Armonicord – Esprits De Sel LP
French saxophonist Jouk Minor, born 1947, played on essential free-jazz releases of the 1970s, including Michel Portal’s Splendid Yzlment in 1971, Bernard Vitet’s La Guêpe or Pierre Favre’s Candles Of Vision, both 1972, Alan Silva’s Seasons and The Shout, 1970 and 1979 respectively, and later appeared on Un Drame Musical Instantané’s À travail égal salaire égal in 1982.
Minor’s own group Armonicord, formed in 1973, first included Bernard Vitet, Kent Carter and Rachid Houari. For the sessions of the band’s unique 1977 LP, the line-up had changed so as to expand the wind section and incorporate trombone and harpsichord players, which was to be Armonicord’s typical sound signature. The cover of Esprits De Sel, or Salt Spirits, opens to reveal a Jean Tinguely sculpture whose structure is used by Jouk Minor to draw each track’s graphic score on the front cover. The disc was the sole release of both Armonicord and L’Electrobande label.
This LP comprises 3 long tracks, of which the first one is a straight, effusive and free-flowing free jazz effort in the style of Alan Silva’s Celestial Communication Orchestra, while the other 2 are more complex, varied and less categorizable musical endeavors. Track #2 Premier Jour, especially, is a strange alchemy of harpsichord, steel drums, mourning bass horns in unison, and guembri – a Gnawa, goat gut stringed instrument, played by Jouk Minor. This pensive, semi-improvised elegy goes through many false starts and dead ends, but rewards the listener in eschewing predictable jazz gimmicks or other familiar traits, for that matter. On tr.#3 as well, Odile Bailleux’s harpsichord brings a unique, baroque touch to the proceedings. The saxophone is sometimes heard in the background of the mix, with harpsichord or drums at the front. The drummer uses a varied set of percussions including bells, steel drums, rain sticks or gongs. The meditative mood is maintained through various atmospheres and instrument combinations. Great disc, among the best French free jazz has to offer, along Operation Rhino, for instance.
01 Deuxième Jour (11:45)
02 Premier Jour (11:16)
03 Troisième Jour (21:50)
Jouk Minor, saxophones & wind instruments
Jean Querlier, saxophones & wind instruments
Josef Traindl, trombone
Odile Bailleux, harpsichord
Christian Lete, drums