There are albums in the review cycle that take a while to digest, that I at first do not quite know what I have in front of me. That has been true of the volume at hand today. It is a two-CD set, the first disk recently recorded by the Robbe Gloaguen Quartet playing the compositions of French Avant Jazz pianist-composer Francois Tusques. The second volume is by Tusques himself in a live 1984 recording with the International Free Dance Music Orchestra (Mazeto Square 3770005705244 2-CD).
What we come to appreciate (at least I do) is an emphasis on the compositional collectivity of Tusques in various moods and modes, more emphasis on this than merely a constant focus on improvisational continuity, which is secondary though important of course in keeping with a "Jazz" actuality.
The first disk, Gardez Votre Sang Froid ("Keep Your Cool") fields a very together quartet of Eric Leroux on saxophone, Fabien Robbe on piano, Tanguy le Dore on bass and Jerome Gloaguen on drums. Ten compositions get vibrant and free-going treatment in a very convincing loose-free ensemble setting. As you listen repeatedly you begin to lock into the frame of mind of each piece and in the process also get locked into the "testificatory" soulfulness of the totality. It is music to in time appreciate increasingly. The melodic element is strong and not exactly predictable either. Perhaps it might qualify as one of the best albums made by people you probably never heard of? Seriously this CD alone grows on you more and more. But then so does the second. If you are reading this you no doubt already know of Tusques? If not all the more reason to check it out.
The Theatre de Jazet 1984 live disk gives us a kind of Avant Free dance suite played by an eleven member big band with some eccentrically "ethnic" vocals and a forward moving dance continuity that is infectious as well as being offered with a sense of humor. It's as if we experience some music from an unknown local folk world. The audio sounds good in part thanks to Julien Palomo's restoration of the original sound of the set. The improvisations at hand here are consistent with a folkish openness and a loose conjoining that brings a smile. The composed tutti parts have a kind of Modern-Avant quality that belie in interesting ways the sort of ethnicity that hangs together as a premise.
I come away from this set very glad to have it, to hear it. I will doubtless be listening again many times. Highly recommended.