Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

153

Pascal Marzan /John Russell: Translations

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count
"By the way, if you don't like guitars you won't like this CD!" So says guitarist John Russell, in his sleeve note to Translations, laying out the truth in typically plain, simple terms. Russell is part of the generation of improvisers who came together in London in the '70s and have been mainstays of the capital's improv scene ever since. If that makes it sound parochial, thanks to Russell the reality has been very different. Through his monthly Mopomoso series of live concerts (celebrating its twentieth anniversary in 2011) and his annual three-day festival Fete Quaqua, Russell has established links with improvising musicians across many countries and warmly welcomed them to London.

Russell's duo with French guitarist Pascal Marzan dates back to 2004, and typifies the links he has made with other musicians. The recordings here date from February 2007 and March 2010, in both cases recorded at Russell's home of the time, which helps to explain their relaxed, happy-go-lucky atmosphere. In his sleeve notes, Marzan gives a telling insight into the recordings, noting that the only sounds removed were "some unavoidable external noise and the subsequent bursts of laughter and discussion about music." The pair's shared love of the guitar and guitar music pervades the entire album.

On the recordings, Russell's steel-strung plectrum playing is heard on the left channel and Marzan's nylon-strung classical guitar on the right, allowing the different contributions of the two to be heard clearly and easily distinguished. Although the two guitars have very different timbres, they blend well as the complementary parts of a coherent totality. The natural playing styles of Russell and Marzan are very different, yet together they adapt to each other and find a common style that allows each to play fluently and freely. When they are in full flow, the music seems to pour out of them smoothly and effortlessly, making it simultaneously relaxing and exhilarating.

On the album's longest track, the 24-minute epic "Kuulilennuteetunneliluuk" (in keeping with Russell's internationalism, the track titles are taken from tongue twisters in various languages, some being English translations), the pair starts at a brisk pace, spurring each other on and exchanging phrases at speeds that demonstrate their mental and manual sharpness. The piece then settles down to a more sedate tempo, but the technique remains just as impressive. It never sounds as if the two are in competition—no dueling guitars here—but are both totally involved in an enjoyable and engaging game. As Russell says, "I find the duo a continuing delight." Yes, it shows.

By the way, if you do like guitars, Translations makes for compelling listening; if you don't like guitars, it could well change your mind.

Track Listing: Don't tease your cat; Eighty-eight beautiful canals; Nightwork; Kuulilennuteetunneliluuk; In Mr Niwa's garden, two chickens suddenly ate a crocodile.

Personnel: John Russell: guitar; Pascal Marzon: guitar.

Title: Translations | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Emanem

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Solid Gold CD/LP/Track Review Solid Gold
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Ts'iibil Chaaltun CD/LP/Track Review Ts'iibil Chaaltun
by Don Phipps
Published: January 15, 2018
Read One Night in Indy CD/LP/Track Review One Night in Indy
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 15, 2018
Read A Sky You Could Strike a Match On CD/LP/Track Review A Sky You Could Strike a Match On
by Patrick Burnette
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Open Borders CD/LP/Track Review Open Borders
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 14, 2018
Read can't believe, won't believe CD/LP/Track Review can't believe, won't believe
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 14, 2018
Read "Popofoni" CD/LP/Track Review Popofoni
by Duncan Heining
Published: May 3, 2017
Read "The Moonlight Sessions, Volume 1" CD/LP/Track Review The Moonlight Sessions, Volume 1
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 15, 2017
Read "Synesthesia" CD/LP/Track Review Synesthesia
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 29, 2017
Read "Invisible Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Hand
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "All You Gotta Do" CD/LP/Track Review All You Gotta Do
by Doug Collette
Published: September 16, 2017
Read "Gin & Moonlight" CD/LP/Track Review Gin & Moonlight
by James Nadal
Published: August 26, 2017