Pianist Francois Tusques was one of the early, pioneering avant-free jazz practitioners in Europe in the '60s, yet not much of his music made it to the States. I confess that I am just catching up with some of those early recordings, and they are revealing.
Like his contemporary pianist colleagues Dave Burrell and Burton Greene, he has ofttimes turned to original compositions in song-form (minus vocals) freely realized, as opposed to completely extemporaneous ventures.
The recent album Topolitologie (Improvising Beings 02), with drummer Noel McGhie, finds him in this mode, improvising around a series of originals along with a couple of bop-to-out standards.
It seems to me one can say many things about this music, because it covers a lot of ground and is realized very freely. What hit me after a number of listens was the expressive creativity unleashed. McGhie gives a nicely loose accompaniment. Tusques covers a wide spectrum of historical influences, as I hear it, from Jelly Roll to Monk to calypso and beyond, but in completely original, idiomatic ways.
He never was a pianist who capitalized on whirlwind technique or capacious harmonic sophistications and he isn't that today either. He communicates directly, soulfully, very freely and loosely and the program is filled with interesting music.
I find in the performances on this disk a very human endeavor that brings on good feelings whenever I listen. Maestro Tusques today is playing the essence of the music as he feels it. And it comes across warmly, openly, expressively. Listen to this one a few times and you may find yourself a budding Tusquesologist. And you will no doubt be smiling all the while, perhaps.