Carlos Zingaro | Jean Luc Cappozzo | Jerome Bourdellon | Nicolas Lelievre | Live At Total Meeting | No Business Records

Carlos Alves “Zingaro” – violin | Jean Luc Cappozzo – trumpet, bugle | Jerome Bourdellon – flutes, bass clarinet | Nicolas Lelievre – percussion

All music improvised by Zingaro / Cappozzo / Bourdellon / Lelievre. Recorded in December, 2010 by France Musique during the Total Meeting Festival in Le Petit Faucheux, Tours, France. Mastered by Carlos Zingaro. Photo of the quartet by Rémi Angeli. Design by Oskaras Anosovas. Produced by Danas Mikailionis. Co-producer – Valerij Anosov

Tracklist: 1. Total 1 [19:27] 2. Total 4 [19:31] 3. Total 3 [12:54]

Carlos Alves “Zingaro”

Carlos Alves “Zingaro”

Jean Luc Cappozzo | Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Jean Luc Cappozzo | Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Jerome Bourdellon

Jerome Bourdellon

Nicolas Lelievre | Photo by Franpi

Nicolas Lelievre | Photo by Franpi

The cover to Live At Total Meeting depicts a maze

and that’s a good metaphor for free improvised music. No-one knows where they are going or how they will get there. Even whether they have arrived or not is open to dispute. How the participants achieve resolution (of a sort)—negotiated, as it often is, without verbalization—is part of the enduring fascination of such sessions. For sure, the risks are less when veteran improvisers like the Portuguese violinist Carlos Alves “Zingaro” and French trumpeter Jean Luc Cappozzo are onboard, alongside fellow Frenchmen reedman Jerome Bourdellon and drummer Nicolas Lelievre. Between them, they have performed with all the major European and American innovators.

That experience ensures a successful outcome on these three collectively navigated pieces recorded in Paris in late 2010. There are no longueurs, and no-one hogs the limelight, as the foursome understatedly but purposefully moves through the range of combinations inherent in the lineup. Each player maintains interest by endless variations in timbre, dynamics, and attack, while also exploring the tension between consonance and dissonance. Zingaro displays a nervy energy, alternating eerie creaks with taut glissandos, while Cappozzo pits vocalized inflections against pure tones and puttering exclamations. Bourdellon’s breathy fluttering and multiphonics on flutes are in contrast to his agile scampering between registers on bass clarinet. But it is Lelievre—the youngest of the four by a generation—who exerts the biggest influence, largely through his choice of whether to add a pulse to the proceedings or not.

Some of the finest moments come when the group settles into repeating patterns to create a substructure to underpin their endeavors, as towards the conclusion of “Total 2,” where Lelievre contributes momentum to a passage of extemporized intersecting lines. Similarly on “Total 3,” Bourdellon initiates a bass clarinet ostinato, supplemented by percussive clatter, over which Zingaro’s singing violin and Cappozzo’s heraldic trumpet fanfares intertwine. Such interludes illuminate the more indeterminate give and take which precedes them and lend a sense of narrative by providing the ultimate destination. — John Sharpe


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3 thoughts on “Carlos Zingaro | Jean Luc Cappozzo | Jerome Bourdellon | Nicolas Lelievre | Live At Total Meeting | No Business Records

  1. Constantly changing and challenging, this extended three-part sequence by four of Europe’s most accomplished improvisers ebbs and flows enough to create a perfectly framed soundscape, but leaves enough ellipses for individual expression.

    Recorded at the Total Meeting in Tours, the almost 52 minutes of music were put together with no pre-conceptions. But as the interaction evolved, the players found themselves melding and separating their extended and expected narratives into spontaneous solos, duos and trios. This sort of ad hoc organization is second nature to the participants, all of whom have extensive experience in straight and experimental sounds. A former military bugler, trumpeter and flugelhornist Jean-Luc Cappozzo now frequently works with bassist Joëlle Léandre. Flautist and bass clarinetist Jérôme Bourdellon has recorded with reedist Joe McPhee among others, while the least known of the quartet, percussionist Nicolas Lelievre, has faced musical challenges from, among others, no-input-mixing-board specialist Toshimaru Nakamura and French hornist Arkady Shilklopper. The preceding players are all French, while veteran violinist Carlos Alves “Zingaro” is Portuguese. Practically a school unto himself and one of the first Iberian Free Music specialists, Zingaro has matched wits with everyone from Léandre to trombonist George Lewis.

