21 February 2008

Francois Tusques - Free Jazz

Continuing with the Francois Tusques postings and backing up a couple of years, this was recorded on 26 October 1965 at the Comedie de Champs Elysee in Paris and issued on the small Moloudji label the year after. The pic above is clipped from an Ebay auction and the disc ended up above my price range, to say the least. So we're settling for a cd reissue on the In Situ label from 1991 (at a considerably nicer price). I believe the cd is by and large out of print, though I imagine it's possible to pick up copies in France still. This came from Japan, btw.

This was at the birth of French free jazz and involved a number of musicians who were to put their distinct footprint on the scene in years to come. Francois Tusques has been partially documented here already and Michel Portal, Bernard Vitet and Bernard (Beb) Guerin were to play together in Michel Portal Unit in the 70s (we'll get to that in due course) and they were to play hosts and partners to many arriving from the other side of the Atlantic later on.

This is a very mature and cohesive outfit for a first record I find. I've no idea whether they had played toghether before or for how long, but it sounds like they know each other pretty well. The music veers from arranged to improvised passages in a very smooth manner and it's hard to know what is what. There are hardly any extended solo sections on this record, time signatures change rapidly, pieces of melody are picked up, tossed around and disappear again. Instruments intertwine throughout the entire record and everybody is on tiptoe and on the alert to what's going on around them. Decidedly "free", yet retaining melody, structure, rhythm, but never for too long before somebody comes up with another idea. Remarkable, innovatory! This was at the birth of European free jazz, yet of a different kind from that emerging on the west side of the Atlantic. But one can imagine someone like Dolphy fitting into this company (and maybe Joe Harriott, too).


1. Description automatique d'un paysage désolé 1
2. La tour Saint Jacques
3. Description automatique d'un paysage désolé 2
4. Souvenir de l'oiseau 1
5. Souvenir de l'oiseau 2
6. Souvenir de l'oiseau 3

The cd adds tracks 5 and 6 to the original lp version.


Bernard Vitet - trumpet
Francois Jeanneau - saxophone and flute
Michel Portal - bass clarinet
Charles Saudrais - percussion
Bernard Guérin - bass
Francois Tusques - piano

Interesting piece of trivia - Colette Magny was artistic director for the initial release on Moloudji.

In coming posts, we shall get to the birth of the German free jazz scene as well (and some Scandinavian excursions), but later for that ...
Disregard the mp3s in the first comment - working mp3s here:


kinabalu said...

Ipod quality version here:


Audio freak quality version here:




centrifuge said...

hmmm, looks tasty...

am i the only one who thinks you guys are going a bit too fast at the moment?! good stuff is gonna get missed!

Slothrop said...

Thanks, Kinabalu. I can't wait to get to this.

It's a funny thing to say under the circumstances, but I'm with Cent on this one -- I've downloaded so much great stuff from you guys in the last month that I can't even remember it all, much less listen to it. An embarrassment of riches!

In all seriousness, maybe we should make a collective effort to talk about the individual albums a month or so downstream, after we've all had time to listen and process.

1009 said...

sure, slow down, but leave this one up!

i'd be happy to contribute to discussion too, later on. of course i'm not going to get into: 1) braxton (way too dangerous waters), and; 2) laswell (already got myself in trouble there).

dalemcbdnl said...

So, 1009, you are an anti-Braxton heretic? A daring disclosure in this context!

Centrifuge is right -- this looks tasty. AND, you have my "undivided" attention with your steady stream of delectables. I'll cope with your speed even though I'm a free rs user. Since Jizz Relics is gone I have a "little" more time.

1009 said...

nonono! if anything i'm way on the other side of the braxton issue. jeez, we need to clear this one up! i just meant i'm not going to get into discussion of his work b/c it seems that the lines there have been drawn pretty sharply. matter of fact i was listening to the braxton bygs this afternoon (pacific time us) & digging them more than i ever had. even the goofy stuff (read: baloons). i'm less a fan of his more confident (at least what's been called confident here) stuff, say the mid-80s stuff, but it's still substantial aesthetic work.

i guess: consider me a fan.

dalemcbdnl said...

Hey 1009, sorry if my teasing style was misinterpreted. On the other hand, I think I may be less discriminating than you appear to be (with regard to Braxton's incredible out put). What I mean is that I can only think of a few of his albums and live performances that I do not REALLY like. I guess I'm least thrilled by his attempts at playing highly melodic music. I just don't think his pacing, timbre, and vibrato work well with music that is "supposed" to sound "rhapsodic" or "sweet." Of course it could be that I just don't much care for "rhapsodic" music. In any case, I imagine we are basically the same in the sense that we ARE both serious Braxton fans. I have lost count of how many "Braxtons" I have BUT it is in the neighborhood of 100. Maybe a few more -- well, definitely a few more.

But, please understand that I like to kid. I just thought it was kinda funny that you were worrying both about how your "poison" label of Laswell had been taken and, evidently, what saying anything less than favorable about the Braxton canon might evoke. Anybody "getting" the '69 and '70 BYGs is on the right track in my book.


