Vibes star Simon Moullier again in S.F. fronting proficient quartet

Simon Moullier was decided to present New York Metropolis yet one more probability.

The French-born vibraphonist appeared to have all the things required for a profitable jazz profession. After graduating from Berklee School of Music, the place famend trumpeter and professor Darren Barrett made him a vital a part of a number of recording initiatives, Moullier earned a Grasp’s diploma from the elite Thelonious Monk Institute in 2018 whereas finding out with jazz legends Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Billy Childs.

Most significantly, Moullier, 29, had developed a particular voice on his instrument, a rhythmically assertive and melodically charged strategy that made him some of the thrilling younger vibraphonists on the scene.

However his telephone didn’t ring. For 2 years.

“I used to be placing in plenty of hours at dwelling,” stated Moullier, who moved again to Nantes in western France for the primary 18 months of the pandemic. “I put in much more hours working towards in Nantes. After I got here again to New York on the finish of  2021 I used to be like, let’s give this yet one more attempt.”

As a substitute of ready for calls, he made a degree of getting out on the scene and sitting in with different musicians at any time when attainable. Little by little he related with a few of his prodigiously proficient friends, together with the gamers who be a part of him for a four-night run at San Francisco’s Black Cat Might 25-28.

It’s the identical group of musicians featured on his just lately launched third album, “Isla,” with bassist Alexander Claffy, South Korean drummer Jongkuk Kim, and pianist Lex Korten. He’s hardly the one participant to have constructed a band round Kim and Korten, a prized rhythm part tandem employed for a whole bunch of gigs led by greater than a dozen bandleaders lately.

Kim and Moullier had been already tight, “and the second Simon moved again from France, JK was scheming to get me on the gig, too,” stated Korten, referring to Kim by his nickname.

Although raised in New York, Korten has shut household ties within the Bay Space, together with a grandfather who lives throughout the road from Stanford. The pianist grew up attending the Stanford Jazz Workshop, the place he got here beneath the wing of Taylor Eigsti, and returned as an grownup to function a Workshop counselor for a number of summers.

With expertise accompanying his era’s main vibraphonists, together with Joel Ross, Venezuelan-born Juan Diego Villalobos, and San Francisco-reared Sasha Berliner, Korten significantly admires the way in which Simon concentrates on calibrating a bunch sound.

“He’s dropped at the desk the concept of occupied with the timbre of devices working collectively in a unified manner,” Korten stated. “By locking in sure voicings on vibes and piano in the identical register it’s like we create a brand new instrument with a stupendous, resonant sound.”

Moullier’s engagement is his third run at Black Cat prior to now two years, however his most up-to-date look within the Bay Space was as a part of a very bold venture. In February Terri Lyne Carrington featured him as a soloist on vibes and marimba with the California premiere of her multimedia manufacturing “Seen/Unseen” on the SFJAZZ Middle.

An impressionistic homage to the struggles and energy of Black girls in the US, the venture featured the Del Sol String Quartet, a wind part, illustrious improvisers like flutist Elena Pinderhughes, trumpeter Etienne Charles, and pianist Orrin Evans, in addition to multidisciplinary artist Mickalene Thomas responding to the music with stay visuals through Minor Auditorium’s state-of-the-art projection system.

“It’s one lengthy piece, no half ever repeats,” Moullier stated. “I actually just like the idea, the story, the way in which that every one the drawings that Mickalene initiatives provides to the environment.”

Whereas Moullier is a pupil of his instrument, he’s a relative late-comer to the vibraphone. He began off finding out tympani in classical settings and drums in jazz and solely began specializing in vibes at 17. He’s studied the masters, significantly Bobby Hutcherson, “however I can’t say it’s a primary supply of inspiration,” he stated.

Quite, he’s centered on trumpeters, pianists, vocalists like Billie Vacation, Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra, Astrid Gilberto, “and saxophonists,” Moullier stated. “Coltrane is my primary affect in relation to enjoying melodies and solos.”

After giving New York one other shot, he’s nicely on his manner, although Moullier is conscious that vibraphonists are in a really totally different boat than pianists or bassists, who’re at all times in demand.

“It’s positively not an instrument that folks really feel they want as a lot as a bassist, so I’m working extra as a pacesetter than a sideman,” he stated. “I’ve to make strikes myself. The gigs I do get as a sideman I cherish.”

Contact Andrew Gilbert at jazzscribe@aol.com.


When & the place: By means of Might 28 at Black Cat, 400 Eddy St., San Francisco

Tickets: $25-$45; 415-385-1999, blackcatsf.com

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