumpet
Thomas De Pourquery vocals
Ghamri Boubaker Zorna Algeroise & Algerian flute
ACT Music – 9554-2 (2014)