Anonymous said...

Many big thanks, Kinabalu! This Francois Tusques is one I've never heard.

Boromir said...

Thanks kinabalu. This appeared on a blog about a year ago but at a very modest bitrate, so thanks for the upgrade.

ubu said...

wow, thank you so very, very much for this one! never had a chance to hear this (while I've had a needle drop and a crappy mp3 version of the previous two Tusques albums).

kinabalu said...

Good to see people digging this. It's one that grows on you and definitely bears repeated listenings (and not at all inaccessible). People into Dolphy and the more experimental sides of Harriott will appreciate this one. Pesonally, I'm fascinated with Michel Portal and more generally, the use of the bass clarinet in jazz. Anyone into Rudi Mahall - a recent "discovery"?

On the volume of postings: Well, this blog has grown to six very active posters - Flux'us seems to be quiet, though - so the volume is bound to reflect that basic fact. But you're not obliged to pick up everything ;-)

ubu said...

Mahall is a fine musician!

I saw him live twice, once with "Die Enttäuschung" & Alexander von Schlippenbach, doing the complete Monk in two consecutive late night concerts - terrific, both him and Axel Dörner on trumpet! (Schlippenbach was superfluous on the first night and ok on the second, though... it's not his project anyway, the arrangements all were made by Dörner and Mahall, as far as I know, he just jumped on the wagon and he's got the biggest name, so it's only logical he gets main billing.)

The other concert was a quartet with Nils Wogram and the b/d team of Die Enttäuschung (both concerts took place at the same festival).
I was pretty impressed by Mahall and Wogram. Saw Wogram again once, since then, and he was even better!

1009 said...

i really dug this the first time through, but there were a bunch of static bursts (not sure how to describe) on the last few tracks. anyone else have this problem?

Tantris said...

kinabulu - thanks for this - I am looking forward to listening to it this weekend.

Anonymous said...

Yes, 1009, I had the same problem with the mp3 download. So I abandoned it and did the flac download - which is perfect.

centrifuge said...


in that case i may wait and see if a "fixed" mp3 turns up ;-)

ubu, are you sure about that? schlippenbach has been playing monk for years and years, almost as long as mengelberg.

1009 said...

ok cent, in that case i can do an mp3 conversion. it might take me a bit (possibly as long as a few days) to do it as i have a friend coming into town. but who knows, i think he's the kind that would understand.

Anonymous said...

Kinabalu / Ubu:

Rudi Mahall? He's OK, but, me, I'll take Michel Pilz any time.

kinabalu said...

Ah, that's quality control for ya! I did check the flac which was OK, but not the mp3 which was not.

Anyhow, did a quick conversion of the functioning flac files and has posted the mp3s again. It doesn't look as if the blog allows you the opportunity of editing your own comments, so I'll just revise the main post accordingly.


sotise said...

to anyone who cares there is a magnificent album by francois jeanneau(the featured saxophonist here) from 1975 ' une bien curieuse planete' not exactly free jazz ,(although at times very free) this is notable for some very odd concrete treatments in places, lots of fairly varied analogue synth textures too.
great band.
jean francois jenny-clark-db
michel grailler- a great french pianist who worked with lacy, shepp and braxton, although he recorded with neither of the latter two.
a minor classic.
jacques thollots 'watch the devil go' also on mutant sounds ,and featuring jeanneau is great too.
i thinks its( une bien curieuse planete) @320 lame

jazzme said...

Good question to all Nihilist Spasm Band your thoughts , dislikes , likes anyone ever seen them . They live right in my backyard . I have had to sit through many a performance at Eric Stach's free music nights . For those who might know who Eric Stach is I will have some performances of his one with Peter Kowald soon he is giving them to a very select few and I am fortunate enough to be getting one . I will attempt to post it or send one of you a file in a email Steve

Tantris said...

Managed to listen to this properly today - it is excellent. Are there other Tusques recordings worth tracking down?

unitstructure said...

Thanks for sharing this.Strong sounding group,especially Portal.

upkerry14 said...

I have four Maarten Altena LPs that have not made it to CD and are pretty hard to find
(Pisa,Veranda,Tel and Op Stap). Is there an interest in these before I bother digitizing them?
thanks for the tunes. Bill

teddywilson said...

First class 1965 free jazz.
Deep and enjoyable.
Thanks a lot for this marvel.

JoeP said...

Quite a coincidence, I found a review in Paris Transatlantic of this album a couple days ago and here it is. Never even heard of it previously. Just Fantastic Music - A Serious Treat - extra thanks for the flacs.

machinemusic.org » Blog Archive » Shandar’s Intercommunal Music: Free Jazz with Francois Tusques and Sunny Murray said...

[...] as an innovative musician. In 1965, he contributed to the birth of a French experimental jazz scene by releasing the aptly titled Free Jazz. [...]

Andreas said...

re-up would be nice!

Nick said...

You can buy it on cd now at