Frantz Loriot/Manuel Perovic Notebook Large Ensemble

Urban Furrow
Clean Feed CF 338 CD

Frantz Loriot

Reflections on an Introspective Path

NeitherNor Records n/n 002

By Ken Waxman

Having relocated from NYC to Zürich, French-Japanese violist Frantz Loriot’s newest CDs explore with equal artistry two disparate but complementary facets of his work. Reflections on an Introspective Path is a solo session, where following the precedents of pioneers like Leroy Jenkins, the fiddler creates a microtonal recital which stretches his instrument’s timbral limits while discovering new sounds. Urban Furrow involves a 10-piece ensemble’s interpretations of Loriot’s compositions that manage to highlight swing and stridency in equal measures. Swiss arranger Manuel Perovic is an invaluable aide, having performed similar tasks for other orchestras.

Using staccato techniques that suggest he’s playing electrified wires not gut strings, Loriot’s solo velocity allows him to move across his string-set with timbres as angled as a spider’s movements and as sharp as that insect’s bite. At the same time, as on “Confluences - movement 2”, he creates washboard-like rubs with stolid bow pressure, in effect pushing multiphonics out from each excited string. Auxiliary experimentation leads to transformative strokes on “Equilibrium” where it seems as if two bows are in use to create the viola equivalent to tongue stops as well as pizzicato strums. A breathtaking climax consists of almost pure white noise. Countless scrapes and lacerations dominate the concluding “Attained” so that it could be that the violist is following Fluxus-like experiments to source new sounds by physically destroying his instrument. The preceding “Thwart Path” illuminates an inverse path as his harsh techniques soon transform into a chipper melody.

These melodic impulses are given a broader canvas on the other CD, with the shading supplied by Matthias Spillmann’s trumpet and flugelhorn; Silvio Cadotsch’s trombone; Sandra Weiss’s alto saxophone and bassoon; Joachim Badenhorst’s tenor saxophone and bass clarinet; Dave Gisler’s guitar; Deborah Walker’s cello and voice; Silvan Jeger's bass and voice and Yuko Oshima’s drums. Vocals are important since “To HR”, co-composed by Perovic, is a tuneful cabaret-style jeremiad backed by full band swing, though nearly sabotaged by Loriot’s ironic string asides. Perovic’s commanding arrangements segue Gil Evans-like among emphasized clashes and coddling quiet, smoothness and stings. For instance, “Division” lacerates a moderato saxophone solo with sul ponticello string scrapes, blending the atonality and story-telling into a positive end. “Waiting for Miss Weiss” is groove piece, where popping drums, clanking guitar and tenor sax snarks join to create a circus-music-like procession.

In contrast, “Blue Almonds” and “Echo”, cunningly balance Loriot’s precarious atonality with harmonic smarts so both have equal weight. Before it fades away into pre-recorded seashore sonority, “Blue Almonds” equalizes inner-piano explorations with a popping Latinesque drum beat, following horn yodels that shifts into a pleasing wordless-vocal section, spelled by sly note splaying from the violist. The orchestration of “Echo” is even more instructive. Beginning with circular breathing from Badenhorst’s bass clarinet, the theme shifts to Weiss’ bassoon, whose continuous chortling continuum works as a sound guard to prevent the other members’ harsher interjections from shredding the tuneful program.

Alone or within a group, Loriot demonstrates that he has what it takes compositionally and instrumentally to maintain a promising career.

Tracks: Reflections: Confluences - movement 1; Confluences - movement 2; Confluences - movement 3; Equilibrium; Wick Machine; Thwart Path; Attained

Personnel: Reflections: Frantz Loriot: viola,

Image: Reflections:

Tracks: Urban: West 4th; Division; To HR; Blue Almonds; Waiting for Miss Weiss; Echo

Personnel: Urban: Matthias Spillmann: trumpet, flugelhorn; Silvio Cadotsch: trombone; Sandra Weiss: alto saxophone, bassoon; Joachim Badenhorst: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Dave Gisler: guitar; Frantz Loriot: viola; Deborah Walker: cello, voice; Silvan Jeger: bass, voice; Yuko Oshima: drums; Manuel Perovic: arrangements, conducting

—For The New York City Jazz Record October 2015