When glancing over the history of indigenous French free improvised music, there tends to be two observable categories of musicians - those who worked and collaborated with their counterparts from abroad, and those who worked independently. The former is generally more celebrated, and among those the drummer Jacques Thollot, who worked with Don Cherry, Steve Lacy, Sonny Sharrock, Sam Rivers, Joachim Kühn, and numerous others, as well as with French pioneers like Barney Wilen and Jef Gilson, ranks among the best.
Beginning in 1971, and across the following decade, Jacques Thollot issued a series of remarkable solo efforts on such seminal imprints as Futura Records and Palm, before disappearing for much of the 80’s. Those LPs, from Quand Le Son Devient Aigu, Jeter La Girafe À La Mer to Cinq Hops, remain among the most import important documents of the remarkable scene of free improvised music in France - filled with fire, spirit, and revolutionary collaboration. That said, there’s an unavoidable wish that Thollot had produced more as a band leader, something which Alga Marghen is currently helping rectify with two previously unreleased LPs of recordings from 1969, Intra Musique and More Intra Musique, marking some of his earliest efforts to ever have been heard.
The first LP - Intra Musique , is the product of rough edits by Jacques Thollot before his death, drawing on material from a concert at the Faculty of Law in Paris, on an evening in 1969 - the realisation of the dream which almost no one knew existed. Thollot, who plays drums and tapes of recorded experiments, is joined by Eddie Gaumont on Guitar and Piano, Michel Portal on tenor sax, Mimi Lorenzini on guitar, and Daniel Laloux on Tambourine. The resulting five pieces, one extending over the entire first side, is a revelation in sound, standing with the best of almost anything from the era. Furious, clattering, structurally complex and incredibly responsive, this is what free jazz is all about - five brothers in sound being led by their ears into the unknown with mutual respect. There’s little wonder after the first listen of why Thollot was one of the most sought after drummers in France - his spirit and ideas now echoing through time. An unbelievably important document of indigenous French free jazz in its early years, this is as important as they get and not to be missed on any count. A truly wonderful and intoxicating journey forward into the past. Issued in a tiny edition of 350 copies in full-color gatefold sleeve. Don’t sleep!
More Intra Musique, the second in Alga Marghen’s series dedicated to previously unreleased recording by the drummer and experimentalist Jacques Thollot, draws on the same body of recordings from which the first release, Intra Musique, was built. With none of the spirit and fire lost, this time we hear from a duo of Eddie Gaumont on prepared piano, and Thollot on drums, piano, prepared piano, synth, and tapes. These efforts, despite the sharing of personal, couldn’t be more different than those which appeared on Intra Musique, venturing far into purely experimental realms. It’s hard to express how stunning and resistant to definition they are, at times flirting with the simple elegance of the furniture music of Erik Satie, before shifting toward the wild, frantic piano music of figures like Conlon Nancarrow, the pulsing, chaotic synths of Groupe De Recherches Musicales, Moondog, and the inspiration of field recordings from Africa and beyond. It’s all in there, and it’s stunning to beyond - shifting between worlds wild and cooly intelligent constructions in should. An absolute revelation, which rethinks everything we know about French free- improvisation. Like it predecessor, this long lost recording from the visionary mind of Jacques Thollot is overwhelmingly important and not to be missed on any count. Issued in a tiny edition of 350 copies in full-color gatefold sleeve. Don’t sleep!