October 1994 A4 40 pages
UK ELECTRONICA 1994 - Conway Hall, London 27/8/94
original (last 130 copies)
Example article extract
JEAN-FRANÇOIS PAUVROS / JAC BERROCAL / CATALOGUE
A moment of good fortune, here was a chance to fill in some gaps in the Gilbert Artman article in Audion #24, and also throw a bit more light on the group Catalogue. On our recent trips to Paris, thanks to the ever enthusiastic Gilles Yéprémian (manager of Urban Sax and former manager of Catalogue) we were able to meet all three stable members of this most adventurous trio: Jac Berrocal, Jean-François Pauvros and Gilbert Artman. I've already extolled the talents of Gilbert, and you can also read an in depth report on the current activities of him and his band Urban Sax elsewhere in this issue. But, what about the other two members?
A most radical and unpredictable musician, Jean-François has been a figure on the French underground scene for well over two decades, as one of the most creative of guitarists in Europe. Naturally his roots are in jazz, but much of his music has been totally unclassifiable, especially so his early album with GABY BIZIEN called NO MAN'S LAND (Un Deux Trois N° 6) and not least his recent CD release MUSIQUES POUR ANNE DREYFUS (see the review in Audion #26, page 30), an extraordinarily strange, abstract and inventive album, a million miles away from the free-jazz ramblings of his early-70's work.
We met Jean-François one night when in Paris with Urban Sax manager Gilles Yéprémian, and talked about various things whilst in a Moroccan restaurant. It seems however, that the reason Jean-François doesn't release many albums is because he feels there's too much music being released as it is, and he only wants to make available the best he has to offer. Admirable indeed, however (as Gilles pointed out) Jean-François is incredibly eclectic, witness his album HAMSTER ATTACK (Nato CD 1544), it couldn't be much more varied with avant-garde, jazz and freaky almost rock pieces, it's very haphazard. Some of it is brilliant, but then totally out of character are a few tracks featuring a female vocalist who takes the music dangerously close to soul. It's an album of sharp jarring contrasts and challenges that are bewilderingly put together. It may be on a jazz label, but very little of it is what could be simply called jazz!
But, ever the experimenter, he's always keen to push on. He's quite an effervescent and jovial character really; being overjoyed that we liked his last album, he went on to say 'the next one is better, a ballet that was first performed just two weeks ago, there's all sorts of people involved, like Rico a Jamaican trumpeter, and ... also I'm now experimenting with a lot of sounds using contact microphones, making explosive sounds.' Talking about Catalogue, Gilles insisted that he'd get a word in, saying that 'Catalogue were the craziest band', and that almost anything could happen when they played live, and often did! Jean-François expressed that Catalogue were a kind of release for all the musicians involved, a chance to break the rules and be recklessly creative, and because of this they often got very confused reactions at jazz festivals!
Unfortunately we weren't able to see Jean-François live, though he'd just played together with Defecit des Annees Anterieures a couple of nights before, on what he described as a most radical concert, but he was very enthusiastic about the many projects he has lined up in the future. One such project was Rhys Chatham's 101 Guitars, who we were fortunate enough to be able to experience when they played in London in August (see review elsewhere).
A true bon vivant, Jac Berrocal is quite an overpowering and jolly character, who really loves life and his music, and it's easy to see why he's so popular with other musicians on the Paris jazz and experimental music scenes.
I'd been familiar with Jac's music for many years, originally via his album PARALLÈLES, purchased upon the recommendation of Steven Stapleton who revered it as a masterpiece. Then of course there was his work with Nurse With Wound. Admittedly Jac has done music that I don't like at all, but I was really pleasantly surprised when I recently heard his debut MUSIQ MUSIQ from the early 70's, a most unusual spacious ethnic avant-garde album. Ever unpredictable, as shown on the recent CD release FATAL ENCOUNTERS, I had no idea what to expect from him live!
Jac Berrocal 'Serenity' at the "Banlieues Bleues Festival" -
9 April 1994
Such a crazed spectacle, radical and full of surprises, I was really surprised that the audience seemed to love it. And, a rarity for a support act, they came back for an encore!
Afterwards Jac was in high spirits, and was quite amazed by the audience. It would seem that he sometimes gets a hostile response to his music, but tonight he'd got a great buzz out of it. As seems customary at such events, this being the last day of the festival, there was a big celebratory buffet laid-on afterwards. Much fuss was being made over Max Roach, they even awarded him with a medal for his services to jazz. Mostly however, this was a chance for a chat with various musicians and people from the French record industry, and also sample the food, wine, and... champagne!
Jac Berrocal interview
So, next day, we'd arranged to meet Jac for an interview at his home. Naturally, after such a night he was a touch fatigued, and we were repeatedly interrupted by phone calls from various French jazz magazines who were perplexed by both Jac's and Max Roach's performances, for opposing reasons! Of course this greatly influenced the flow and subject matter of this interview. Discussions about the merits of Max Roach's music aren't really relevant here, and also Jac's limited English and our basic knowledge of French meant that the interview wasn't as deep as we'd have liked, though we did gleam some most interesting views and information.
Well, first off Jac, you obviously enjoyed the concert last night!
Well, it was difficult, 'cause I think most of the audience came to see Max Roach, that's understandable as he's one of the last original jazz drummers. Nearly all the other historic drummers are dead. Then, with my music, it's not really evident that it's classic jazz!
If it's jazz at all, there's jazz in there but also classical music, and almost anything else one could imagine!
Yes, and for the audience I think it's not easy. Because for them, it's jazz jazz jazz! And I'm strange, very very strange! Not jazz, not rock, or so... But, I think they enjoyed it.
It was very different to anything we'd heard you do before!
Very different to Catalogue. Catalogue were even less jazz. Have you met Gilbert?
Yes, we met him yesterday, he was doing a session with a new group. They did all sorts of things from calypso to psychedelic, with Gilbert playing drums. Amazing! ...
Article by Alan Freeman
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