Jean Claude Jones: New Duets

Eyal Hareuveni By

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Since forming his own label, Kadima Collective, Israeli and Jerusalem based bass and electronics player Jean Claude Jones, opted for the duo format. His first two solo discs, recorded in the last two years, when he is in his late fifties, were a series of meetings with like-minded Israeli improvising musicians, including a short document of his meeting with New York based reed player Ned Rothenberg, during Rothenberg visit to Israel. On his new discs Jones deepens his dialogues with three of his partners.

Harold Rubin & J.C.Jones
Muse & Music
Kadima Collective

This is the most satisfying release so far of Kadima Collective. Muse & Music documents two close musical partners and focuses on the wise and ironic beat poems of clarinetist and one of the forefathers of the Israeli Free Jazz scene, Harold Rubin, who is also a painter and drew the cover of this disc. Rubin usually spices his performances with one or two of his poems, usually the anti-war "Little Men of War", but never documented a series of his poems. Rubin and Jones are aware that these poems create a certain atmosphere and feelings that influence and stimulate their open-ended improvisations, and try to follow these lines. Their openness, willingness to challenge themselves on any meeting and their playfulness and humor are captivating.

On the opening piece, "Like A kiss", they manage to create some hallucinatory tempting soundscape. Jones' electronics act like an alien subtext to Rubins lament of his youth on "Neanderthal Days". Both surround the poem "Curfew in Hebron- Sept. 96", that chronicles Rubin's visit to the occupied Palestinian city of Hebron and his feeling of despair and his sense of impotence, with melancholic and mourning sounds. Rubin's amusing "Sarah" describes a scene of him as an adolescent teenager watching a beautiful girl in a South Africa, where he was born 73 years ago, while Jones uses his bass as a kind of imaginary African percussion instrument. Rubin portrays his sober secular philosophy in the last two tracks. On "Green Desert" he says: "God sat like a stone- all alone with his own desperate silence. So we picked him up gently and threw him in with the rest of the garbage, to be remanackled, rehackled and recycled into the 21st century". and on the closing track, "Human Dignity" he confesses: "Sympathy & a nice cup of tea is what we crave for, with a bite of god as insurance against the little red devil".

Josef Sprinzak/ Jean Claude Jones
Ha'Olam Agol (The World Is Round)
Kadima Collective

Ha'Olam Agol, The World Is Round in Hebrew, is a sound text composition based on the enigmatic texts of Gertrude Stein, all in Hebrew, and on a performance of Israeli vocal artist Josef Sprinzak and Jones, that was based largely on Stein's stories. Sprinzak translated Stein's short stories into a very lively and colorful Hebrew, giving full attention to Stein's childish and sophisticated use of language, in a way that demand us to reflect on the fundamental shortcomings of any language to translate the reality into innocent concepts. Jones supplies here a precise musical setting to the amusing vocal incursions of Sprinzak, implicating Stein and Sprinzak's association with his own eccentric musical vocabulary and detailed samples. There is not much of a musical dialogue between Sprinzak and Jones, since Sprinzak is the main player here, and unfortunately no improvisations, but this release stands as a sincere document of very unique and inspiring performance and an excellent showcase of Sprinzak abilities as a highly skilled vocal artist.
Sprinzak added a beautiful booklet with his own translations, drawings and charts, again all in Hebrew.

Gan Lev/ Jean Claude Jones
Kadima Collective

This set of mostly miniature improvisations fails too often to live up to the potential of such a meeting. Reed player Gan Lev, who is proficient mainly in new music, and is a key member of the Israeli 21st Century Ensemble and the French 2e2m Ensemble, has a great technique, and shares Jones' improvisation gamesmanship. But this set of seventeen duets, most of them less than two minutes long and all recorded in one afternoon, is offering head-on collisions between two seasoned musicians that are full of primal ideas and an endless urge to investigate the sonorities of their instruments but unfortunately these ideas rarely congeal into a substantial performances.

Lev and Jones do slide too often into mischievous games that sound funny, such as when Lev is using Jones' bass pickup or when he is ceremoniously congratulated the coming Shabbat (Saturday) or when Jones is mimicking snoring sounds on "Snorosolo," but this impression lasts only during the first listening. The last two duets are the most interesting ones. On "I Remember," Jones use of soundwaves that echo Lev's dark playing on the soprano sax, with his clever bass line that punctuate this piece, is very imaginative. Jones' hissing electronics on the closing piece, "Mahfuze," forces Lev to search for compatible sounds on his alto sax.

Visit Jean Claude Jones on the web.

Tracks and Personnel

Muse & Music

Tracks: Like a Kiss; Esther; Curfew in Hebron; Little Men of War; Sanctuary; Sarah; Flight Prayer; Green Desert; Human Dignity.

Personnel: Harold Rubin: clarinet & texts; J.C.Jones: electro-acoustic bass and live electronics.

Ha'Olam Agol

Tracks: Vered is Vered; Kelevlove Ve'Shmo Love; Willie ze Willie; Willie VeHaYanshufim; Vered Lomedet Bebeit Sefer; Willie VeHa'Arye shl Willie; Ha'ish im Hatof; Willie Hayakar VeHamatok; Hasof.

Personnel: Josef Sprinzak: vocal, translations, and drawings; Jean Claude Jones: bass and electronics.


Tracks: Open; The Sun; The Sky; The Sea; The Dream; Free; No; Yes; Now!; Toward; Eh!!; Lost; Shabat-shalom; Inside; Snorosolo; I Remember; Mahfuze.

Personnel: Gan Lev: soprano, alto and baritone saxophone, voice; Jean Claude Jones: bass, electronics.


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