Clément Janinet Ornette Under the Repetitive Skies III
O.U.R.S.? It’s an acronym for Ornette Under the Repetitive Skies. This quartet, with velvet paws and the snout of a grizzly, is made of revivals. Revivals of everything that has nourished the four rascals that constitute it. A quartet of fine blades that cut through the current jazz scene in as many playgrounds as possible. Labelling each one, they embrace them all. O.U.R.S. is probably prog deep down, and it’s wonderfully classical in its form. It combines heritage and on-the-spot invention with infinite panache. It’s griot (storyteller) jazz, and it’s workshop pleasure. Something that makes music incredibly transmissible.
Clément Janinet – violin, mandolin, percussion
Hugues Mayot – tenor saxophone, piano, percussion
Joachim Florent – double bass, percussion
Emmanuel Scarpa – drums, vibraphone, percussion
Arnaud Laprêt – percussion (4)
Ze Jam Afane – voice (6)
About the album
All compositions by Clément Janinet except track 6 by Ze Jam Afane, arranged by Clément Janinet
Recorded by Viktor Szabó at BMC Studio, Budapest on 4-6 January, 2021
Mixed and mastered by Viktor Szabó
Artwork: Anna Natter / Cinniature
Produced by László Gőz
Label manager: Tamás Bognár
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Clément Janinet: Ornette Under the Repetitive skies
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This O.U.R.S. (or ‘ours’, French for bear) has a unifying growl. O.U.R.S. has deep roots, and an airy joy. Fine. But what exactly is O.U.R.S.? A mispronunciation of a bygone communist realm, or a sophisticated spelling of a word used to refer to a quadruped with a sore head? Nothing of the sort. Far from it. O.U.R.S is a jazz quartet. A quartet of fine blades that cut through the current jazz scene in as many playgrounds as possible. Labelling each one, they embrace them all. O.U.R.S. It’s probably prog deep down, and it’s wonderfully classical in its form. It combines heritage and on-the-spot invention with infinite panache. It’s griot (storyteller) jazz, and it’s workshop pleasure. Something that makes music incredibly transmissible. O.U.R.S.? It’s an acronym for Ornette Under the Repetitive Skies. In 2017 the beast put his claw on a music with bold contrasts and unifying power. Not bad for an acronym. This quartet, with velvet paws and the snout of a grizzly, is made of revivals. Revivals of everything that has nourished the four rascals that constitute it. The original salvos of Radiation 10, the exploring that took place within COAX, the first shocks of the daring harmonic intervals of Ornette Coleman, the micro-cellular obstinacy of the American minimalists. And Baroque too, and popular dances for a few bars here and there. We’re talking a necessary bonus, the power of Joachim Florent polished within the Jean Louis trio and Révolut!on by François Corneloup. We’re talking the unwise passage by Hugues Mayot in the Orchestre National de Jazz directed by Olivier Benoit, or the Cubo-agit band ¿Que Vola? with Fidel Fourneyron. We’re talking the escapades of Emmenael Scarpa in Umlaut, Marteau Matraque, or more recently in the pendular duo SkullTone, with Fanny Lasfargues.
The pedigree of Clément Janinet offers yet more treasures, inclined as he is to country and urban music from many regions of the world: north-east Brasil, the north of Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, and the Berber areas of Morocco and Algeria. His violin works to link together the vast distance between oral traditions and composition, the brute energy and the finesse of the musical body, between dance and thought. This is how the music of O.U.R.S. is mixed, written first for those who are going to play it, imagined with the beginnings of themes and the ends of ideas. Challenged and put back into play by the sturdy complicity that links the four members of the group. The unison that sounds at the tenth minute of the 3rd Meditation is part of this. Part of the community consciousness of a personal idea. Together in plurality, each one participating and contributing to the communal destiny. This music, then, is popular jazz. Adventurous, partial to concept, and to openness, to flights of ruffled lyricism, to the simplest of emotions, and the clearest of melodies. Ze Jam Afane’s singing in Obidi, the mandolin line played in Quiet Night (hello Haden), would coat the hardest of ears with honey. For that matter listen to the entry of the tenor sax in the first third of the piece, full of grain picked in the open air, strong with a melody of disarming fragility, beaten with sufficient accuracy by the drums/percussion team. On the lineup’s previous album, the pulse persists right into the title: Danse ? (Gigantonium, 2019). And with a questioning look, O.U.R.S., a pirate savant, knew exactly what it has always wanted. With this III, sober and imperial livery of the title, by delving down into the intimate baggage and years of training of its members, the quartet produces a texture even denser, and even clearer. A writing increasingly based on trance and convulsion. First, it’s discreet. Then it explodes under the fire of Hugues Mayot, more and more Coltranian in spite of the Coleman-like acidity of his tenor sax.
Since O.U.R.S. took it into their heads to dance, and to do it devilishly well, Clément Janinet adds a bit more to the legacy: the length of forms is revised upwards, a 70s solo, a Coltranian spirit, African trance, ancestors’ vernacular dances and renewed fraternal hymns. Most often, without warning, when a song takes a detour. A perfect example is the one that opens then concludes Purple Blues. This blues traces back the intimate revolution of the lineup to him alone. This is where O.U.R.S. moults. Back to the future, the sound is harsher, perhaps there’s more rock in it, but it opens up new ideas in the quartet’s path. Each one holds a set of percussion instruments, complementing the playing of Emmanuel Scarpa, weaving a rhythmic backdrop where, instead of the expected pairing of sax/trumpet with keyboards, Janinet places his own harmonic role on a modal basis. This way, the violin integrates the rhythm. The convulsive beauty of each of the six pieces on this album is very much due to this. Never confined to its role as soloist, the violin is allowed to propel ideas in the sax accompaniment and its tangled litanies. Here in Purple Blues it is played with an open belly but with restrained modesty, played after Haze, less purple than that of Hendrix but as mischievous as some pieces by Ornette, the historical reference for the band. With this CD the quartet renews the definition of their music, while fully aware of which of the old concepts of rhythm and harmony can be shaken up by new ones. Also with something that has always existed in jazz, that physical pulse, an unstoppable instinctive origin. Vivacious, under the coat of a few bears that are still alive.
Translated by Richard Robinson