Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg | Jean Demey | John Russell | The Mercelis Concert (Brussels 2006)

Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg | voice, John Russell | acoustic guitar, Jean Demey | double bass

Tracklist: 1. Light Staging’ – 13:10 2. The First One – 15:25 3. The Mercelis Trio – 11:15 4. The 50th Birthday Party – 6:30 5. Zen Garden Gift – 6:46

“The innocent comments that a young kid in the audience externalizes every once in a while appear as a symbol of purity amidst a radically genuine kind of expression, unpedigreed music that can turn our mood for the better in the space of a few minutes.” — Massimo Ricci, TOUCHING EXTREMES

“Van Schouwburg… unleashes a distinctive array of throat, mouth and tonsil intonation that encompasses guttural murmuring, duck-like quacks, extended nattering, Satchmo-style growls, saliva-filled expositions, Bedlam-like mumbles and vibrating warbles. Russell responds with crossbow-like pulls on his strings, rasps beneath the guitar’s bridge and abrasive extended slides.” — Ken Waxman, JAZZword

Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg - Jean Demey - John Russell | The Mercelis Concert (Brussels 2006) ; front and back cover Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg - Jean Demey - John Russell | The Mercelis Concert (Brussels 2006) ; inside 1 Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg - Jean Demey - John Russell | The Mercelis Concert (Brussels 2006) ; inside 2 Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg - Jean Demey - John Russell | The Mercelis Concert (Brussels 2006) ; cd

MP3 version (70.59 MB zip file)

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2 thoughts on “Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg | Jean Demey | John Russell | The Mercelis Concert (Brussels 2006)

  1. The Mercelis Concert, a whimsically-packaged CD that comes with a distinctive, cartoon-like cover and a disc that resembles an old LP. Except for one trio track which adds Belgium bassist Jean Demey – who also and separately has his own impressive solo feature on another track – this mostly Brussels-recorded material finds Russell’s contribution nearly buried beneath the verbal and gullet gymnastics of Waterloo-based vocal improviser Jean-Michael Schouwburg.

    A dramatic performer in the Phil Minton extended-vocal-tradition, of what he terms phonési, Van Schouwburg – who is also the administrator of the Belgian Inaudible Collective – attracts the aural spotlight as effortlessly as a starlet does paparazzi’ cameras. Here he unleashes a distinctive array of throat, mouth and tonsil intonation that encompasses guttural murmuring, duck-like quacks, extended nattering, Satchmo-style growls, saliva-filled expositions, Bedlam-like mumbles and vibrating warbles.

    Russell responds with crossbow-like pulls on his strings, rasps beneath the guitar’s bridge and abrasive extended slides. Nevertheless, even when Demey is on hand to provide some additional rhythmic bass lines on “The Mercelis Trio”, the focus remains on the singer’s mumbles, retches and theatricalism. As examples of Ur-improvisation, the CD can’t be faulted – but it’s Van Schouwburg’s show all the way.

    Ken Waxman, JAZZword, December 5, 2007

  2. I received this nicely packaged CD along with a very kind letter – in Italian! – from Belgian vocalist Van Schouwburg, who told me about the “love and patience” that were put into the realization of this artifact, recorded live at the Petit Théâtre Mercelis in Brussels. There’s no doubt that every minute of this record confirms those handwritten thoughts in full. Jean-Michel is an extraordinary performer, his flexibility and powerful agility crossing the borders between the styles of Demetrio Stratos and Phil Minton, with a little bit of muscle in addition. Comrades in this occasion were guitarist John Russell, really needing no introduction (as announcers used to say when calling Mike Tyson’s arrival in the ring) and double bassist Jean Demey who’s featured in two tracks, one of them a beautiful solo demonstrating an immaculate technique and the will to walk roads leading outside the habitual trickery. While Russell is at his usual semi-acoustic best, this time fusing snappy plucks and chordal bangs with an unheard before rock attitude (listen to the end of “Light stagin’ ”) and long moments of attentive silence (“The Mercelis trio”), Van Schouwburg is the force to be reckoned as a true revelation here, his constant research for new standards of vocal improvisation – which materializes without sounding wacky or excessively ironic, repeated rants and snarls notwithstanding – scuttling the certainties of what a “singer” is supposed to do during an exhibition. The innocent comments that a young kid in the audience externalizes every once in a while appear as a symbol of purity amidst a radically genuine kind of expression, unpedigreed music that can turn our mood for the better in the space of a few minutes.

    Massimo Ricci, TOUCHING EXTREMES

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