All About Jazz USA
By : Glenn Astarita
According to its mission statement, "Ayler Records will put their emphasis more to the sounds that really did happened and which created an unforgettable music event - never to be experienced again." To that end, this recent release serves as an appropriate representation of what this record label is all about.
Recorded live in France, the quartet’s fast moving and freely organized flow parallels a musical evolution of sorts.
British pianist/violinist Dan Warburton coalesces with saxophonist Jean-Luc Guionnet for a sequence of rambunctiously executed themes. Bassist Francois Fuchs and drummer Edward Perraud generally whip matters into submission.
It’s partly about angst-ridden choruses in concert with a trance-like modus operandi - where one might get the feeling that the musicians are appealing to a higher authority.
Folks, this isn’t casual listening, as the band provides a bit of justice to the record label’s moniker, which of course is named after the late, great, free-jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler.
Blow Up (IT), July - August 2003
By : Piercarlo Poggio
Non un disco di reduci americani imbolsiti degli anni sessanta, ma un ispirato lavoro di un quartetto francese ancor giovane interessato a esplorare sia la stagione d’oro del free sia come interpretare in modo attuale l’improvvisazione, "Traque" Ã¨ il frutto di una esibizione dal vivo con in regalo il bonus di una mezzoretta in studio.
Le due componenti a cui abbiamo accennato tendono a mescolarsi in modo convincente, e nell’insieme c’Ã¨ da restare sorpresi del fatto che, oltre a non ingenerare noia, la materia procuri anche notevoli soddisfazioni uditive.
Merito anche della scelta di cambiare in modo continuo l’interazione tra gli strumenti (violino e piano inclusi) che fa sÃ¬ che la tessitura appaia piÃ¹ complicata di quanto non lo sia in realtÃ .
All Music Guide
By : Steven Loewy
* * * *
This is the group Return of the New Things second recording, the first being issued several years earlier on the Leo label.
Those who appreciate the high quality of these unabashedly uncompromising pieces will be unconcerned that the so-called "New Thing" has been around continuously for decades at the time of these sessions, and instead focus on the music, not the semantics.
Dan Warburton, who plays piano and violin for the quartet and also wrote the liner notes (and who is better known for his exemplary work as a journalist), calls the genre of performance "improvised free jazz," but whatever it is called the results enthrall. Those familiar with the quirky, staccato-infused, iconoclastic blowing of Jean-Luc Guionnet will recognize his primitive sound from the get-go, as his pre-bop snarls and anti-bop phrasing are riddled with a strained emotional fervor.
There are times, particularly on the long opening track when the ghost of Albert Ayler and the shadow of Cecil Taylor raise their heads. That these comparisons can even be made is a tribute to some incredible finger work from Warburton who is the "real" thing on his primary instrument, the piano.
Listeners accustomed to the (mostly) European post-Coltrane embrace of free improvisation should be taken by the harsh divergences that run throughout : the altered tempos on "Traque," the hard-hitting exclamations on "Scent," and the occasional changes in volume that sometimes seem contrived. Warburton’s powerful presence is particularly strong on "Traque," where he is permitted to stretch at length.
There appears to be a conscious effort to build slowly (and sometimes not so slowly), with an evolutionary consistency throughout. Much time is allotted to solos, and they are uniformly superb, with a special nod to Warburton’s CT-like clusters that at their best come across like meteor showers, and to Guionnet’s weird but enticing disjointedness.
Somehow it all works remarkably well though as is so often the case those not accustomed to "free" improvisation will find this music very abstract and difficult to follow.
For the rest of us, well, how about a glass of champagne ?
NorrkÃ¶pings Tidningar (SE)
By : Uno Ohlsson
* * * *
Behind the name "Return Of The New Thing" hides a free playing French quartet who has musically anarchism on the menu.
In the liner notes, Dan Warburton discusses if their music should be labelled as "free jazz" or "free improvisation" and comes to the conclusion that "improvised free jazz" should be a proper label.
I also agree to their definition ; "music which manage to dance merrily on the edge of the abyss".
The members of the quartet make chock attacks to the ears of the listeners.
Dare to listen to the piano- and violin player Dan Warburton, bassist Francois Fuchs, saxophonist Jean-Luc Guionnet and drummer Edward Perraud and your picture of the musical world will be changed !
All About Jazz, Italy
By : Vittorio Lo Conte
Dan Warburton al piano e al violino, Francois Fuchs al contrabbasso, Jean-Luc Guionnet al sax soprano e al sax alto e Edward Perraud alla batteria sono quattro musicisti che hanno chiamato il proprio gruppo Return of the New Thing. Dopo un album ben accolto dalla critica per la Leo Records si presentano adesso con Traque, registrato per la Ayler Records.
