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Belgian vocalist Catherine Jauniaux is one the most underappreciated of a generation of free improv vocalists. Less a storyteller than Shelley Hirsch, more overtly musical than Phil Minton or Jaap Blonk, she falls somewhere between their spontaneous explorations and the avant art songs of Joan La Barbara. She has released only a handful of records with bands still loved by the few who recall (The Hat Shoes, Aksak Maboul and Vibraslaps, her duo with Ikue Mori) and is, perhaps, best known for her personal and professional relationship with the late Tom Cora.
She seems to be reestablishing her Downtown roots in recent years, making the trip from her home in France to play with Marc Ribot, Ned Rothenberg and others, and in November of 2008 brought Rothenberg (and his shakuhachi and multiple reeds) over to play New York's Instants Chavires with herself and American ex-pat bassist Barre Phillips.
The eight tracks here make for a great set of vignettes. Not the kind of short stories that rely on punch lines, but well-told, small but complete worlds. The three players swirl around each other endlessly, restlessly, each tastefully sitting out long passages, none relying on a single impetus for very long when they are playing, each constantly molding without smashing. It's a testament to how well they play together that it's so easy to not notice when configurations change. They make up a lovely hour together.
Track Listing: First Things First; Oh My!; Flashing Terncat; As Soon As; Whisper; Eyelet; While You Were Out; La Vida Es Sueño.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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