Jean-Luc Guionnet

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Heur Review

by Steve Loewy

Extended duo improvisations are tricky business, as producer Robert Rusch acknowledges in his notes to this recording: At their worst, they can result in what he terms "an hour of self-indulgent bullsh*t," while when things go well, they can be highly rewarding. This one is a good effort, a fascinating exercise in extremes. It is not easy listening, even for those accustomed to the ways of free improvisation. Part of the difficulty is that the recording constitutes one (nearly) hour-long improvisation, which would be demanding on the listener even if the results were more accessible. In their notes, the artists recommend listening "in deepest privacy...with headphones," something that does, in fact, enhance the experience. Guionnet is the predominate voice; he focuses mostly on little sounds, every now and then exploding, while his companion gently lays the groundwork. This is generally a far cry from the wildly exuberant blowing that has come to be identified with the genre of avant-garde jazz, yet the two players chirp and screech, even at lowered intensities, with a fearless abandon. It is a more primitive approach than usual, and naysayers might claim a lack of technique. They would be mistaken, though, for these players know what they are doing, and they have planned it well. To be sure, an hour of it is exhausting, but there is little denying its quality and creativity.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Jean-Luc Guionnet 56:24 Amazon
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