Michael Benita’s 2010 album Ethics has a rich and in places cinematic feel and sound, but is best described as a creative fusion of prog rock, blues, jazz and world music. One that provides a joyous and rewarding musical journey in the company of some highly able and original musicians, playing graceful avant garde. This unusual group is led by French bass player Michel Benita, a musician who started his musical career in the eighties and who has collaborated with Erik Truffaz, Archie Shepp, Bobo Stenson and Rita Marcotulli to name but a few. On Ethics he pulls off the trick of making the avant garde melodious, in places (‘Ishidatami’) he even manages to conjure music that could have been written by Bach.
Ethics also offers the most amazing jazz performance played on a koto harp. Mieko Miyazaki does for this Japanese instrument what Ravi Shankar has done for the sitar. The strings of this instrument make a beautiful sound that is reminiscent of both south American music and jazz guitar. Miyazaki plays alongside Matthieu Michel who has in the past collaborated with Richard Galliano, his flugelhorn sounds like classical music. Drums are played by Phillipe Garcia and special effects and guitar are provided by Eivind Aarset, none of these musicians are world famous but all are able to delight and impress in equal measure.
In addition to the music, this album is one of the best recordings I have heard for a long while. The quality is incredible, sumptuous with bass that gently moves and shakes the room in which it is being played. Ethics is a must have album that’s filled with grace and musical wonderment, highly recommended.
Standout track: ‘Blue Jay Way’