The Sixth Jump

Benoît Delbecq Trio


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Piano innovator Benoit Delbecq and bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel stretch the boundaries of the jazz trio format in a set of original compositions powered by the unpredictable grooves of drummer Emile Biayenda.
– Mark Werlin

Celebrated in France, and named “one of the avatars of the prepared piano” by Jazz Times, Benoît Delbecq continued to advance and refine his approach with The Sixth Jump, his first trio album.

Its pleasures are many: a fantastic array of prepared sounds, turning hammers and strings into a percussion orchestra while not neglecting the conventional resources of a beautiful-sounding 92-key Bosendorfer; intense yet supple polyrhythmic improvisations built up in interlocking layers and cycles and woven together with the bass and drums; and a distinctive melodic/tonal sense that balances consonance and dissonance with the timbral shifts of the preparations in many intriguing ways.

His work shows a deep connection with both the modern jazz piano lineage (Monk, Waldron, Ibrahim etc.) and elements of the classical avant-garde (particularly Cage, Messiaen and Ligeti), and combines these influences and others such as pygmy polyphony into a truly unique style. This is music that readily communicates on a physical and often an emotional level but reveals ever-more-subtle aspects as you get to know it.

A word about Benoît’s collaborators here: bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel, known for his work with Steve Lacy, was also a kora player, a passionate advocate of traditional Manding music, and for many years led his own West African group in Paris (Waraba, Songlines). Avenel and Paris-based Congolese drummer Emile Biayenda set up wonderfully unpredictable grooves. The trio meshes not just rhythmically but timbrally, as Benoît describes: “Emile and Jean-Jacques both have a magnificent sound, they are masters, a source of inspiration. What I love in the alchemy created by Emile and Jean-Jacques is their relation in the hierarchy of cycles, it is very free, very intuitive. The timbres create other cycles, subterranean cycles, the effect obtained is mysterious.” In this trio Biayenda uses two snare drums and two gourds, and an ankle shaker is attached to the bass drum.

Another notable feature are Steve Argüelles’ remixes (“Drum Page”, “Piano Page”, “Bass Page”). Using material from the trio multi-tracks, they examine the three instruments individually with a kind of improvisational spirit; Benoît calls them “rather cinema-like, these sorts of elliptical narrations.”


Benoît Delbecq Trio
Benoît Delbecq, Piano
Jean-Jacques Avenel, Bass
Emile Biayenda, Drums & Percussion


Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Poursuite / Drum Page
Letter to György L.
Piano Page
Le même jour
Le sixième saut
Pointe de la courte dune / Bass Page

Total time: 00:50:56

Additional information





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Mastered by Graemme Brown at Zen Mastering, Vancouver


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Original Recording Format

Recording Location

Recorded July 12-13, 2008, and mixed, at la Muse en Circuit, Alfortville, France.

Recording & Mixing Engineer

Etienne Bultingaire

Release DateApril 12, 2024

Press reviews

Exposé Online

Piano trios can be a gnarly musical beast. In the case of pianist Delbecq, trio pieces transpire in real time, with a quiet classy reserve that gently tugs the listener through subtle changes. (…) Overall the disc represents a strong beacon of light on collective improvisation.

All About Jazz

The Sixth Jump amplifies Delbecq’s skills as an empathic leader whose inventive thematic explorations are woven in spontaneous interaction with his mates. He is a success in his new format, but this is not surprising given his proven ability to strike the right mood and chord in other settings.

New York Times

A thoughtful chill runs through the music of Benoît Delbecq, a French pianist of investigative temperament and crystalline technique…He has traveled a mixed continuum of modern jazz, indigenous folk and contemporary classical, without getting hung up on orthodoxy. There’s a ton of compressed energy in his playing, but he projects an unflappable calm. Mr. Delbecq has two new albums, both excellent reflections on his musical identity… They share an air of relaxed intricacy and matter-of-fact experimentation, coming across as neither precious nor arcane. The solo album [Circles and Calligrams] is partly a showcase for Mr. Delbecq’s piano preparations, manual tweaks to the instrument, using erasers and pieces of wood, that put a range of expressive timbre at his fingertips…On ‘Letter to György L.’ (for Ligeti, naturally) the sympathetic, patient rapport of the musicians brings cool clarity to some dissonant ideas. A lot of the joy in that rapport derives from African polyrhythm, a specialty for all of the musicians onboard. Mr. Biayenda’s drumming, deftly incorporating shakers and gourds, makes that connection clearly but with subtlety. Mr. Avenel is no less crucial, often shaping counterpoint in ways that suggest Malian kora music. But the flow of the trio, as governed by Mr. Delbecq, is modern, even sleek. It says something that this album includes several remixes, by Steve Arguelles, that fit quite seamlessly into the whole.

All About Jazz New York

Luminous harmony, intellectual rigor, and modernist piano technique…a forward-thinking musician…


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