Si tratta della registrazione del loro concerto tenuto al Festival Jazz di Mulhouse nel 2000, insieme ad un brano - "Traque" - di quasi mezzÂ´ora registrato successivamente in studio. Come dice il nome del gruppo si tratta di musica con le proprie radici nella New Thing degli anni sessanta. Assoli travolgenti di Guionnet sui suoi sassofoni, clusters sul pianoforte e la batteria e il contrabbasso che spingono tutti in avanti con un drive inarrestabile. La loro musica non Ã¨ comunque solo questo : in alcuni momenti dellÂ´esibizione live al Festival di Mulhouse praticano anche lÂ´improvvisazione radicale di tradizione inglese, con suoni che si cercano e si raggrumano alla ricerca di un minimo comun denominatore e di un codice dÂ´espressione. Sono questi i due poli attraverso i quali la musica di questa band si sviluppa.
Peace warriors (fr)
By ThÃ©o Jarrier
Un quart de siÃ¨cle plus tard, quatre vÃ©ritables fauteurs de troubles, sauvageons indisciplinÃ©s, europÃ©ens et blancs qui plus est, biberonnÃ©s au disques Byg/Actuel et rÃ©pondant au nom de RETURN OF THE NEW THING comme une honteuse provocation, nous interpelle avec un second album "Traque" (Ayler Records / Improjazz), d’une dÃ©ferlante tout aussi impressionnante que celle de leurs aÃ®nÃ©s, noirs et amÃ©ricains.
Imperturbable et lucide, le quartet, composÃ© de DAN WARBURTON (piano), FRANCOIS FUCHS (contrebasse), JEAN-LUC GUIONNET (saxophone alto, soprano) et EDWARD PERRAUD (batterie), libÃ¨re Ã travers cinq piÃ¨ces, une Ã©nergie constante, un flux permanent, riches aussi de respirations, de ponctuations, leur permettant d’Ã©conomiser leur souffle pour mieux rebondir sur des jets de sonoritÃ©s puissantes. "Traque" est un enregistrement qui contient de prÃ©cieux instants de grÃ¢ce.
By : Jason Ferguson
The name deceptively invokes a reprise of ’60s Afro-improv stylings when, in fact, this quartet is far more closely aligned with the Teutonic skronk that emerged from the post-New Thing European movement.
Yes, in the same way that Shepp and Ornette and Coltrane developed improvisational flurries that swirled chaotically while remaining anchored to a fleeting melodic design, ROTNT allows each player to explore — sometimes concurrently — their various improvisational ideas while occasionally revisiting what could loosely be called a "theme."
But the harsh fire each player invokes — especially the key-pounding of Dan Warburton and the heels-in sax work of Jean-Luc Guionnet — is of that distinctly European style that the FMP crowd knows so well.
Wildly invigorating and emotionally evocative, free jazz needs more wild-eyed performances like this.
* * * * Â½
Poanta je v tem, da "Nova Stvar" ravno ni preprosta. Narobe, zgodovinsko formirani heterogeni "stvor" je kontradiktorno pokazal na vse protislovne ravni godbotvornosti. Bend v Parizu Å¾ivecih muzicistov iz razlicnih vetrov in pestrih pedigrejev si je torej nadel ime "Povratek nove stvari" in zgovorno izprical svoj dolg muziciranju, smeri v jazzu, ki jo je za takÅ¡no oklical Ornette Coleman. Toda, sledec briljantni spremni besedi bendovega prvenca za Leo Records (1999), ki jo spisal Gerar Rouy, velja, da tedaj glasbeniki niso povsem zavrnili vnaprejÅ¡njo melodijsko organizacijo in ritemsko regularnost. So pa zavracali vse, kar je jazz postal : konformizem, akademskost, predvidljivost, institucionalizacijo. Aktualnost "nove stvari" z njej inherentno utopistiko in vsemi spodletelostmi vred je ravno v tej zgodovinski drÅ¾i.
