Tag Archives: Jean-Luc Guionnet

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

CF 231THE AMES ROOM – Bird Dies (CF 231)
This record from 2011 is definitely suitable for allegorizing the concept of “getting lost”. You can attempt to fine-tune the ears a bit, and start analyzing the kind of technical contribution by a single instrumentalist. But the guess here is that after about 15/20 minutes (at best) of the circa 48 that incorporate the performance the brain will be stabilized on “blurry standby” mode, and the physical essence – most preferably, the limbs – will be doing the hard work. Basically, Bird Dies is made of diminutive rhythmic and melodic follicles that keep revolving around themselves with rambunctious vehemence, interlinking parts producing a sort of agglomerative acoustic frenzy. Yet there is no primitivism involved, as Guionnet, Thomas and Guthrie are three outstanding instrumentalists who do not need highbrowed deceptions to stymie the probity of their quest. Their success in this context depends on a congenital ability in originating driving stoutness substantiated by decipherable configurations. Try as one might to put some distance from the resulting exhilaration, it’s very probable that these ferociously half-broken orbits will defeat the resistance to insistent foot tapping and autistic head nodding. Nimble acridness, sinewy muscle and polymorphic pulse: nothing is missing. Just add the punch-drunk syndrome granted by a loud playback.

Jazz.pt review by Nuno Catarino

CF 254The Fish – Moon Fish (CF 254)
Classificação: 4/5
Ligado às correntes da improvisação reducionista, o saxofonista Jean-Luc Guionnet tem desenvolvido trabalho em paralelo no free jazz mais bruto. Com o grupo The Ames Room editou recentemente, também na Clean Feed, um outro disco em formato trio que explorava esse universo – “Bird Dies”, uma faixa única de quase 50 minutos de portentosa exploração sonora.   Tal como acontece nesse trio com Clayton Thomas e Will Guthrie, nestes The Fish o saxofonista segue numa linha de free clássico, apresentando um som forte, assente pura e simplesmente na improvisação.   Nesta formação exclusivamente francesa, Guionnet tem como parceiros Benjamin Duboc e Edward Perraud (um dos seus colegas no quinteto “near-silence” Hubbub). Gravado ao vivo no Fundão, este disco divide-se em três temas (de cerca de 16, 18 e 6 minutos), nos quais se expõe a fisicalidade impetuosa da sua música.   Não há aqui qualquer subtileza ou contenção – quem quiser ouvir Guionnet e Perraud nesses registos deve seguir directo para o trabalho dos Hubbub ou para outros projectos paralelos.   O que aqui se ouve é música feroz, ríspida e árida: saxofone em permanente desafio, contrabaixo e bateria em constante propulsão. Rugosa, tumultuosa, vibrante, conflituosa, incandescente, esta música não pede licença para rasgar. Isto é nervo, isto queima.

JazzWord review by Ken Waxman

CF 254The Fish – Moon Fish (CF 254)
Thomas Tilly & Jean-Luc Guionnet – Stones Air Axioms
Jean-Luc Guionnet may not be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but the opposing musical personalities he reveals on these and in other situations suggests this duality – at least in a sonic sense. Paris-based and a members of the microtonal Hubbub quintet – hm, we could be getting into Three Faces of Eve territory here – on his own Guionnet can be the very epitome of the go-for-broke hard blowing Free Jazz saxophonist, as he demonstrates on Moon Fish. However his other persona is that of a composer/performer of New music.

Stones Air Axioms captures this role. Trained as an organist, Guionnet, together with Thomas Tilly, a specialist in site-specific sound installations, mapped out the spatial qualities of St. Pierre Cathedral in Poitiers. This on-site metric measurement later allowed the two to merge textures generated by Guionnet improvising on two scores simultaneously played on the cathedral’s pipe organ, while a white-noise sine-waver generator captured the standing wave form retorts that bounced off massive stone walls of the edifice’s cruciform structure. Reconstituted with studio wizardry into four sections, dealing with one aspect of the relation between sound and architecture, the filtered timbres were expanded to encompass the sonority of the empty building.

