LAURENT COQ & WALTER SMITH III
The Lafayette Suite
The Lafayette Suite is French piano player Laurent Coq’s new album, co-signed with American saxophonist Walter Smith III. It was recorded in New York in September 2014 with a quartet featuring Joe Sanders on acoustic and electric basses and drummer Damion Reid, two musicians Laurent is familiar with since they were already featured in his 2008 album Eight Fragments of Summer (88Trees). Damion was also the drummer on Laurent’s 2003 quartet record (Like a Tree in the City, Sunnyside/88Trees).
“If the French jazz scene is exciting today, it’s due in good part to piano player Laurent Coq” according to Télérama, which praises the pianist’s creativity, his striking originality as a composer, as well as the rigor and inspiration of his improvising. A sideman with saxophonists Julien Lourau and Pierrick Pedron or singer Elisabeth Kontomanou in the past, Laurent Coq co-lead the project “Rayuela” with alto player Miguel Zenon, and recorded several trio and quartet albums under his own name, garnering much praise from reviewers.
Joe Sanders is without a doubt one of the most in-demand young bass player of the current New York jazz scene. He plays in Gerald Clayton’s trio and is now part of Charles Lloyd’s new quartet along with Gerald and Eric Harland.
Damion Reid is an emblematic drummer of his generation. He has been part of piano player Robert Glasper’s trio back in the 2000s, a trio that just reunited, and also plays today in acclaimed saxophonist Steve Lehman’s trio.
For this new collaboration, Laurent Coq invited Californian saxophonist Walter Smith III, a regular member in the bands of trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and drummer Eric Harland, to work around the historic figure of the Marquis de Lafayette.
Lafayette was a young aristocrat who left France in 1777 at only nineteen years old to fight alongside the American Insurgents against the British. This extraordinary adventure serves as inspiration for the ten chapters suite that Laurent and Walter co-wrote, each musician writing half of the songs.
Through his rare commitment, Lafayette embodies the audacity and the capacity to dive into the unknown - qualities that jazz musicians have always strived to develop - and he symbolizes better than anybody else the friendship between France and America.
This project received the support of the prestigious FAJE (French American Jazz Exchange, financed by the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and the French Institute), a program that aims to encourage collaborations between French and American musicians.
This support allowed the musicians the means and time to develop and refine an entirely new body of work over the course of a full year. It was necessary for the music to become fluid and natural, and for the band, once in the recording studio, to in turn be as audacious and daring as its inspiration model.
Discover the album trailer.
MORE ABOUT THE ALBUM
The inspiring nature of the material and the constant commitment of all four musicians is evident in the album, a non-stop suite that evokes Lafayette’s commitment to freedom from the moment he becomes aware of the cause of the American Insurgents up until the final battle of Yorktown which sealed the fate of the Independence of the United States.
1. Comte de Broglie
2. Baron Johan de Kalb
3. Pasajes de San Juan
4. Charleston, South Carolina, June 13, 1777
5. Major Benjamin Huber
6. General George Washington
7. The Battle of the Brandywine
8. Valley Forge
9. Comte de Rochambeau
Laurent Coq - piano and compositions (1-3-5-7-9)
Walter Smith III - saxophone and compositions (2-4-6-8-10)
Joe Sanders - acoustic and electric basses
Damion Reid - drums
Recorded at Tedesco Studios, NJ, on September 1 & 2, 2014. Mixed and mastered at Avatar Studios, NY, on September 18 & 19. Tracking, mixing and mastering by Katsuhiko Naito.