Florian Favre “Dernière Danse”

Florian FavreYou get the sense Florian Favre is wringing as much out of some wood, metal strings, hammers, pedals and keys as he can. Using what he refers to as, ‘his first love’, the grand piano, he works melodies in with rhythmic punches, varying qualities of tone and a rich variety of ideas. His solo album, Dernière Danse (A-Nuk) is an engaging listen and shows off his clear talent and skills, although that could be a point of criticism too.

He has a wonderfully mournful touch
The tracks I favour are those where Florian is getting into a melancholic mood, as in the title track. Maybe it’s the ‘last dance’ in a romantic sense – but as if the affair is over, not beginning. The tempo perfectly captures a dragging feeling of loss, and he broodily uses the deeper end of the piano whilst tinkling high notes almost try to soothe it. ‘Träume Einer Wachspuppe’ (‘Dreams of a Wax Doll’) is just as touching whilst again using this tension between the two ends of a piano to weave a strange and evocative atmosphere. He has a wonderfully mournful touch.

“It was a nice brain training”
When I first met Favre he talked excitedly about his ideas of creating dance-like beats on the piano at the same time as musical tunes. These ideas formed when he was the only member of a backing ‘band’ for a pop singer. Favre says, “I tried the challenge to ‘split the keyboard’ into many different functions, having the end three fingers of my left hand playing bass and the other two playing drum, while my right hand was playing the harmony and melody. It was a nice brain training.” You can hear this clearly when he does a brief cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s ‘Let’s Groove’ – it’s clever but doesn’t touch me like his original compositions do.

Florian’s timing is impeccable
He can definitely pen a tune, as ‘Jambo’ and ‘Comme de J’aimeu’ testify. The latter uses delicate harpsichord stabs to create an unusual texture underneath the bluesy melody. Again Florian’s timing is impeccable, and with his original twists of melody he makes the piece captivating whilst allowing for groove, swing, and feeling. ‘Oh Lord’ expands on his ability to play southern-style blues and I love the drunken and warped ‘Interlude: The Lonely Turntable’ – it reminds me (in a positive way) of the 1970s English comedian, Les Dawson who crafted sophisticated off-key versions of classics. Florian used a quarter-tone piano to create the effect.

In fact throughout the whole of this album there is a sense of exploration, fun and playfulness. It’s just better when he invests a spirituality as opposed to the moments when I feel there is focus on technique. Florian’s trio recently played a coveted gig at Jazzahead, the huge ‘jazz trade fair’ in Bremen, and when Joshua Redman heard him play in Zurich he asked him to join his band onstage for a jam. There is no doubt that this is a musician to watch for – his passion and emotion when he plays are obvious, and that can count for a lot.

Florian Favre, Last Dance, Label ANUK

Link for next concerts

 

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