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Swiss-born Gregoire Maret is a chromatic harmonica virtuoso who rolled into town for this season's inaugural Art Power concert last night at The Loft.

Leading a band loaded with ringers like bassist Matt Penman, pianist Federico Gonzalez Pena, and powerhouse drummer Clarence Penn, Maret delivered a set long on melody that was best served when the rhythm reached a simmer.

Opening with the sprawling three part, "Crepuscule Suite," atmospheric keyboard washes eventually birthed a hypnotic wood-block groove and a beautiful electric bass spot from Penman--who brought Mark Egan to mind. Maret gets a gorgeous sound on his instrument--and the band demonstrated some serious dynamic abilities--including a breathtaking whisper-quiet passage. Pena built a super-melodic statement on the grand piano before Maret got busy with a horn-like solo that dropped a few jaws in the process. Throughout it all--Penn's remarkable trap-set work kept everything flowing.

The band played one standard, Gershwin's, "The Man I Love," which conjured up some drama when Maret's heavily reverbed instrument tore though a series of scales and arpeggios after a superb solo bass introduction by Penman, on upright this time.

They saved the best for last: on the penultimate tune, "Lucilla's Dream," Maret got crazy (in a good way), crouching at the knees--blowing like a speed-demon and locking in with the explosive drums of Penn--who got a chance to really let loose on the final piece with a solo powerful enough to rattle the glasses on our table.

Photo by Brian Ross

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