Jean Luc Cappozzo | Christine Wodrascka | Gerry Hemingway | 2° étage | Grey Matter | No Business Records

Jean Luc Cappozzo – trumpet, bugle | Christine Wodrascka – piano | Gerry Hemingway – percussion

All the music is improvised by Jean- Luc Cappozzo, Gerry Hemingway and Christine Wodrascka. Recorded in October 18th 2012, live in Le Carré Bleu, Poitiers, France. Recording, mixing by Miké Goupilleau. Photos: Framboise Estéban (photos of the musicians). Mastered by Arūnas Zujus at MAMAstudios. Design by Oskaras Anosovas. Produced by Freddy Morezon Prod and Danas Mikailionis. Co-producer – Valerij Anosov. Partners: Jazz à Luz Festival, Toulouse II University, Jazz à Poitiers

Tracklist: 1. Echappée belle 10’42” 2. Rivulet 7’17” 3. The sheriff arrives 4’55” 4. Grey matter 8’15” 5. Possession 3’33” 6. Up down 3’20” 7. The ghost train 5’12” 8. Tanz Ende 5’31”

Jean Luc Cappozzo | Christine Wodrascka | Gerry Hemingway | 2° étage | Grey Matter | no business records

Christine Wodrascka | Photo by Framboise Estéban

Les titres des pieces

sont evocafeurs: sur un fond de matiere grise, un sherif possede arrive d’un train fantome, va pres d’un ruisseau, commence un mouvement: en haut en bas, c’est le moment de danser, belle echappee! Le trio 2° etage, compose de Jean- Luc Cappozzo, Gerry Hemingway et Christine Wodrascka improvise sa musique comme des conteurs, des peintres, des poetes. Ces trois musiciens sont des magiciens de la spontaneite, inventant dans I’instant un decor, une histoire, un monde imaginaire avec leurs sons nes de tuyaux, coquillages, peaux, ca-houtchou, bois, cloches, billes, scotch, pinces a linge… Us jouent ensemble comme des enfants, avec generosite et authenticite, pour vivre une aventure musicale et humaine, en osmose dans I’instant present.

Jean Luc Cappozzo | Christine Wodrascka | Gerry Hemingway | 2° étage | Grey Matter | no business records

Jean Luc Cappozzo | Photo by Framboise Estéban

The titles of the pieces

are evocative: on the bottom of grey matter, a possessed sheriff arrives from a ghost train, goes near a rivulet, begins a movement, up down, its time to dance, beautiful escape! The trio 2° etage, comprised of Jean-Luc Cappozzo, Gerry Hemingway and Christine Wodrascka, improvise their music as storytellers, painters, poets. These three musi-cans are magicians of the spontaneous, instantly creating a setting, a story and an imaginary world with their sounds born from pipes, shells, skins, rubber, wood, bells, balls, adhesive tape, clothespins…. They piay together as children play together, with generosity and authenticity, living a human and musical adventure, through osmosis in present time.

Jean Luc Cappozzo | Christine Wodrascka | Gerry Hemingway | 2° étage | Grey Matter | no business records

Gerry Hemingway | Photo by Framboise Estéban

The album liners disclose that 2° ‘etage improvises

with the panache of storytellers, painters and poets. Starkly expressive, the program is sculpted with a mindset that parlays the old adage, “let the chips fall where they may,” largely framed on airy dialogues, minimalism and unorthodox soundscapes. They work from a platform, consisting of fractured passages and take their time unraveling themes other than spots where eminent drummer Gerry Hemingway interjects rumbling fills into a broad plane of free-flowing exchanges.

“The Ghost Train” is predominately steered by trumpeter and bugler Jean-Luc Cappozzo & Geraldine Keller. With his multiphonics and breathy intonations amid other curiously interesting manipulations of air, he conjures a bewildering set of circumstances. Hemingway lightly peppers the asymmetrical pace via his use of brushes, while pianist Christine Wodrascka’s work on this track is quite subtle. The trio’s tactics are based on gradually ascending storylines, executed with splintered flows and numerous noise-shaping components. As the piece evolves, Cappozzo’s scratchy phrasings may signal that a perfectly fine situation has gone terribly wrong. Hence, the musicians finalize matters with a slowly moving burnout. Ultimately, the listener needs to approach this recording with an open mind as the artists propogate a 360-degree panorama of mood-altering opuses. — Glenn Astarita

Although the title of this album refers to a major component

of the central nervous system consisting of neuronal cell bodies and therefore something which belongs to the human body, listening to it makes me think of something completely different. I imagine myself standing on a large ascending meadow, I am contemplating the little flowers, the bees, the flies and the bugs, it is a world of its own, joyous and frolic. In a musical way, this is what the beginning of “Echappée belle”, the first track, is like. Jean-Luc Cappozzo (tp) starts with a Nate-Wooley-like approach, it’s an excursion in breath and extended techniques, it sounds as if there were two trumpets. Gerry Hemingway (dr) joins him but does not deliver a pulse, the drums are another solo instrument. But then I feel that there is something wrong, there is a rumbling and mumbling, as if the earth was slightly quaking; the meadow is rising at the opposite end, there is a slow but threatening debris avalanche coming towards me, it’s shape is shifting, as if it was alive. Christine Wodrascka (p), who has been the one holding the piece together with her prepared piano, has started delivering dark, gloomy and muffled low-key chords, Cappozzo plays shrill notes which are hardly recognizable as trumpet sounds and Hemingway concentrates on his toms. I look at and listen to this wonder of nature in a puzzled way because I don’t know what will happen next.

