Recording information: Studio Val D'Orge, France (10/02/2008-10/03/2008).
Franck Avitabile has recorded frequently for European and Japanese labels, though his recordings have been sporadically distributed in the U.S. Paris Sketches is a collection of 13 originals, featuring the pianist with electric bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Manu Katche. One of the challenges of young artists who stick to originals for an entire CD is to compose one or more songs that leave a lasting impression. Avitabile is a talented composer, but no matter how enjoyable his compositions are, they seem to stay in the background rather than grabbing one's attention. There isn't really a bad track, but neither is one outstanding. Avitabile displays his chops without overplaying, while Palladino is one of the more reserved electric bassists, much like the late Charles Ables, long with Shirley Horn's trio, while Katche is equally at home with stick or brushes, adding just the right touch to every song. "Air" is a relaxing ballad, suggesting a lazy day on the beach. "Rewind" has a bit of a melancholy air, while "Four Roads" at times suggests the influence of French impressionists. Paris Sketches is a rewarding release, though the addition of one or two familiar songs might give listeners a better feel for Avitabile's gifts as an improviser and arranger. ~ Ken Dryden