April 18, 2020
John Eats Bacon with Francis in the Cage
SLAM CD 2111
Clément Janinet – O. U. R. S.
Gigantonium GIG 012OUR2
Futurist takes on the violin-reed-rhythm section paradigm that has been used by canny improvisers since the Hot Club of France expanded and fiddlers like Eddie South or Stuff Smith organized combos. Not that Irene Kepl of Perlin Noise or Clément Janinet is an ace string wizard like Stéphane Grappelli, Smith or South. But the nonpareil urbanity each brings to John Eats Bacon with Francis in the Cage or DANSE posits distinctive comportment for the string player during the program. Kepl’s manifold skills join with the five players of Perlin Noise in creating expansive orchestral colors, while Janinet’s O. U. R. S. contributions add an overlay of dervish-like abandon to the other disc.
O. U. R. S. stands for Ornette under the Repetitive Skies, Bur while the 13-track CD builds on the fundamental dance-like rhythms pioneered by many of Ornette Coleman’s bands and compositions, the French quartet (plus) adds an application of Steve Reich’s repetitive minimalism and currents of joyous Continental folk themes. This virtuosity is paramount despite, or perhaps because of, the group members’ conservatory training and experiences. The violinist, who composed most of the tracks, has been involved in the creation of musical theatre, playing African and South American music and improvising with the likes of Ramon Lopez and Magic Malik. Saxophonist/clarinetist Hugues Mayot has worked with ensembles as different as Marc Ducret’s, and the Orchestre National de Jazz. Bassist Joachim Florent is in both Mayot’s bands and this one, percussionist Emmanuel Scarpa is a respected rhythm player and trombonist Yves Robert, featured on four tracks, is a veteran Gallic improviser.
While Robert’s slurry emphasis is present elsewhere, its major application is in the concluding “Steve Reich in Babylon” and the preceding “En Attendant Steve”. Creating pastel adornments from swift plunger work, he helps birth a polyphonic swing grove alongside sizzling sul ponticello strokes from Janinet and dynamic thumps from Scarpa. While the fiddler and Mayot on clarinet propel swaths of bouncing string glissandi and horizontal reed swaggers on some of the more traditionally oriented material like the giveaway titled “Polka” and “Quiet Waltz”, which are respectively a foot tapper and a solemn elaboration, expressive modernism serves them better. “Désarticulé”, with low-pitched detuned violin triple-stroking and a bouncing drum beat evolves from a pseudo TV crime show soundtrack to quicksilver group sizzles. ‘Dans la tête” is another potential film theme with Mayot’s breathy mid-range tenor saxophone twisting and turning through the exposition as Janinet slices and shudders spicatto inferences beside him. And no matter how folksy the harmonized chalumeau-register clarinet and stopping sweeps from the violin are on “Avec le cou” the horizontal narrative is fattened with Balkan-style dance references at the end without losing its essential modernism.
Modernism could be the key description of Perlin Noise, for as early as “Barocco”, the first track, Baroque inflections are quickly superseded by a polyphonic pulse including swing-Jazz piano riffs, emphasized string sweeps and swirling horns. A Vienna-centred aggregation with EU-aspirations, all the quintet’s tracks were composed by Sicilian bassist Alessandro Vicard, who moves among noted , Pop and improvised music, with the likes of Michael Fischer and Didi Kern. Pianist Villy Paraskevopoulos has transplanted himself from Athens to the Austrian capital, which is where Austrian violinist Irene Kepl who plays with George Cremaschi as well as this group’s drummer Mark Holub, a Led Bib member, also resides. Alto saxophonist Stephanie Schoiswohl is also part of the Grazias Saxophone & Flute Quintet.
Despite these notated music credentials and in spite of euphonious motifs in some of John Eats Bacon with Francis in the Cage’s five tracks, this is no Third Stream attempt. Instead melodic underpinnings snake through the tunes while concurrently the soloists’ breaks and detours move the sequences into the realm of pure improvisation and/or reflections of other sounds. For example Holub’s dramatically shaped patterns and pulses on “Melodia” give way to a low-pitched violin-piano showcase that could be a mini-concerto. In contrast the title tune’s exposition is scattered among Rock, Swing and march inferences that ratchet at 78 rpm of silent-movie-frame speeds. Most characteristically, Vicard’s walking bass thumps contrast enough with Kepl’s high-pitched spiccato stops on “Cellula” to suggest both gypsy Jazz and layered ensemble coloring until the tune climaxes with downward sliding concurrence.
As erudite as they are entertaining, these bands have convincingly positioning this instrumentation within the creative music framework.
Track Listing: John: 1. Barocco 2. Il moto die corpi 3. Cellula 4. John eats Bacon with Francis in the Cage 5. Melodia
Personnel: John: Stephanie Schoiswohl (alto saxophone); Irene Kepl (violin); Villy Paraskevopoulos (piano); Alessandro Vicard (bass) and Mark Holub (drums)
Track Listing: DANSE: 1. Une Ronde 2. Un Pas de 4 3. Dans le Sol 4. Dans la tête 5. Avec le cou 6. Désarticulé 7. Pourquoi pas?*8. Horizontal*9. Polka 10. Tournons 11. Quiet Waltz 12. En Attendant Steve*13. Steve Reich in Babylon*
Personnel: DANSE: Yves Robert (trombone)*; Hugues Mayot (clarinet, bass clarinet and tenor saxophone); Clément Janinet (violin, tenor violin and detuned violin); Joachim Florent (bass) and Emmanuel Scarpa (drums and percussion)