|François Moutin & Kavita Shah Duo’s Interplay is an improvisational journey across lyric-driven and wordless pieces alike. Together, Moutin and Shah embrace virtuosity, spontaneity, and lyricism through a repertoire of standards and original music adapted to the unique instrumentation of acoustic bass and voice. The album, recorded at Sear Sound Studios in New York and Le Studio de Meudon in Paris, features 11 tracks ranging from classics like Édith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose” to instrumental songs like Dafnis Prieto’s “Blah Blah” to original compositions by Shah and Moutin. Interplay was released in February 2018 on Dot Time Records.
Interplay also includes the participation of two jazz legends: French pianist Martial Solal, 90, who has hired Moutin in his trio for the past three decades, and NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan, 89, a longtime mentor of Shah, whom she met, serendipitously, on the subway. Solal is featured on two of his compositions: the wordless “Coming Yesterday” and the gorgeous ballad “Aigue Marine,” set to lyrics penned by Shah. Jordan, considered to be the pioneer of bass-and-voice duets, lends her voice to Lorenz & Hart’s “Falling in Love With Love” and Horace Silver’s “Peace,” a song she once taught Shah.
“There’s a nakedness to playing duo that forces expression, I think,” says Moutin. “I love playing trio and quartet and quintet stuff, but I’ve done a lot of that in my life, and I thought I was at that point where I needed to explore more, not only of my instrument, but also of my personality, and be at risk.” He met Shah in 2014 while playing with trumpeter Amir ElSaffar. When Shah joined the band for a freely improvised encore, Moutin was struck not only by her singing, but also by her fearlessness. Later that night, he approached her about playing duets.
Shah, who was previously aware of Moutin’s playing, saw this bare-bones format as an opportunity to return to her jazz roots, but also as a challenge: “What would I do if I am just myself?” she questioned. “If I am just my voice, an imperfect human-being voice, and I’m here singing a standard? It was kind of this feeling of, ‘I want to be radically myself.’ And I think that means something, of course, in the times we’re living in.”
FRANÇOIS MOUTIN (www.moutin.com
), a virtuosic bassist, was born in Paris and received a doctorate in physics at the age of 24 before choosing to become a professional musician. He has been a member of the Martial Solal Trio for three decades and, since age 29, has co-led a string of projects with his twin brother Louis, most noticeably the Moutin Reunion Quartet and the presently active Moutin Factory Quintet. He regularly composes and tours regularly with this group around Europe & the United States. He has performed at every important European Jazz Festival and toured in more than 30 countries around the world. In addition, François has worked with such musicians as: Jean-Michel Pilc, André Ceccarelli, Antoine Hervé, Randy Brecker, Dave Liebman, Toots Thielemans, James Moody, Terri Lyne Carrington, Michel Legrand, Birelli Lagrene, Jimmy Heath, Monty Alexander, Lew Soloff, Billy Hart, Ari Hoenig, Dave Binney, Adam Rogers, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Vijay Iyer, Amir El Saffar and Jack DeJohnette.
KAVITA SHAH (www.kavitashahmusic.com) is a vocalist, composer, and lifelong New Yorker who makes work in deep engagement with the jazz idiom while addressing and advancing its global sensibilities. Hailed by NPR for possessing an “amazing dexterity for musical languages,” Kavita incorporates her ethnographic work on Latin American, West African, and South Asian traditions into her music. Not unlike François, Kavita studied Romance Languages & Literatures at Harvard before pursuing a Master’s in jazz voice at Manhattan School of Music. In 2012, she was named Best Graduate Vocalist by Downbeat; in 2013, she won ASCAP’s Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award. Her 2014 debut VISIONS, co-produced by Lionel Loueke, was released to great critical acclaim, and her Park Avenue Armory premiere “Folk Songs of Naboréa” was named a Top 10 jazz concert of 2017 by Nate Chinen. Shah regularly performs her music at major concert halls, festivals, and clubs on six continents.