Christian Pruvost / Natsuki Tamura / Satoko Fujii / Peter Orins

January 20, 2012


Circum-Libra Records 201

Jean-Luc Cappozzo-Edward Perraud


Creative Sources CS 168 CD

Trumpet-percussion duos are about as common as they are popular. The simple reason for this is that it takes invention and stamina for three valves and tubing to produce as varied and audible sounds as the noisemakers in a drummer’s complete kit.

As he attests on the nearly-one-hour, multi-sectioned improvisation that makes up Suspension, Jean-Luc Cappozzo hardly lets this sort of situation upset him. Not only has the Luzillé, France-based trumpeter and bugler worked over time with the likes of bassist Joëlle Léandre and pianist Sophia Domancich, but he learned his trade in a military brass band. Similarly Paris-based drummer Edward Perraud is no Buddy Rich-styled basher. If anything he’s the converse in that he’s best-known as a member of the minimalist quintet Hubbub.

Meanwhile the Rafale quartet goes to greater lengths to introduce additional textures to a brass-percussion duo of Lille-based trumpeter Christian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins, both members of the Circum Grand Orchestra and La Pieuvre. This CD captures a Polish meeting between that Gallic duo and two Japanese innovators, fellow trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and pianist Satoko Fujii. Orins has played all sorts of improvised music with everyone from pianist Stefan Orins to dancers; Pruvost with everyone from pianist Benoît Delbecq to the all-brass collective Ziph. Moving between New York and Tokyo, Tamura and Fujii are some of the busiest musicians on the planet, participating in at least two Fujii-led big bands as well as playing in smaller groups with musicians such as bassist Mark Dresser, drummer Jim Black, pianist Myra Melford and many, many others.

Even though the pianist composed two tracks, the drummer three and Tamura one, there’s no attempt on Kaze to inflate the timbres to approximate large group interaction or large ensemble arrangements. Instead nearly every compositions leads into the next, with timbral inventions designed to bring out both the unusual instrument tinctures as well as harmonic intersections among the four sound sources.

From Tamura’s “Noise Chopin” at the top, the trumpets usually play parallel, but distinctive roles. Broken-octave smears characterize both, but as pieces develop braying cries forced through the mouthpiece characterize one trumpeter, while the other often outputs pinched triplets. Eventually the rubato pacing of one turns legato, around the same time as Fujii moves from internal string stops and strums to vibrating arpeggios and finally full-fledged, multiphonic cadenzas. Orins’ single clanks and rim-shot clangs are limited to syncopated underscoring, as the two horns alternately soar to narrowed grace notes or descend to plunger tones.

The drummer’s own “Marie-T”, which runs on almost without a pause from the pianist’s “The Thaw”, asks more of the brass men, as their tongue suction and inner buzzing provide a needed contrast to Fujii’s music-box-like patterning. As the tune further relaxes, her feints, jumps and slippery licks give way to gentle swing, with the drummer’s subsequent reverberations presaging choruses of warbling and chirping from the trumpets, and complete the circle as stacked, chromatic brassiness is contrasted with processional chords from the piano.

Eventually this double duo outpouring – or is it a meeting between a piano-drums duo and a brass section? – reaches a climax with “Polly”, another of the drummer’s compositions. Initially inchoate and divided among thinning and twisted grace notes, valve-pressurized rubato slurs, squeezed peeps from a child’s toy plus bell-ringing, it later harden into a dramatic exposition. As the drummer rocks, rumbles and rebounds and Fujii advances a tremolo rhythm, the staccato trumpet lines explode northwards, with fortissimo rodent chirps and equine whinnies. March-like kinetic chords from the pianist anchor the theme.

Recorded in Tours in more utilitarian surroundings than Rafale’s formal concert in Krakow, but with an appreciative audience on hand, Cappozzo’s and Perraud’s multi-part excursion is stripped to its essentials. With the brass man able to play different trumpets and bugle – sometimes simultaneously – and the drummer’s use of extended percussion, the two expose as many sound surfaces as are heard on the other CD.

With at least four pauses for applause and regrouping, the single track is unitarily linear, but features the percussionist more often twisting side bolts or scouring drum tops with harsh implements than playing metered beats. Plus low-frequency tremolo buzzes and bugle brays from the trumpeter take the place of mellow grace notes or linear lyricism. Although the improvisation’s final section returns the duet to more linear territory before the conclusion with a “Taps” variant from Cappozzo’s bugle and cymbal resonations, most of the sounds preceding this are spikier and grittier. For example the sequence directly before the finale encompasses Perraud bounding through his percussion extensions with triangle snaps, bass drum thuds, and detached cymbals vibrating on the ground. Meantime Cappozzo moves from rubato vibrations to crisp single notes, references Latin and Klezmer timbres and ends by sounding both bugle and trumpet simultaneously.

Throughout the duo improvisation hand pops, drags and clanks, drum skin rubs and jagged pulls along cymbal tops vie for aural prominence beside purrs and guffaws tongued through the trumpet’s iron pipe without depressing the valves; smacks on the wooden parts of the drum kit contrast with peeps and wah-wahs from the brass man; plus gourd-like timbres stroked from other percussion equipment face cataclysmic fortissimo brass tones. Eventually though, trumpet yelps and drum squeaks finally congeal into staccato counterpoint.

Each of these CDs proves that brass and percussion on their own are perfectly capable of painting an improvisational picture. Kaze may be a bit of cheat by doubling the brass output and adding a chordal instrument, while Suspension is pared to the bone. Still both offer memorable if adventurous listening.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Suspension 1. Suspension

Personnel: Suspension: Jean-Luc Cappozzo (trumpets and bugle) and Edward Perraud (drums and percussion)

Track Listing: Kaze: 1. Noise Chopin 2. Anagramme 3. The Thaw 4. Marie-T 5. Polly 6. Blast

Personnel: Kaze: Christian Pruvost and Natsuki Tamura (trumpets); Satoko Fujii (piano) and Peter Orins (drums)