La diversite is a recording of our time: is it a statement or a comment by tenor saxophonist Nicolas Kummert? Most definitely. The reputation of his native Belgium has been hijacked by Islamic fundamentalists, and their philosophy of hate couldn’t be more alien to his.
Celebrated for his versatility as a saxophonist and his openness to a plenitude of influences outside Europe (he has collaborated with African singers and both house and hip hop DJs), Kummert has also toured extensively in Martinique and Turkey.
At just 17, he collaborated with musicians from Senegal and Mali, and arising from a recording session with Patrick Ruffino, he joined forces with Lionel Loueke, omnipresent on the 14 tracks of la diversite.
The playing by both here is sumptuous, especially on We’ll Be Alright and And What If We’re Not? although Nicolas Thys on bass and Karl Jannuska have the honour with Rainbow People of labouring la diversite into the light.
There isn’t a misplaced or weak track in this collection, though it’s advisable to fast forward to We’ll Be Alright to savour the efflorescence of Kummert’s sonic solo and the terrific interplay with Loueke: the flip side, And What If We’re Not ? is gentler and acoustic, repeating the earlier refrain of We’ll Be Alright. Existentialist jazz? Yeah, why not.
Elsewhere, there is an abundance of quality, including two innovative but truly jazz interpretations of Hallelujah, (one long and lone short) recorded in memory of Leonard Cohen.
Lighthouse shows the quartet as its most sensitive, while Satie’s Gnossienne and Gnossienne a deux are a reminder of the accessibility within paramater-less jazz for experimental classic compositions composed in free time.
Like Hallelujah, the opening notes are instantly recognisable, and then Kummert takes the rhythm and chordal structure and puts his own indelible and frankly gorgeous stamp on them.