V bendu so pianist in violonist Dan Wartburton, basist Francois Fuchs, saksofonist Jean-Luc Guionnet in bobnar Edward Perraud. Igrajo, spontano, instantno skladajo, razgrajujejo nastavljene vzorce, reorganizirajo gradivo skoz igro solov, tria, duov. Podlaga je Å¡iroka, muzika je divja, a ne bezlja tjavdan. Zgodovinske reference ostajajo Archie Shepp, Lacy, Cecil Taylor, sodobne Zornove pogruntavÅ¡cine, hrupni avatnrockovski obronki. In pac - dotik, refleksija, igra vseh Å¡tirih. Evforicno so ob njih pisali o novem vzniku nove francoske scene. To je brezveze. Prej gre za posamicne obronke, individualne posege, ki se znajdejo v relativno plodnih pogojih za takÅ¡no muziciranje, ki je "novo" in kar traja - dlje kot forme, od katerih se je svojcas skuÅ¡al odlimati prvotni free jazz. Tanova za Å¡vedsko Aylerjevo daje veliko, dovolj, da razvajenci in spremljevalci Å¾anrske "kodiranosti" freejazza - kar je lep paradoks - ob njih zastriÅ¾emo z uÅ¡esi. Redki so takÅ¡ni nabriteÅ¾i.
By Joe Milazzo
Licks, riffs, and gnarled, bronchial-purging hollers on alto sax ; crippled bass ostinatos ; drumming that circles around and around recognizable patterns of propulsion and accompaniment (ride cymbal action, press rolls) ; heavily chordal piano style that nonetheless eschews conventional tonality : Return of the New Thing makes music that, however spontaneously realized, relies on repetition - internal and external.
The cooperative’s very name establishes the musicians’ individual and collective responsibilities towards a very specific set of musical customs older than perhaps some of the individuals participating in this group activity. Its not enough to point out the historical irony of an "avant garde tradition", to note how old, in real years, the "new thing" is. For this does not answer the question of why the "new thing" continues to intrigue musicians and appeal to (admittedly, quite small) audiences.
And I suppose the listener won’t find any answers here unless they have either a very strong sympathy for or a powerful antipathy against this music. Myself, I remain unmoved from basic neutrality (which is not synonymous with ambivalence, though it feels that way sometimes), though I have tried over the course of several auditions of this recording to form a firm opinion of the proceedings it documents : the title track - and longest work - is a studio performance from 2002 ; the remaining four are drawn from an engagement at the Festival Jazz Ã¡ Mulhouse from 2000. There is no question that these four musicians - FranÃ§ois Fuchs on bass, Edward Perraud on drums, Jean-Luc Guionnet on (primarily) alto and soprano saxophone, and the always-eloquent Dan Warburton on piano (he does not make much use of his violin in this ensemble) - are all technically adept, committed to their chosen aesthetic, and well-matched in terms of their listening sensitivity. But what these five pieces lack is a certain amount of character and context. Perhaps I reveal here just how unimaginative a listener I am, but to me the trope "new thing" resonates with a whole set of cultural and historical connotations.
Unlike the French New Wave in cinema, the new thing was never about pure style. To treat the music of Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, Archie Shepp, and the first generation of European "free jazz" players (Peter BrÃ¶tzmann, Marcello Melis, Chris McGregor) as such is to bowdlerize that music. So that in gazing backwards as this music, the players open themselves not just to inspiration, but to danger as well. Huh ? Well, the 2000 pieces are more distinctively "out" and yet more conventional in terms of what going on in improvised today.
As Warburton himself discloses (confesses ?) in his annotations to this release, the band does somehow split the difference between "free jazz" and "free improvisation". Passages of Art Ensemble of Chicago-like hushed sound experimentation, oafish figures maneuvering tiny, delicate objects of silver and porcelain around in a room whose brilliant lighting is silence. The tension is not without its comic aspects. Not so suddenly, "energy music" tumult is unleashed, but it does not manage to reach a status of "startling". "Scent" a good example : there are passages that sound almost modal, melismatic muezzin-cries on soprano sax, the slowly accretion of forward momentum, but for much of its length it’s a discharge of noises that jostle and scrape against one another but remain largely inert. Susurration ; tap ; rattle ; chime ; thump ; squink ; klonk ; howl ; etc.
Looking back over the performance’s expanses from a retrospective vantage, one sees how sectional, even episodic it is. It could have been seven or eight different performances as easily as it could have been one. This is not to say that it lacks some unity, but that a certain amount of arbitrariness is built into the processes by which it was made. One cannot disavow linear story-telling techniques, however, and expect to retain the exact dramatic potential that old-fashioned exposition-conflict-complication-climax-resolution-denouement narrative produces. Yet it seems to me sometimes as if inherent in much strictly non-idiomatic free improvisation, from the Maneri’s to AMM, is the desire to retain precisely this kind of dynamic but without having to sully itself with the oh-so-square and obvious means by which it is most easily achieved.
