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J.C. Jones With Friends: Duos II

Eyal Hareuveni By

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Israeli bassist Jean-Claude Jones—born in Tunisia, raised in France, and educated at Berklee in Boston—is one of the dedicated forerunners of the small community of free jazz players in Israel. In the last years his activity focused on intimate improvised encounters with local kindred souls—musicians, poets, vocal artists, and dancers, very often in duos, in the same manner as the late great bassist Peter Kowald did along the years ( Duos, FMP, 1991; Duos 2: Europe America Japan, FMP, 2003).

Jones, like Kowald or other great bass players, releases the bass from its conventional role of timekeeping instrument. He abides with his own sense of fluid beat, and while he has studied the legacy of the bass through and through, his playing is very fresh and original, as if he's playing for the first time. The second installment of Jones' duos, Duos II, has been released now on his newly founded label, Kadima ("move on" in Hebrew) Collective, which aims to promote and document the free improvised music scene in Israel. Duos II presents some of Jones' recent encounters recorded live and in his home studio.

The first two dialogues are with American reed player Ned Rothenberg and were recorded live in Jerusalem last March. Jones uses the bow as a percussive instrument on the bass strings in a way that punctuates Rothenberg's high flights on bass clarinet and alto sax. Jones uses his PowerBook to draw dark soundscapes that correspond playfully with the vocal acrobatics of Victoria Hanna, and he accompanies the Dadaistic text of another vocal artist, Josef Sprinzak, in a minimalist walking bass line.

His encounters with Israeli free jazz pioneer Harold Rubin feature the close affinity that the two have developed along the years. Rubin plays a sweet melody on his clarinet and Jones produces from his bass and PowerBook obscure sounds that veil this sweetness, while rubbing, squeezing, and hitting the strings. In their second duet Jones supplies noisy washes from his PoewrBook that clash with Rubin's recital of his ironic poem "Little Men Of War" and his clarinet playing. In his duets with violinist Daniel Hoffman of the Bay Area alt-klezmer band Davka, both players vibrate their instruments' strings in order to create abstract echoes. Jones encounters viola and flautist Nori Jacoby, his co-conspirator in the Israeli versions of John Zorn's game-piece Cobra, and the two enjoy themselves in a childish strumming of the strings that almost turns into a cartoon tune.

Jones' four duets with reed player Gan Lev, one of the most underrated jazz players in Israel, are the most engaging. Lev is a highly inventive player, never too forceful, well-versed in the free jazz legacy and contemporary music, always challenging Jones in a playful way. The two should record a whole disc to document their highly developed musical dialogue.

A very promising debut release that features some of the best free-minded players in Israel.

Visit Jean-Claude Jones on the web.


Track Listing: Petit Echo/Impro 1 & Pizsa (with Ned Rothenberg, bass clarinet and alto sax); jc.com/Impro (with Victoria Hanna, vocals); Impro (with Harold Rubin, clarinet); Impro (with Josef Sprinzak, original text Tupu); Impro (with Hagai Freshtman, drums and percussion); Impro 1 & Impro 2 (with Daniel Hoffman, violin); Snake Me; Tableau 1; Tableau 2 & Tableau 3 (with Gan Lev, reeds and home made didge); Little Men Of War (with Harold Rubin, original text and clarinet); Mosquitos 1 & Impro 2 (with Nori Jacoby, viola and flutes)

Personnel: Jean-Claude Jones- acoustic bass and Mac PowerBook

Title: Duos II | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Kadima Collective

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