Sanne Rambags | Vincent Courtois | Julian Sartorius Twigs
The new band of quintessential French jazzman Vincent Courtois unites three nations, three generations, and three different approaches to music. Twigs, the first CD by this line-up, is moving in its intimacy, and reveals a lyrical musical world to the listener: as if the sacrificial rites of an imaginary ancient people were revived through the means of modern jazz.
In Sanne Rambags, the cellist and bandleader has chosen a young trailblazer. The Dutch singer is seen as a future star not just in her homeland, but also on the international jazz scene, and she has garnered considerable critical acclaim with several bands (Under the Surface, Mudita).
The third member of the trio, Swiss drummer and media artist Julian Sartorius, has for a decade now been one of the outstanding jazz musicians of the continent, as a member of the Colin Vallon Trio, for instance.
As well as her own texts, as the basis for the compositions Sanne Rambags uses selections of poetry by Emily Brontë, Emily Dickinson, Federico García Lorca, and Pablo Neruda, which the unique instrumentation puts in a special light. The music of Twigs is song-centred chamber jazz spangled with improvisation, and into this unique style merge Sanne Rambags shamanistic folk-power, Vincent Courtois’ affinity with classic and contemporary music, and Julian Sartorius’s experimental vein.
Vincent Courtois has recorded three other albums for BMC Records: in 2019 he released The Demons of Tosca, recorded with Sebastien Brun and Robin Fincker, in early 2023 there was Carmen Rhapsody, with Aki Takase, and in summer 2023 Nothing Else, jointly with Daniel Erdmann and Robin Fincker.
Sanne Rambags – vocals
Vincent Courtois – cello
Julian Sartorius – drums
About the album
Compositions by Sanne Rambags (1, 2, 4, 5, 9); Vincent Courtois (7, 10); Vincent Courtois, Julian Sartorius
and Sanne Rambags (3, 6, 8, 11)
Lyrics: Sanne Rambags (1, 6, 11), Emily Brontë (2), Pablo Neruda (4), Federico García Lorca (5),
Emily Dickinson (7, 9)
Recorded at BMC Studio, Budapest on 4-6 July, 2022
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Viktor Szabó
Artwork: Anna Natter / Cinniature
Produced by László Gőz
Label manager: Tamás Bognár
Sanne Rambags, Vincent Courtois, Julian Sartorius: Twigs
The album is available in digital form at our retail partners
A MARVEL OF COLOR
Is improvisation a product of freedom, or is it instead an expression of the struggle to be free? Perhaps this is a chicken-and-egg question, and maybe it doesn’t matter too much, since improvisation and freedom cannot exist without each other: to improvise is to break free. Singer Sanne Rambags captures the process perfectly with the words, “It’s over now – and I am free.” And the way cellist Vincent Courtois and drummer Julian Sartorius lend Rambags’ incomparable voice an even greater depth and intensity – partly by doing their own thing – speaks volumes about how wonderfully these three musicians connect and communicate in an uncertainty that is overwhelming.
In any given pop song, the line, “It’s over now – and I am free,” would be a clichéd reference to the details of a broken personal relationship or some such. But here, in the interplay of percussion, cello and voice, the words are about something universal: there is no freedom without farewell, there is no freedom without loss.
Oh, what an overwhelmingly intimate album this is!
Oh, how seemingly loosely sung and played, with no holds barred.
There is a shift in the song “I Am Free”, when the trio twice changes register slightly, most notably in the way Rambags, with her highly intimate way of singing, suddenly transforms the whispered vocals into guttural sounds that are just as intense. Both ways of singing are intimate and make loss palpable. And always we have Courtois’s cello and Sartorius’s percussion to emphasize and contradict Rambags’s sounds and words. It’s serious stuff. Freedom is won from not just any loss, and cello, vocals and percussion accentuate the contradiction found in those two phrases: “It’s over now – and I am free,” underscoring not only regained strength and vitality, but also melancholy, the pain of farewell.
Twigs is the trio’s first album. This makes it all the more remarkable that Rambags, Courtois and Sartorius never forget for a moment that they are part of a whole. The freedom to which every note bears testament never – not even for a beat – leads to individualism. This togetherness manifests itself in an ever-tangible concentration. The three never fail to listen to each other.
Above all else, Twigs is a very poetic album, where “poetic” means embracing the incompatible, letting the contradictory exist in harmony. There is a constant contrast between freedom and concentration, as well as between freedom and form. The composed pieces, with their pop- and folk-like feel, seem to want to break free of their structure. On the other hand, the improvised pieces are performed with such attention that their freedom never leads to formlessness. Rambags, Courtois and Sartorius prove to be a match made in heaven thanks to the immense flexibility not only of their musical mindset but especially of their sound palette. Even when the trio plays in a restrained way, this album is a marvel of color. Never excessive, but always very intense.