The Same As It Never Was Before

SSC3088 2011-07-12

Track List

So We Are - 3:22
You And I - 6:20
Godspeed - 2:15
United - 6:41
Haunting By Now - 6:09
Habiba (Intro) - 5:11
Habiba - 7:44
Free For Three - 4:41
Light Upon Rita - 10:57
Everything Happens To Me - 6:28


Stephane Belmondo - flugelhorn, shells
Kirk Lightsey - piano
Sylvain Romano - acoustic bass
Billy Hart - drums
Stephane Belmondo - trumpet

"It's been a long time since we heard Stephane Belmondo play like this. It might even be the first time. Of course, there was the wonderful Wonderland in 2004, his first album as a leader, but that tribute to Stevie Wonder, one of his many idols, showed only one side of the trumpeter's talent. There have been rumours that Stephane Belmondo is something of a monolith among musicians; on the contrary, he is no such thing. His connections are multiple, his inspiration varied, and his references go far beyond the boundaries between genres, all to the advantage of a single, generous notion: Music. So, The Same As It Never Was Before marks a turning-point: it allows us to hear Stephane Belmondo the way he sees himself today, after several decades of adventures in music that have documented his involvement in a considerable number of projects in a very wide range of styles. A fairer thing to say would be that, with The Same As It Never Was Before, another history is beginning. It's the story of a man who, while remaining faithful to his loves, has the ambition to show what he feels now.
And so the paradoxically-sounding title of his new album is in fact an aesthetic leitmotiv, not a simple pose. Everyone who has ever come close to Stephane Belmondo knows that he's no poser. It's enough for him to put his lips to a trumpet or bugle, and the music speaks for itself. The music flows naturally, with a rigour that avoids all facility; his breathing gives the music poetry and that je-ne-sais-quoi which belongs only to the greatest: a sound you can recognize a mile away, a sensitivity that caresses the surface of his horn, inflexions in his phrasing that reflect the intimacy of his soul... in short, a breath, like the one they say blows through all great works. This musician tells the truth. The Same As It Never Was Before… This is the Stephane Belmondo we all admire, an inspired soloist, by turns flamboyant and delicate, in an environment that suits him well: the quartet, a format in which he has all the freedom he needs to express what he feels. The Same As It Never Was Before… In which we discover a new facet of Stephane Belmondo: someone who lets the least expected inspirations come to him, and gives music the chance to blossom forth from an improvised accident. Its virtuosity is less of a fascination than the sound; it's less the precision of the note than the colours that spring from his palette of timbres, where conch shells can blow alongside trumpet and bugle. This is jazz, of course, but a jazz open to Africa, pop, Motown soul, the ethno-free of Don Cherry, childhood melodies, classical reminiscences... The Same As It Never Was Before: the same, but transformed, in life as in art, still just as captivating, still just as moving. Haunting by now, as the last track on the record so aptly underlines."


Nice review in the Nov. 2011 issue of JazzTimes!

Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes - November 2011 read the full article