The Kandinsky Effect (SNP Records)

The Kandinsky Effect

Released January 1, 2010

All About Jazz The Most Exciting Jazz Albums Since 1969



A saxophonist, composer, educator and producer based Paris, France, Warren Walker was raised in the rural Northern California gold rush town of Grass Valley. He became enamored with music at a young age, and by his early teens he was performing on jazz and blues gigs with his guitarist father, Thomas Walker.

Walker earned a BM from the University of Nevada, Reno’s rigorous jazz program, where he studied with stellar musicians like Peter Epstein, David Ake, Hans Halt, Andy Heglund, and Larry Engstrom. After graduation, Walker lit out for Europe to pursue his career as a musician.One of only three musicians worldwide selected to perform at the Faenza International Saxophone Festival, he parlayed the prestigious gig into a three-week tour of central Italy. In February 2007, he settled in Paris, France and quickly forged ties with some of that city’s most adventurous players, including French/Ecuadorian bassist Gaël Petrina. In Paris, Walker formed the Warren Walker Trio(renamed The Kandinsky Effect), and began performing and touring internationally with it and other projects, forging his reputation as a rising star in the European Jazz Scene.

Track Listing:

1. Intro to Sad Novi 01:35

2. Sad Novi 04:11

3. Photo Book 06:30

4. Paaterns 04:03

5. Girl/Boy Song [Aphex Twin] 03:13

6. Derniere Demarque 02:46

7. New Year’s Day 06:25

8. Billy Pilgrim 02:55

9. Penguin Parade/So Po Mo Mo 04:14 

10. Le Mec 02:25

11. Melodica 01:04

12. Flow 06:33


Warren Walker: saxophone & effects

Gael Petrina: upright & electric bass

Gautier Garrigue: drums

Recorded May 15 – 17, 2009, at Basel, Switzerland


What do you get when you combine an American saxophonist, a self-proclaimed “total gringo” bassist and a French drummer, playing progressive jazz in Europe? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. But The Kandinsky Effect, composed of Warren Walker (saxophone), Gael Petrina (acoustic and electric bass) and Gautier Garrigue (drums), sure as heck blow the roof off the joint trying to figure it out for themselves.
The group’s self-titled release finds it turning a number of seeming roadblocks into advantages, creating an organic, forward-thinking record. First and foremost, despite (or maybe because of) their disparate backgrounds, all three musicians are on the same page, and their communication on this record borders on the telepathic. Though the album is relatively through-composed, just listen to “Flow,” the aptly titled closing track. Petrina starts off with a complicated ostinato bass line on acoustic. Garrigue quickly joins him and they’re off to the races. Walker enters soon afterwards, unhurried even as he catches up to the pace set by the rhythm section. Abruptly, the band flows into a second, darker section, leading to a Walker solo. Flying up and down the register of his horn, Walker achieves Chris Potter—like tension and release. But make no mistake, he is merely following the beat set by Petrina, whose bass is ever-present. Walker then lays out, leading to a short composed section and a Garrigue solo accompanied by Petrina.

Remarkably, in the middle of the solo, both players halve the tempo at the same exact moment, and then pick up again. A blip on the radar screen, but something only two simpatico players at their most in-the-moment could have accomplished. The rest of the tune devolves into a series of echoes and electronic effects backed by Garrigue’s staunch groove, before returning to the original quick theme. The group’s single mind is able to make what could very easily be a complicated listen into 6:34 of bliss.
Then there is the instrumentation. Saxophone, bass and drums is a notoriously difficult idiom with which to keep listeners interested. But it’s the variations on the traditional trio that make this album one that listeners will return to time and again. Walker’s use of effects, both through his saxophone and otherwise, is new and different but always tasteful, while Petrina’s electric bass proves quite refreshing. With spare instrumentation such as this, the tendency is often to overplay in order to fill the void, but at no point does The Kandinsky Effect try to do too much. The group stays well within its capabilities and lets the compositions speak for themselves.
Finally, there is the place. All three musicians are based in Paris, and the album was recorded in Basel, Switzerland. Neither city is exactly a world-renowned jazz hub. The location, however, proves liberating. There is no pressure on the group to conform to blues-based, American jazz expectations. For sure, The Kandinsky Effect are steeped in blues tradition. Just listen to “New Year’s Day” and revel in its dark funk. But The Kandinsky Effect succeeds because of its ability to combine the diverse influences of the bandmembers into a coherent whole. Case in point: there is only a single cover on the album, “Girl/Boy Song” by Aphex Twin, the electronica pioneers.
The Kandinsky Effect is an album that can be appreciated on many levels—a cursory listen is perfect as conversation-starting background music at a Parisian soirée, while a closer listen rewards listeners with moments such as the halving of tempo in “Flow” described above. Walker, Petrina and Garrigue will continue to be heard from as they develop their individual and collective sounds.

David Miller (All About Jazz)