    From the first notes heard, the fiddler’s doubled sawing and juddering strokes dynamically define the rhythmic shape of the piece, aided by Lelievre’s vibrating cymbals and thunder-sheet-like resounds. For his part Bourdellon adds emotional impetus with his flute, defining a sympathetic melody that is then decorated by understated grace notes from Cappozzo. Often, as well, buzzing snorts from Bourdellon’s bass clarinet signal a shift in emphasis, as the hithertofore legato exposition turns both weighty and agitated. At these junctures, sul ponticello jumps from Zingaro’s strings plus galloping ruffs and upturned rumbles from Lelievre’s kit follow Bourdellon’s staccato lead.

    These sorts of amoeba-like coalescing and splintering characterizing the improvisation’s extended middle section, as for instance, warbled bird call puffs from the trumpeter are matched by angled multiphonics from the fiddler; or in reverse, a lyrical sub melody is constructed out of carefully balanced bugle-like notes from Cappozzo and spiccato strokes from Zingaro. On his own the percussionist keeps the theme from being stretched too thin, by beefing it up with a series of ruffs, clanks and rhythm-defining pumps.

    By the climatic final minutes of “Total 3” the quartet has introduced so many lyrical or coarse variations on the theme that a slide into swing-like rhythm appears unexpected yet inevitable. Although earlier attempts to prettify the proceedings with conventional flute tropes by Bourdellon seemed to be mocked by the trumpeter’s off-centre blowing and the violinist’s equivalent timbre-stretching, those reed sounds are now revealed as presages not negations. Before reaching the finale, each players gets solo space to celebrate his dexterous instrument command. In Bourdellon’s case it involves stuttering bass clarinet snorts; in Cappozzo’s shrill and tremolo triplets; in Zingaro’s higher-pitched and narrower multiple string pressure; and in Lelievre’s stentorian thumps on the bass drum, gong reverberations and rolls.

    Finally these narrative excursions end, and the Live at Total Meeting set is wrapped up satisfactorily, as if there had been a plan from a beginning. Perhaps so, perhaps not. But with sophisticated musical experimenters such as these involved, the journey has been as exciting as its conclusion.

  2. A European avant quartet live, featuring the interesting violin playing of Carlos Alves “Zingaro”? That is what is in the offing on Live at Total Meeting (No Business NBCD 48).

    The somewhat unusual lineup of violin, two horns and drums holds forth at the Total Meeting Festival in Tours, France, December 2010. Zingaro is joined by Jean Luc Cappozzo on trumpet and bugle, Jerome Bourdellon on flutes (including an incredible sounding bass flute) and bass clarinet, and Nicolas Lelievre on percussion/drums.

    It’s a very free spontaneous set where everybody lets loose and hopes it all works. It does. Zingaro, Jean Luc and Jerome have something to say on their instruments (LOVE that bass flute) and Nicolas adds his somewhat subtle percussive barrage.

    If you love free done well, here it is, by people we don’t hear that much from otherwise. Encore!

  3. Live at Total Meeting may be the first album I’ve heard where a flute plays the bass line. About halfway through the first of three long performances from the 2010 Total Meeting Festival, there it is, Jerome Bourdellon’s bass flute, trudging along, the instrument with the airiest reputation anchoring a unique instrumental line-up. I like to think of Live at Total Meeting as continuing in a great Threadgillian tradition: delighting in the concoction of new timbral stews, relishing the results of unusual juxtapositions of instruments. The ingredients here include not only Bourdellon’s flute, but also violin, trumpet, bass clarinet, and a variety of percussion.

    I’m willing to venture that Carlos Zingaro is the best improvising violinist around right now. He’s quick-thinking, quick-fingered, and constantly surrounds himself with high-caliber musicians. Though the performances on Live at Total Meeting tend toward the long-winded, they’re constantly being rescued from monotony by Zingaro’s ability to thread his lines through the other instruments and pull them all tight again. “Total 4” bursts into a breathless, high-register swarm that brings to mind truly Angry Birds (or at least, extremely restless birds) before taking a darker, brooding turn with plodding toms and creeping clarinet. “Total 3” culminates in a prickly counterpoint that might also be appropriately described as “Threadgillian,” touching upon some of the strange harmonic effects that Zooid produces when it’s kicked into high gear.

    NoBusiness’s super-limited LP releases might get most of the ooos and ahhs, but regardless of format, they know a good performance when they hear one. Live at Total Meeting is a CD worth checking out, especially for those who enjoy less traditional line-ups.

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