Matthieu Saglio, Voices Review
Exploring ‘Voices’: A Fusion of Jazz and World Music Influences
by Stamish Malcuss
Matthieu Saglio, the visionary French cellist, is releasing his latest endeavor with Voices. Joined by his quartet of Saglio, cello, and vocals; Steve Shehan, percussion and drums; Christian Belhomme, piano and keyboards Léo Ullmann, violin. In addition, there is a lineup of guest vocalists from diverse corners of the world. Together they bring forth a musical experience that transcends boundaries and follows in the footsteps of his previous critically acclaimed work, El Camino de los Vientos (2020), which took listeners on a captivating musical odyssey through the Mediterranean, Africa, and Asia. In just three years, tracks from El Camino de los Vientos have accumulated over 7 million plays on Spotify alone.
Now, with Voices, Saglio builds upon this successful momentum as his quartet collaborates with various vocalists to demonstrate the power of voices and the richness of his cello. Saglio’s ambition is “to pay tribute to the voices of the world, of men, women, of all ages, of all languages… the voice as the essence of humanity…which at the same time brings people together and unifies them.” The album’s vocalists are Susana Baca, Alim Qasimov, Natacha Atlas, Nils Landgren, Wasis Diop, Anna Colom, Camille Saglio, and Vega Tomás.
The opening track, “Madiba,” establishes an idealistic tone, envisioning a society where people coexist in harmony and equal opportunities, featuring a poignant recording of Nelson Mandela’s words: “A democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.” “I was really happy to open this album with Mandela’s words,” says Saglio., creating a harmonious fusion that transcends cultural boundaries. The blending of the different nationalities of the various vocalists makes a dynamic and world-music-inspired sound, particularly evident during the choir sections. Saglio’s cello solo exhibits a fluid and lyrical quality, seamlessly transitioning into an exquisite solo by Ullmann.
Each collaboration on “Voices” yields its own rewards. Susana Baca, a seasoned Peruvian vocalist, infuses Saglio’s “Ponte un Alma” with profound significance and resonance. Egyptian-Belgian singer Natacha Atlas contributes her own lyrical prowess to the enchanting and hypnotic “Amâl.” Flamenco singer Anna Colom casts a captivating spell in “Divina Tormenta” with her Spanish translation of Paul Verlaine’s poem, “Green.” Senegalese legend Wasis Diop delivers an intensely rhythmic speech-singing commentary in “Temps Modernes,” showcasing a unique art form. Including Azerbaijani legend Alim Qasimov fulfills one of Saglio’s impossible dreams, while Nils Landgren’s exceptional musicianship and poetic lyrics on Saglio’s composition leave an indelible impression. Even Saglio’s own family contributes to the album, with his younger brother Camille’s countertenor and voice-trumpet timbres gracing “Irta” with musical freedom and a sense of brotherly affection.
Saglio once again demonstrates his ability to transform seemingly impossible dreams into tangible musical realities with Voices. His compositions serve as vehicles for diverse and powerful musical personalities worldwide to express themselves authentically through the human voice. Saglio’s unwavering determination and vivid imagination combine to present a fusion of jazz with global sounds and vocal traditions, adding depth and texture to the overall musical landscape of the album. As he eloquently puts it, “I believe in dreams, and I run after them.”