In all honesty for the layperson, the differences among sections aren’t that pronounced. Throughout as the concentrated textures are propelled from flat-line quivers to resounding crashes and multiphonic drones, the layered results don’t necessarily appear to reflect air and stone as much as approximate machine-generated tones. Only on “SAA3” does the previous seemingly impenetrable thudding response separate enough to reveal spiraling timbres and whistling tremolos that can be attributed to the organ itself. These interludes are brief however. Most of the time crackling static layered with watery laps against indistinct objects, create a result so tonally solid that any variations are infinitesimal. Without formal beginning and end there also appears to be no climax or finale. However scrapes, shuffles and a motion undercurrent are layered into the variants of phase, speed and volume already exposed.

Significant perhaps as an electro-acoustic exercise, Stones Air Axioms lacks the raw emotion that animates Moon Fish. With Guionnet are fellow Hubbuber Edward Perraud on drums, plus Benjamin Duboc, one of France’s most accomplished bassists, who works in similar configurations with other adventurous reed plays like Daunik Lazro. Recorded live in Fundão, the three selections are as close to Energy Music as you can hear in the 21st Century.

Like saxophonists such as Peter Brötzmann and Charles Gayle, Guionnet seems to put the horn in his mouth and blow and blow until he stops. The comparisons to Gayle and Brötz are apt as well, for while the reedist is listed as playing alto saxophone his frenetic tone extensions frequently dip into the tenor register. Evocatively the first two selections are actually one of a piece with the third an encore. Throughout Perraud’s cymbal shatters plus knocks, rolls and rebounds evolve at the same febrile pace as the saxophonist’s reed-shattering lines. With the two often threatening to push the entire performance past the point of no return, it’s Duboc’s thick pumps and scrubs, as well as one suspects, sheer force of will, that moors the others to terra firma. Exhilarating in his improvising that’s staccato, shrieking splintered and spluttering all at the same time, Guionnet doesn’t ignore any extended technique from flutter-tonguing to split tones. Renal cries and pressurized growls are repeated over and over again until the bassist’s solid thump signals the end.

Although the trio appears to pick up where it left off, “Moon Fish 3” is superior to the previous tracks. More cooperative and with more brevity and balance, space is made for a couple of upfront stentorian sound extensions from the bassist as well as a finale of rumbles, pops and flams from the drummer. Mixing bugle-like spetrofluctuation with dips into his horn’s lowest register, the saxophonist piles notes upon note, phrase open phrase, then splinters and splays what he’s created. Although it could be that the “William Tell Overture” is alluded to for a brief sequence, the staccato cries are all his.

For sonic excitement at the same level as a pioneering New Thing session Moon Fish can’t be beat, however the more scholarly committed to that sort of sound may prefer Stones Air Axioms. Whichever is chosen the fact that’s obvious is that Guionnet has made his mark on contemporary improvised music. Of course which of his playing stances is Dr. Jekyll and which is Mr. Hyde depends on your musical orientation.

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

The Fish – Moon Fish (CF 254)
In many ways at many times so-called “free jazz” depends for its success on inspiration and inventive commitment on the part of the musicians involved. If they are without a certain amount of “juice” and a certain level of ideas, it can be a little like the cartoon image of a hippopotamus taking a high dive into a much-too-small tub of water. Ouch!   I bring this up because today’s CD is just the opposite of this kind of lack. We have the trio known as the Fish doing a three-part improvisation on their recent CD Moon Fish (Clean Feed 254). They are filled with the inspiration of the muses for this one, tumbling their way through some kicking free space.   This is a well-matched European outfit of Jean-Luc Guionnet, alto, Benjamin Duboc on contrabass (who we’ve encountered rather often in good settings both here and on the guitar-bass blog), and Edward Perraud on drums.   They are supercharged and wail their way through this set, Guionnet sometimes worrying a phrase a la “Sunship,” more often proceeding in a linear way through phrases that blaze; Duboc creating forceful counter-onslaughts and digging in for a continuously thrumming energy foundation; Perraud feeling the spirit and busily pushing his kit to the barrage limits.   It’s the wild and crazy kind of freedom we have on this one, continuous, energized, on fire and beautifully frenetic. Nice one.

