Jean-Marie Machado has always had a taste for gateways, boundaries crossings and musical adventure. One look (or rather one listening…) at his discography, if necessary, is enough to be won over, since the trio that saw him burst onto the stage up to ‘Impulse Songs’, ‘Vibracordes’, ‘La Fête à Bobby’, ‘Andaloucia’, ‘Fiesta Nocturna’, and many other transmutations. His confidence shines in the way he describes himself as an ‘explorer of musical worlds’, and the musical outcome is enough to finish persuading us. ‘Pictures for Orchestra’ (a record today but previously a concert programme) is a kind of accomplishment of this particularly atypical and transversal journey for the ‘Danzas Orchestra’, a flexible ensemble of consistent quality. Besides the quality of the writing, what is striking at first are the outstanding performers: exceptional instrumentalists, high-flying musicians and improvisers well accustomed to the extensive possibilities of music. But, of course, such an inspiring project attracts talents, as is the case here beyond the most legitimate expectations. The music spreads its wings among different worlds: with the memory of Robert Schumann, and also of the concert performer Catherine Collard, with whom Jean-Marie Machado studied; elsewhere it’s a whiff of the Balkans, or the madness of flutes and rhythms that takes us further East; or even, towards the West, a world a la Piazzola reminiscent of the meeting between the Argentinean composer and bandoneon player with the baritone saxophone player of Gerry Mulligan.
And track after track, a lyricism that would have felt at home during the Second Viennese School, then a burst of jazz magnified by the soprano sax, not to mention, furtively, a sort of concerto for orchestra that is quite a display of the composer-pianist’s love towards the talent of his partners. Indeed, Jean-Marie Machado did not claim the lion’s share of the repertoire, and although he allows himself two solitary episodes, it is fairly obvious that this adventure is, first of all, a collective one and that the composer gives considerable room to the soloists he knows are exceptional. This is what tends to dominate throughout the record: this music lovingly created, first of all, for a group, a personified group, inextricably linked to the artistic identity of its performers. In other words, like an ethic of musical creativity. And just like in other art forms, ethics often set up the power of aesthetics. (Xavier Prévost)