The ultra-pink cover art on Sidony Box’s second release could peg the artist as a dance-pop diva. In fact, Sidony Box is an all-male trio from France that delivers aggressive, uncompromising jazz with a rock edge. The opportunity to record on the Naïve label was the group’s reward for winning a competition at the 2010 Jazz à Vienne festival, and the musicians took full advantage of the state-of-the-art studio. Often ferocious and sometimes pastoral, the group’s amalgam of free jazz, heavy metal and guitar atmospherics is both intense and unpredictable.
Sidony Box consists of alto saxophonist Elie Dalibert, guitarist Manuel Adnot and drummer Arthur Narcy ― twentysomethings from Nantes, a city of 800,000 in western France. The band’s invention and energy invite comparisons to the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Soil and Pimp Sessions, and The Bad Plus, although this bunch seem more earnest. Cheekiness isn’t part of their equation, but a deep passion is.
The players have diverse musical interests — Dalibert is a pure jazzer, Adnot favors experimental rock and Narcy is into trance — but all tree share a love of heavy metal. That inclination is most evident in the thrashing intensity of “TMNT,” the brooding track “Wilson” and the crunching climax to “Tatooine.” These tunes constitute a kind of raw punk jazz marked by an unbridled urgency.
The absence of a bass player opens up plenty of space, and the trio doesn’t just fill it with tumultuous jazz-rock. The opener, “Last Star,” soars with Methenyesque grace, while the closer, “Ultimate Pop Song,” boasts a contemplative, Frisell-like melody. Least interesting are a couple of airy ECM-like cuts featuring Adnot’s guitar effects.
Sidony Box calls itself a “jazz power trio.” The music could also be categorized as fusion, but it shows an experimental streak and a fresh feistiness.
— Ed Kopp