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  • Norm Adams

The Final Post from Mulhouse

I'm a couple of days late on this, but here is my final post from The Meteo Mulhouse Festival. I'm now in London getting set for a show with Sebastian Lexer at Cafe OTO on Monday night.

If it wasn’t so damn hard I think I’d be a morning person. The trip to the Basel/Mulhouse/Freiburg Airport was stress free, although it is Saturday, and I did start at 6 AM….I awoke to that boulangerie smell again, which was a nice exit from Mulhouse. It is much cooler today, last night’s rain killed the heat and now it is clear, still and much more comfortable, a beautiful morning for a bike ride….. This is quite an amazing airport with German French and English at play at all times, and a border crossing right in the middle, depending on which country you’re heading to.

All this calm gives me a nice opportunity to reflect on the past week. I heard more improvised music in one go than ever before. Some of which I liked and some of which I could do without, most of which I liked certain aspects of. Yesterday afternoon I heard Daunik Lazro on Bari sax and Isabelle Duthoit on clarinet, in an ancient, and of course hot chapel in Mulhouse. This was also a lean concert with lots of noise, and extended techniques, I liked it's minimal nature and again, the tenacity of it's performers, doing something very fragile and exposed and not giving into something comfortable! I saw the first two sets at last night’s concert: 6ix (with maybe the best name ever) was terrific in some ways, very interactive, yet with independence between players, and nice dynamics. The electronics of Thomas Lehn were especially noteworthy. It was one long piece, which I care less for, but I could hear divisions within, so it was okay. Sometimes the music was almost inaudible, which was unusual for the week, and for the space, but welcome! Next was the Ames Room, a trio with Guionnet, Thomas and an Aussie drummer. It was non-stop punk free jazz, with only one small interruption in the middle. The bassist played variations on two riffs so tenaciously that I ended up liking it! The music was driven by the drummer, who also played very repetitively, but with that great force and non-stop energy. How they found an ending is a mystery. It was loud, it was non-dynamic, it was repetitive, but it’s sheer force and energy appealed to me!

6ix, yes that IS a musical saw!

This week, I learned about what I like, and Joelle reminded me of, and taught me some of those characteristics that Speak to me. To quote JL, the music must be human (plucking at her arms when she says it). The music must have melody or fragments or at least one pitch leading to another, the music must have exchange between players (a conversation). It must be positive or affirming somehow (this is less clear), also rhythm is nice, but this is also open to confusion still. It has to express something or reflect something. I guess that’s why I liked the Ames guys, like it or not, they were saying something strong about the world!

But it wasn’t just the concerts that were inspiring. The playing of my fellow stagiares was fantastic. The level was so high, of listening, of technique (in some cases) and commitment. This music, whether influenced by JL or not, was music I like, and some of the performances were fantastic - Worth the price of admission. Our little concert was a really nice mélange of performances, especially Pascale’s solo made up of JL quotes! My contributions were mediocre, again I was stuck with some difficult partners. But I had nice comments afterward despite it.

Joelle? Well she’s earned the right to say whatever she wants about the music! And that’s what she did, a lot! Sometimes I agreed, and sometimes not. But she was always highly critical, which is interesting to hear. It is very easy to declare any music made in the moment as good, I mean, it was just made up!

At the bar after the concert JL went off on a tirade about how hard her life is, never getting a break, never getting to set a schedule. But when she heard 6ix that night, her light and smiling face showed her enjoyment and why she makes this music. 

When she’s happy she’s really happy, when she’s mad, she’s really pissed! And that’s what her idea of music is: no half measures: You’re in, or you’re out! I'm in.


Aug 28, 2011 at 14:57

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