Darkly ruminating on “the duality between kings and bastards... kings turn into bastards, bastards into kings... in this music, gentleness alternates with viciousness” as the label copywriter explains what on earth is going on, a tad obliquely it must be pointed out, Kings and Bastards the very same and pretty fantastic new Roberto Negro record, health and safety warning first up, could well blow your mind.
Just released and much less sweary than you might pause to consider by the Italian label Camjazz famed for its Kenny Wheeler and Enrico Pieranunzi records and one of the very few labels anywhere capable of stealing ECM’s thunder by the sheer quality of its output rooted in an unerring avant chamber jazz spirit the interview above, even if your French remains largely at a wine bottle-label reading level only, is eminently navigable and yes on one level, big up the very earnest interviewer, a bit of a hoot.
Live, last year witnessed by marlbank in a marvellous trio setting involving Monsieur N et les autres, with Negro were cellist Valentin Ceccaldi and drummer Sylvain Darrifourq, they were easily the best thing admittedly in a grim year that I heard in a very, very long time when they materialised in east London on a short tour during which they also found time to trip up to visit our friends in the north.
Here Negro is tout seul and off the scale, such facility and tonal anarchy pressed into action as startling as frogs falling out of a Magnolia sky. If you are into Elliot Galvin, Matthew Bourne, or the imaginatively fertile theatrical side of Django Bates a big hello and welcome to a fabulous très agréable wonderworld.