All sorts of jazz, free jazz and improv. Never for money, always for love.
Jan Strom, founder of Ayler Records, always used to say that his favourite outings on his label were those recorded live at Stockholm's Glenn Miller Café. I imagine that Stéphane Berland, who's taken over the label since Jan retired and relocated it to France, might have liked to say the same thing about the recordings made in Marc Fèvre's Atelier Tampon-Ramier in Paris's XIe arrondissement, a gallery space upstairs and dingy cellar club downstairs full of rickety old chairs (recovered from an old cinema?) and hundreds of wine bottles covered in cobwebs (in addition to running the gallery, Marc does a brisk trade in – how shall I put it? – original organic wine). Alas, that won't be possible. At the end of last year Marc (who you can see arguing with Sunny Murray in front the gallery in Antoine Prum's excellent Sunny's Time Now, which I hope you'll get to see if you haven't done so already) finally lost a long-running battle with the powers that be and no longer has the right to put on concerts in his gallery. Shame, because if they were all as good as Snus, Berland would be on to a real winner.
There's still a Swedish connection here, in the form of bassist
Joel Grip and trumpeter Niklas Barnö (co-organisers of both the
Hagenfesten festival and the Umlaut label), who join forces with
drummer Didier Lasserre in seven tracks of scorching free jazz
recorded in Marc's basement in June last year. Grip and Barnö of course
know each other's game pretty well, but Lasserre – who's been
phenomenally active recently and making quite a name for himself as
one of France's top free drummers – is very good at tripping them up.
Grip does his best to steer clear of the flying snare drums and
cymbals (Lasserre actually manages to sound like both Sunny Murray and
Milford Graves at the same time – no mean feat) by sticking to the
low end, but Barnö pulls him back into the fray with some excitingly
dirty playing. Solid proof that free jazz is still alive and well, not
only in the old folks' home of the Vision Festival, where these guys
could easily hold their own against the local talent. We live in hope.
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