Blow Up Magazine review by Enrico Bettinello

Hairybones Snakelust (CF 252)
Platform 1 Takes Off (CF 255)
The Fish Moon Fish (CF 254)
Instancabili gli alfieri dell’avant/jazz, di ogni latitudine. Prontissima come sempre la portoghese Clean Feed  a documentarli, come in questo trittico che farà certamente ingolosire gli appassionati.

Gli Hairybones di Peter Brötzmann innanzitutto, impegnati in una lunga suite dedicata allo scrittore giapponese Kenji Nakagami: il quartetto, completato dalla tomba e elettronica di Toshinori Kondo, dal basso di Massimo Pupillo [Zu] e dalla batteria di Paal Nilssen-Love [The Thing] è una vera e propria macchina da guerra, un muro di intenzione sonora [anche quando uno dei componenti viene lasciato a monologare, come nello splendido interludio di Brötzmann dopo circa un quarto d’ora dall’inizio]. I fan apprezzeranno, astenersi nervi fragili.

Ottimo anche l’ennesimo nuovo progetto di Ken Vandermark, ormai stabilmente proiettato sugli incroci tra musicisti americani e europei: il quintetto Platform 1 si pregia di uno dei migliori e più sottovalutati tromboni in circolazione, Steve Swell, della tromba di Magnos Broo [Atomic] e della intensa coppia ritmica formata da Michael Vatcher e Joe Williamson, entrambi musicisti che dagli States si sono trasferiti in Europa. I temi sono firmati da ciascuno dei componenti e questo garantisce una bella varietà di approcci e di situazioni, da quelle più astratte e impalpabili [Stations di Vandermark] a quelle più ruspanti come Compromising Emanations di Swell. Grande dinamismo e splendida musica, sebbene nel solco di sintesi post-free tipico di Vandermark.

Viene invece dalla Francia il trio The Fish, che già si era fatto apprezzare qualche anno fa con un bel live per la Ayler Records. Il contralto di Jean-Luc Guionnet, il basso di Benjamin Duboc e Edward Perraud si rifanno apertamente alla ormai lunga tradizione dell’improvvisazione libera e torrenziale, sebbene giocata con grande abilità. Nulla di nuovo, ma un trio che se vi capita dal vivo, non è da mancare.

Bodyspace review by Nuno Catarino

The Fish  – Moon Fish (CF 254)
Free jazz bruto, bem bom.
Habitualmente ligado às correntes de improvisação reducionista, o saxofonista Jean-Luc Guionnet tem desenvolvido em paralelo trabalho numa linha de free jazz mais bruto. Com o grupo The Ames Room editou recentemente, também na Clean Feed, um outro disco em formato trio que explorava esse universo – Bird Dies, uma faixa única de quase cinquenta minutos de portentosa exploração sonora.   Tal como acontece no trio The Ames Room, onde colabora com Clayton Thomas e Will Guthrie, nestes The Fish o saxofonista segue numa linha de free jazz clássico, apresentando um som forte, assente pura e simplesmente na improvisação. Nestes The Fish, trio exclusivamente francês, Guionnet tem como parceiros Benjamin Duboc no contrabaixo e Edward Perraud na bateria (um dos seus colegas de grupo no quinteto “near-silence” Hubbub).   Gravado ao vivo no Fundão, a música este disco divide-se em três temas (de cerca de 16, 18 e 6 minutos), onde o trio expõe a fisicalidade impetuosa da sua música. Não há aqui qualquer subtileza ou contenção – quem quiser ouvir Guionnet e Perraud nesses registos deve seguir directo para o trabalho dos Hubbub ou projectos paralelos. O que aqui se ouve é música feroz, ríspida e árida: saxofone em permanente desafio, contrabaixo e bateria em constante propulsão. Rugosa, tumultuosa, vibrante, conflutuosa, incandescente, esta música não pede licença para rasgar. Isto é nervo, isto queima.