As to structure there are similar tracks like “Ghost Train” featuring Wodrascka bowing the strings of the interior of the piano while Cappozzo has turned to regular sounds and nervous runs; or “Rivulet” which presents an alternative ending: the trumpet plays a beautiful harmonic melody here.

Other highlights are short pieces like “Possession” with its disharmonic piano chords, its coughing and its belling or “Tanz Ende” (German for: The End of the Dance), which features Wodrascka and Hemingway throwing in sparse sounds, while Cappozzo is hardly audible – it sounds as if parts of what they play are cut out (especially Wodrascka’s part) – it is a sketch, an outline, a draft. It really seems as if the album was in its final throes before all of a sudden it turns in a mad, but funny simple waltz, which is immediately alienated.

All the music is improvised by these experienced musicians and especially Christine Wodrascka, who says that she likes to look for unique and authentic moments in music and who seems to be a bit underrepresented (at least on our blog) although she has played with a lot of the best European improvisers like Joëlle Léandre, Paul Lovens or Fred VanHove, is simply outstanding. Her style meanders between Alex von Schlippenbach, new classical music, sound explorations and even Cecil Taylor (“Up Down“). She is worth a deeper dig.

The album was recorded live in Le Carré Bleu, Poitiers, France on October 18th 2012. — Martin Schray


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2 thoughts on “Jean Luc Cappozzo | Christine Wodrascka | Gerry Hemingway | 2° étage | Grey Matter | No Business Records

  1. Impromptu meetings between improvisers hailing from diverse backgrounds are by now a commonplace event. But it’s less usual is for the resultant grouping to take on a collective name, the surnames or initials normally sufficing for commoditization. For a group to perform under a moniker implies both a sense of purpose and a strong shared identity, and perhaps signals an intent to continue as an entity. 2o étage, as they call themselves, certainly matches up to the first two parameters, although its persistence remains to be seen. The unit is one of several to stem from drummer Gerry Hemingway’s move to Switzerland, completed by the French pair of trumpeter Jean Luc Cappozzo and pianist Christine Wodrascka.

    Although each member indulges in the pleasure of pure sound, they don’t stay wedded to abstraction throughout. Strangely it is Wodrascka rather than Hemingway who often supplies the repeated motifs which sometimes anchor the explorations. Especially as she otherwise resides at the adventurous end of the pianistic spectrum, making full use of all the possibilities inherent in her instrument’s physical framework, like her compatriot Eve Risser, and Rodrigo Pinheiro of the Portuguese RED Trio. Instead Hemingway concentrates on timbre rather than rhythm, while Cappozzo’s trumpet often furnishes the garnish, ranging from breathy stutters through whirring drones to sounding almost boppish.

    Together they ply a fine line in unpredictable interplay over the eight cuts on this live recording from 2012. Tension builds throughout the opening “Echappée belle” as Wodrascka lays down a rolling vamp (although vamp doesn’t quite describe the rumbling thunder resolving to a definite note which she reiterates) over which Cappozzo’s muted trumpet executes buzzing acrobatics. Later on “The sheriff arrives” drums and piano combine (as they often do) in an out of kilter lurch, against which the brassman pitches declamatory fanfares recalling Wadada Leo Smith in their insistence. Humor emerges too, particularly on the witty closing “Tanz Ende” where Cappozzo’s squeaky toy sonorities answer and comment on a call and response between drums and piano, which finally breaks into a spontaneous circus march. Not how you would expect an improv album to end, but indicative of wit and invention to savor.

  2. Just because we think we know everything doesn’t mean we do. And even if we do there’s going to be something new that we don’t know and so we don’t. As a graduate student at the University of Chicago I’d sometimes go through a spell where there were no classes for a day or two and I’d start thinking I was smart, I was something else, that the world was round and I knew where everything was located. Then the Monday afternoon seminar would come along. Some poor invited guy would come and give a presentation on what he was doing. Following that the faculty would proceed to make mincemeat out of him in a question and answer segment. Then I knew! I knew that I didn’t. Eventually I started understanding why they were about to make hamburgers out of somebody, what theoretical heresy or logical gaff he was unravelling up at the podium. So I learned. But then my life changed and new things came that I needed to know. When you are by yourself you can start thinking all kinds of things, but in the face of life in the social setting, you’d better adjust to what IS! And cut the crap.

    I am thinking such thoughts as I sit down to review the album by 2° étage, Grey Matter (No Business NBCD 63). Sure this is free, avant jazz. But that doesn’t mean that somehow automatically you are gonna know what it’s like. The group is a trio of Christine Wodrascka on piano, Jean Luc Cappozzo on trumpet and bugle, and Gerry Hemingway on drums/percussion. This is a live gig recorded in France in 2012.

    I came to this recording only familiar with Gerry Hemingway. And he comes through with a sensitive creativity that he is known for in the free zone. Jean Luc Cappozzo gets a rather formidable spectrum of sound colors from his horns and can blast off some really interesting phrases, too. Christine Wodrascka plays some smart things inside the piano. On the keys she is out and unpredictable in what she is going to do. And that surprise and spontaneity is good in itself–but her timing is almost speech-like, which makes her even more fascinating to hear.

    This is new music freedom closer to MEV or AMM than Cecil Taylor, mostly. But it is in its own zone, too.

    So in the end I couldn’t say I knew everything that’s been done before I heard this one–because this wasn’t included and it isn’t quite like anything else. So once again I know that you can’t know what’s next; once again I learn not to be cocky. This is a good one if you want something out-there that follows its own sense. And maybe shakes your sense of surety up just a little! That’s good.

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