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Friday, April 5, 2013

Dirk Sommer's Sommelier du Son - "Soyeusement" by Michel Godard & Steve Swallow

Imagine: a swinging, jazzy theorbo (...), a throaty, traditional voice - Mongolian/Tibetan-like - from Sardinia (Italy) and... a serpent, a dinosaur-like medieval wind instrument whose sound seems to come from the mists of the past.

... as a plus, Steve Swallow, the IMMENSE bass player I met and listened to so many times is swinging and improvising, too: last track, side two is worth the disc.

From Sommelier du Son's site:

"Michel Godard is a “dream-walker” between epochs and cultures. He belonged to the innermost core of the “Folklore Imaginaire” with Louis Sclavis and Valentin Clastrier and played for many years with Rabih Abou-Khalil, the Lebanese oud player’s band. He loves the adaptation of Renaissance and Baroque melodies while performing as the tuba player of choice in experimental jazz bands. Godard’s own music reflects all of these worlds and times. He improvises his path through the imaginary and transforms space where visions can come true. Years ago, he found such a space in the medieval Castle del Monte in Apulia, a mysterious building brimming with the past and future. That is where Michel Godard let Renaissance and jazz musically meet as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Now Michel Godard has found another space, the former Cistercian monastery of Noirlac located in central France, that seems to have fallen out of time. The medieval abbey with its history, architecture, ambience and surroundings possesses exactly that certain as well as uncertain magic that Godard’s music needs: openness in all directions and connections to everywhere. For Godard’s music does not commit itself, it loves being in limbo – prancing, gentle, improvised, muted, dark, somewhere between the Middle Ages and jazz. The instruments that came together in Noirlac symbolize this floating between the worlds. The electric bass comes from rock and jazz-rock fusion. The saxophone is reminiscent of the great emergence of the 19th century woodwind instruments before they changed their character into jazz. The serpent – a snakelike winding bass zink, the theorbe – a polyphonic bass lute, and the baroque violin open sonic doors to the distant, cross-cultural past. And not to be overlooked is Gavino Murgia’s raspy throat singing – a reflection of the millennia-old vocal tradition of Sardinia.

These instruments find many niches and connections in Godard’s timeless space of the imagination. Both the duets of serpent and electric bass, as well as theorbe and electric bass merge together into trans-epochal instruments. Although the soprano sax reaches more jazzy peaks, the theorbe can swing as well, violin and serpent come together, while the throat singing provides drone accompaniment all improvising together. Whether in swinging waltzes or as etudes over complex meters, lyrical melodies enchant the moment with hypnotic power. It is an effortless sleepwalk through time and worlds. Of course, trust plays a role: Godard had already worked with the American, Steve Swallow in Abou-Khalil’s group in 1994. He has been playing in a duo with the Sardinian, Gavino Murgia for a long time. These are bridges that can connect the most opposing styles, cultures and epochs creating music that is incredibly improvised, almost disembodied, and smooth as silk. They are the magical dream bridges of Noirlac, the black lake where all lines intersect. A type of jazz, fallen out of time and space."

Hans-Jürgen Schaal
Translation by Joe Grand

Thanks a lot to Dirk Sommer for the GREAT engineering, recording and mastering jobs... as a plus, the lacquers have been cutted by Willem Makkee, who used to work for the Emil-Berliner-Studios in Hannover, and has retired and runs his own cutting studio, now. He's Dirk's friend and he gladly offered his nearly 50 years of cutting experience for the project.

Pallas from Germany pressed the discs... it's among the VERY best pressing facility on the planet... ALL the above care paid: the sound is so rich of harmonics and nuances... also if not a minimalist miked recording, the live-mixing-to-two tracks approach SURE pays a lot vs. the average overproduced, post-produced, over-handled recordings... a sense of zestness, relaxed joy comes from the grooves.

With Dirk's compliments, one song of "Soyeusement" has been digitalized from the master tape and can be downloaded free of charge on (link to in CD-quality, in 24/192 and in DSD.

Thanks to Serge Schmidlin for this... and more.

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