Tomajazz review Pachi Tapiz

The Fish – Moon Fish (CF 254)
Sin llegar a la crudeza de The Ames Room y su monolítica propuesta en The Bird Dies, el trío The Fish (en el que también participa el saxofonista alto francés Jean-Luc Guionnet) guarda algunos puntos en común con ese trío. En ambos casos estamos ante una propuesta de free jazz improvisado, aunque en Moon Fish la música pasa por fases de distinta intensidad. Los tres músicos de The Fish no buscan únicamente ir hacia adelante a toda costa, a toda velocidad, a plena energía, sino que saben buscar huecos en los que encontrar cierta calma para tomar un nuevos impulso, espacios en los que dialogar con sus compañeros, huecos para las melodías e incluso para un cierto groove.

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

The Fish – Moonfish (CF 254)
Três faixas, 43 minutos, nem um segundo de tréguas. Jean Luc Guionnet (sax), Benjamin Duboc (contrabaixo) e Edward Perraud (bateria) permitem, aqui e ali, uma breve diminuição da densidade – não da tensão – mas logo regressa o torvelinho furioso, cuja obstinação se aproxima por vezes da insanidade. É o frenesim do free jazz actualizado para o séc. XXI: ácido, adstringente e com uma rítmica mais coesa e implacável.

Se esta música fosse um peixe seria o venenoso fugu, aquela iguaria japonesa que por vezes envia uns comensais para o outro mundo. Que este peixe tenha sido pescado num concerto ao vivo no Fundão, e não em Tóquio ou Nova Iorque, testemunha que o mundo passa por curiosas mudanças e que nem tudo na globalização é tão mau como se faz crer.

Le Son du Grisli review by Luc Bouquet

The Fish – Moon Fish (CF 254)
On reconnait The Fish à sa transe continue. Pour Jean-Luc Guionnet, Benjamin Duboc et Edward Perraud, le fil ne doit jamais rompre, la tension ne doit jamais retomber. Et si modulation il y a, elle ne peut s’entretenir que dans le crescendo et, seulement, dans le crescendo.   Donc : ne pas dévier mais s’autoriser quelques suspension (duos, solo) avant la reprise des hostilités. Et dans chaque cas de figure, faire de ces courts passages en duo (le solo de batterie n’est là que pour conclure la troisième improvisation) un tremplin vers de nouvelles attaques soniques. Et, toujours, répéter le motif, ce dernier s’arrachant à sa solitude quand l’un ou l’autre se charge d’en faire écho ou unisson. Ici, trois improvisations (la dernière ne semblant pas couvrir son intégralité) aux fureurs intenses, soutenues. Remarquable à nouveau.

Jazz Word review by Ken Waxman

The Ames Room – Bird Dies (CF 231)
Ivo Perelman/Joe Morris/Gerald Cleaver – Family Ties
Free Jazz has no geography or language as these two CDs of outstanding trio improvisation prove. Seemingly any musician(s) from anywhere can organize an exceptional session just as long as the spirit is there. But that’s the key caveat. For unless the performance includes an indefinable helping of inspiration and cooperation, the results is endless blowing.

The younger group of players who make up the Ames Group understand this and, perhaps pointedly don’t make free expression their only methods of expression. Paris-based alto saxophonist Jean-Luc Guionnet for instance, is not only is involved with electro-acoustic compositions and pieces for organ but he’s one-fifth of Hubbub, France’s most recognizable reductionist band. Confirming the geographic separation, The Ames Room’s other members are Australians who have expatriated to different parts of Europe. Nantes, France-based Will Guthrie, is a percussionist who moves between Rock, Electronica and experimental solo expression; Berlin resident, bassist Clayton Thomas is as likely be found as part of an experimental duo as a big band playing complex arrangements.

