Monday, February 8, 2016

Jacques Thollot - 1978 - Cinq Hops

Jacques Thollot 
Cinq Hops

01. On The Mountain (For Michèle) (4:00)
02. Four Four Five Eight (1:41)
03. Sur 12 Notes, Approximativement (4:19)
04. Turning On My Mind (0:41)
05. Aprelude (7:59)
06. Rush (0:17)
07. Seven (Bring Me So High) (4:40)
08. Promenade Grand Siècle (0:47)
09. Sur 9 Temps (0:48)
10. Gomind (2:58)
11. Cinq Hops (5:34)
12. Une Certaine Lumière Tourangelle (2:29)
13. Trois Ans Devant, Trois Ans Au-Delà, Un An Déjà (1:51)

- Jean-Paul Céléa / bass (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 13)
- Michel Grailler / clavinet (4, 5, 7, 11, 13)
- Jacques Thollot / drums, electric piano, bass, percussion, clavinet(1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9 to 11, 13)
- François Couturier / electric piano (1 to 5, 8, 10, 12, 13)
- Chris Howard / flute (3, 4, 12)
- François Jeanneau / sporano saxophone (1, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 13)
- Elise Ross / vocals (1, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11)

Of Thollot's late 70's discography, Cinq hops is probably the best or most estimed and probably his most accessible as well. First of all there is singing (Elise Ross), but second, it's almost as if Thollot was the leader of a group as well, although giving you the names wouldn't get you very far, unless you're deeply involved in the French jazz scene. Third, this is probably the album of his most easily to classify, other than avant-garde: Jazz Rock-Zeuhl with a touch of RIO. The album's title is a play on words of the jazz syncopation with Cinq Hops, and the abstract sleeve artwork.

The first part of the album is made of longer (usually sung) tracks that are separated by shorter (from 17 seconds to 101 seconds) instrumental pieces, sometimes a single instrument, others short bizarre montage (Rush) or orchestrated bits (Rush & Grand siècle). Starting on the classical-inspired On The Mountain (the bald one is my guess), with Elise Ross' singing over an electric piano, the album startles by its succession of weird turns in musical direction with the Four Four Five Eight (time sig) of a keyboard and drum duet and once more with Turning On My Mind (probably the most spell-binding track of the album that has some definitive Zeuhl influences, thollot sounding like Vander on this track. The album's longest track Aprelude is a great 8-minutes upbeat piece of music centred on Céléa's stand-up bass (and even includes a solo) as well as Thollot's drums. Nowhere is more evident the Zeuhl influence in Elise Ross' singing than in Seven, where she's countered first, then enhanced by a soprano sax.

But now well into the flipside, the succession of longer and shorter piece is now interrupted by having two short pieces in a row, the second of which presents the wild drumbeat & percussion duo Sur 9 Temps. Gomind ventures into semi-operatic singing, accompanied with a sax and bass, somehow reminiscent of Debussy. The title track song that resumes best the album's different elements, a bit of a conclusion avant la lettre. Lumière Tourangelle borders Univers Zero and Art Zoyd's realm and the finale does the same on piano.

Although still a bizarre album by normal standard, Cinq Hops is definitely the best entry point in Thollot's discography, and certainly his best work as well, although I have yet to revisit his previous album, not heard in some 20 years and I didn't get it at the time. Here, today, I finally "get" Cinq Hops' rich realm and lack of musical barriers