So that, though we’ve heard it all before in some wise, attitudinally, even philosophically, there’s something more risky about the tenor sax excoriations of a Charles Gayle or the sheer megatonnage of Borbetomagus, which deny any sort of arc. There is nothing but drive, unforgivingly starting on high and never wavering. To paraphrase Nigel Tufnel, there’s no moving back and forth between one and ten, with all the drama that implies. There’s only setting it at eleven and leaving it there. No anticipation, no nuance, no lesson (but perhaps a caution). Even Archie Shepp’s massive 60’s medleys, which "Scent" superficially resembles, powerfully enact this fascination with only one connotation of "extreme". This is further born out by the studio / title track - the operative metaphor for this release, despite other compositions entitled "Trictrac" and "Babil", is not locomotion, but inhibitions - which is pure energy music, quite dense, with Warburton especially impressive, creating truly inspired chromatic sequences at a number of junctures during the performance.
But the moment the music lets up, pauses, becomes an expression of what Warburton describes as "playing against an opponentâ€¦ [and not] play[ing] with someone," the music feels calculated. I wonder never characterize it as disingenuous, mind you, but the music does sometime seem to substitute over-analysis for the supple interplay of reflexes.
Maybe the distinction Warburton draws between "free jazz" and "free improvisation" is not so useful after all. Or the line just masks a deep, unbridgeable chasm. The group cannot seem to occupy both territories at once. Perhaps we can attribute this to the "classic" horn-plus-rhythm-section instrumentation, or to the constrictions of an overarching conceptual ulteriority.
To answer a question you may be waiting to have acknowledged by a "reviewer" : yes, this is a "good" CD. In a number of ways, it is a superb CD, spacious and tuneful in ways "energy music", with its 120 fps [frames per second], jagged abstraction often is not. But what this CD also proves is that, as is only fitting for the times in which we live, it is much easier to reference a tradition than it is to honor it, extend it, found a new tradition upon that which it is comforting to call old.
Stocholms Fria Tidning
By Leif Carlsson
HÃ¥ll Ã¶ronen Ã¶ppna !
Dra inte nÃ¥gra fÃ¶rhastade slutsatser om hur en skiva lÃ¥ter pÃ¥ grund av namnet pÃ¥ gruppen. Return of the New Thing fick sitt namn av misstag. SÃ¥ hette deras fÃ¶rsta skiva, men det uppfattades som deras namn. Men musik frÃ¥n Frankrike Ã¤r inte vardagsmat hÃ¤r i norra Europa, sÃ¥ ta chansen att lyssna. Det Ã¤r alltid nyttigt att utsÃ¤tta sig fÃ¶r det okÃ¤nda.
Kvartetten finns alltsÃ¥ i Frankrike och tre Ã¤r fransmÃ¤n, den fjÃ¤rde britt. Vad som Ã¤r franskt kan man fÃ¶rstÃ¥s fundera Ã¶ver. Musiken Ã¤r akustisk och ny. Ny i den betydelsen att musikerna inte fÃ¶rsÃ¶ker spela i en sÃ¤rskild stil som redan existerar. "The New Thing" i gruppnamnet, till exempel, avser en sÃ¤rskild sorts jazz, som var ny nÃ¤r den kom fÃ¶r 40 Ã¥r sen. Det hÃ¤r handlar om nÃ¥t annat.
Musikerna har sina bakgrunder bland annat i nutida komposition och experimentteater. Musiken har den storform och sammanhÃ¥llenhet som finns hos komponerad musik, den friskhet i spelsÃ¤ttet som stammar frÃ¥n jazzen och den ljudnyfikenhet som fri improvisation bidragit med. Det svÃ¤nger pÃ¥ alla mÃ¶jliga sÃ¤tt, det Ã¤r starkt, det Ã¤r svagt. Rytmerna hÃ¤mtas frÃ¥n flera hÃ¥ll, snabbt som elektronisk dansmusik och lÃ¥ngsamt bÃ¶ljande, storm-Ã¥ska och stilla regndroppar. PÃ¥ samma sÃ¤tt som en symfoni kan vara en ljudfilm, en berÃ¤ttelse, bildar de fem styckena pÃ¥ skivan en sammanhÃ¥llen helhet.
Vi bjuds en vindlande fÃ¤rd dÃ¤r de enskilda musikerna sticker ut dÃ¥ och dÃ¥, men det Ã¤r orkesterklangen som Ã¤r gruppens viktigaste uttryck, och gÃ¶r dem unika. Kanske Ã¤r det detta som Ã¤r, om inte franskt sÃ¥ Ã¥tminstone europeiskt. StrÃ¤nghet och formalism saknas, tonerna dansar fram.