When I see the word “try” my first thought is always the famous saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again”. Then there’s W. C. Fields’ rather more realistic and much more entertaining slant, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.”.

Even better, we might take a leaf out of Einstein’s book and choose a slightly different objective:

Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.

Albert Einstein

But, here we have “Try!” with a capital letter and an exclamation mark. And that changes the perspective once again. This time we have a curt command, or the triumphant exclamation of a commentator at a rugby match. Airelle Besson, though, may have had something else in mind when she chose to call her 2021 album, Try!. As an acronym, TRY stands for “time to reinvent yourself” – a particularly apt sentiment for the second of her albums as the leader of her own quartet.

Airelle Besson’s website describes her style as ‘between’. Between classical and jazz; between electronic and acoustic; between small ensembles and large orchestras. She cites her major influences as Bach and Keith Jarrett. Her trumpet lines play over acoustic piano and electronic keyboards. As well as leading her quartet, she has composed works for the Orchestre National de Metz and has worked with the Big Band de l’Union de Woippy (such a wonderful name, n’est ce pas?).

You will have gathered by now that Airelle is French. She graduated from the prestigious Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris in 2002. According to Linn Records, “she has twice been named Best French Musician of the Year by the French Django Reinhardt Award Academy and as Jazz Revelation of the Year at the French Award ceremony ‘Les Victoires du Jazz'”. And, if that isn’t recommendation enough, Ms. Besson has performed with Carla Bley, Henri Texier, Avishai Cohen and a variety of other well-known names in the broad field of jazz.

Airelle Besson’s quartet released their critically acclaimed debut album, Radio One, in 2016. Try! carries us forward from there with more of the band’s gentle jazz. The leader’s trumpet dances with Isabel Sörling’s voice in a lyrical duet. Benjamin Moussay provides both the harmonic bedrock and the counterpoint on piano, Fender Rhodes and bass synth. And the drums of Fabrice Moreau keep it all moving purposefully onwards. This ensemble is breaking new ground. Perhaps they are on the road to reinventing themselves, but they are in no hurry to get there.

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