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Francois Tusques - Intercommunal Music (1971)

France has always had close ties to the United States with regards to jazz. Not long after the music was first recorded in the US in the 1920s, a following for it began across the Atlantic. Of course, Django Reinhardt, who spent most of his life in France and is one of the most celebrated guitarists in jazz (or any genre, for that matter), was the first non-American to be a major jazz innovator. (Reinhardt, along with Joseph Reinhardt (his brother), Stéphane Grappelli, Roger Chaput and Louis Vola formed one of the most significant jazz groups in European history - the Quintette du Hot Club de France - in 1934.)

Born in 1938 in Paris, Tusques is a man with hardly any formal musical training, and it was not until the age of eighteen that he began studying piano. “I had only one week of lessons; after that, I was on my own - you could say an ‘autodidact’. I learned to play mostly by ear, especially from the drummers.”** These formative experiences in jazz for Tusques must have distinguished him a great deal from his peers; learning to play by listening intensely to the drums - an instrument that inhabits a completely different sonic world than other instruments used in jazz - most likely opened his ears up to some wildly interesting sonic possibilities and fostered an idiosyncratic brand of creativity.

In 1964, he and trumpetist/composer Bernard Vitet co-founded the first French free jazz band, recruiting the highly important and innovative Jean-Francois Jenny-Clark on bass and the great Aldo Romano on drums (who is known for working extensively with American jazz musicians such as Don Cherry, Steve Lacy and Dexter Gordon). Unfortunately, to my knowledge, no recordings exist of this group (they certainly did not officially release an album). However, the next year, Tusques and Vitet worked together again (this time hiring saxophonist and flutist Francois Jeanneau, bass clarinetist Michel Portal, percussionist Charles Saudrais and bassist Bernard Guérin - all of whom were key players on the emerging new jazz scene in Paris) to record and release Free Jazz, the first true French free jazz record (on the Moulodji label, but later reissued by In Situ). The album comprises a series of “loose springboard-pieces” written by Tusques that are fleshed out with expansive passages of free improvisation. Obviously, form-wise, this approach is nothing revolutionary. Rather, it is the highly distinctive manner in which the band improvises together that really stretches the genre into new territories. (source)

Francois Tusques - p,g,saw,maracas
Sunny Murray - d
Louis Armfield - perc
Alan Silva - cel
Beb Guerin - b
Bob Reid - b
Alan Shorter - tp
Steve Potts - as

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