There’s no sign of that versatility on Bird Dies, which in essence is 46 minutes of unstoppable, balls-to-the-wall improvisation, with no explanation of whether the deceased bird in question is a fowl or Charlie Parker. Guionnet sticks the horn in his mouth at the beginning, and almost never stops stretching sequences of staccato segmented split tones, slurs, screams and siren-like squeaks throughout. Meanwhile Thomas keeps things together with resonating thumps while Guthrie matches the saxman’s extended glossolalia and tongue jujitsu with cross-sticking counterpoint expressed in ruffs, rolls and bounces.

Building his solos with pointillist intensity so that partials and extensions of individual notes are apparent along with the roots, Guionnet’s altissimo screams and basso honks are anything but out of control. Marking time with repeated phrasing and hooks, his output cunningly mingles with Thomas’ and Guthrie’s pressures and vibrations until the intermingled lines come to a satisfactory end. One would expect that “Bird” Parker would have been impressed with the trio members’ audacity, if not all their methods.

There are similar circumstances in place on Family Ties. But here the slightly older improvisers keep the free-form intensity going for almost 75½ -minutes, albeit among six tracks. Another dual country situation, in this case bassist Joe Morris and drummer Gerald Cleaver are Americans while saxophonist Ivo Perelman is Brazilian. Each has worked with a cross section of advanced stylists in the past, most prominently bassist William Parker and pianist Matthew Shipp.

Cleaver who straddles supposed contemporary and so-called avant-garde Jazz gigs most of the time uses blunt accents throughout; while Morris, equally proficient as a guitarist, has an expected tendency to mix arpeggiated licks with steadying string pops. As for Perelman, his supposed avant-gardism doesn’t preclude involvement in the song form at various junctures. Especially in this classic configuration of saxophone-bass-and-drums, his pacing and timbre intersections often reflect decisions Coleman Hawkins and Sonny Rollins made in corresponding situations. Get an idea of this on “The Buffalo”, the only creature memorialized here.

In effect there are sections in “Love”, the album’s nearly 25-minute climatic showpiece that Perelman’s supposedly irregular reed variations take on lyrical inferences in the Stan Getz-Gerry Mulligan tradition. Bird may figure in too. Mid-range and moderato, Perelman’s sputtering textures are backing by Cleaver’s ratamacues. Soon afterwards though bugle-like spetrofluctuation, pressurized honks and repeated tongue slaps are the order of the day, with the saxophonist blowing several choruses through his mouthpiece alone. The drummer responds with shattering ruffs and cross patterning, while the bassist sprints up and down the strings to introduce the saxophonist`s tongue-stopping and shrilling. As a climax within a climax, Perelman eventually produces two streams of sounds; one which piles shrieks upon shrieks; the other accommodating and mid-range. The later connects to the pseudo-ballad which launched the sequence and appropriately completes it.

Throughout the rest of the session the three engage in more cat-and-mouse-like games and chases, with multiphonics as prominent as American songbook inferences and, in the saxophonist’s case, bitten-off tones and vamping cries that go beyond Rollins-like strategies without being offensive. Tessitura broadening to insinuate lyrical underpinning even lurks in a piece such as the title track. Although Perelman begins his improvisations on kazoo [!], there are still references to simpler pop melodies in the midst of the instrument’s nasal whines. When he switches back to tenor saxophone, his output is initially paced and mellow, until he deconstructs what melody there is with staccato snorts and bell-muting slurs. As Cleaver ruffs and rattles alongside Morris’ stentorian bumps, Perelman uses thick reed pressure to rappel from nephritic sound dislocation to grating altissimo tongue flutters before locking into a chromatic summation punctuated by guitar-like twangs and a concluding thump from the bassist.

Protracted or segmented explorations of the polyphonic limits of concentrated improvisations, both of these Brazilian-American and French-Australian trios offer uncompromising but satisfying CDs.