Jean-François Jenny-Clark: Solo (RJA 397002)


Jean-François Jenny-Clark

Jean-François Jenny-Clark double bass
Recorded live on August 9, 1994 at Theâtre des Halles, Avignon (Festival Bass 94)
Sound recording: Gérard de Haro
Mastering: Gilles Olivesi at Studios La Buissonne
Coordination: Manuela Vincendeau
Produced by Gérard de Haro and RJA for La Buissonne
Release date: August 9, 1994

Solo documents a live performance from 1994 by Jean-François Jenny-Clark (1944-1998), one of the most talented bassists of his generation, who eagle-eyed ECM listeners will recognize from Paul Motian’s Le Voyage and Kenny Wheeler’s around 6, among others. Consisting only of two tracks, this archival treasure closes the irises of our ears around an intimate exposition of his artistry. Well-versed across idioms, Jenny-Clark was just as comfortable playing the music of Pierre Boulez as he was backing Don Cherry or Keith Jarrett, and his eclectic influences seep from every pore.

The lion’s share of the album is taken up by the pragmatically titled “Concert.” Throughout its 38 minutes of unwavering invention, Jenny-Clark crochets a chain of interconnected scenes at the soul level. His approach to the double bass is always from the inside out, as if diving into its waters to places where light normally doesn’t reach and emerging with unknown creatures of the deep. And while his willingness to surrender to whatever impulse taps his shoulder was always apparent, on this recording it is particularly foregrounded. He is cohesive at his most abstract, unchained at his grooviest, pliant and sincere against the unaccompanied backdrop that gives him contrast. Breathing in an elliptical atmosphere of regard, his body seems to fold into itself with every change of direction. Traction is never far away: there is always a sense of purpose and of having traveled somewhere. Even when digging into more percussive textures, we know that melodic denouements are close ahead, and that we are privileged to stand in one place as he unrolls a spontaneous scroll for our regard. Following this is a 5-minute epilogue called “Rappel” (Reminder). A chain of association in its own right, it is a quiet cultivation of whispering tides, each the supply to its own heart, beating onto shore.

A masterful swan song from one of Europe’s late greats that oozes with personality and muscular lyricism. We are there.

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