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La Sprezzatura Ensemble

Esti Kenan Ofri voice, Jean Claude Jones guitar,
Oren Friedbass percussion

KCR 50, 2018




And here again is JC Jones, the very image of resilience, stubbornly riveted to this window to the world that music represents for him and persisting in ordering real or virtual sessions in the company of real-life artists or instrumentalists working in France and communicating through digital files. The two albums he has just produced for his own label echo these two complementary methods of work, each of which is of particular interest. Indeed, just as he was able to find some advantages in repudiating his double bass, which was too demanding in terms of verticality, to reconnect with his old mistress, a Spanish guitar lying flat on his lap, it was not only out of spite that JC opts for these seemingly disembodied exchanges, but which can also enrich the improvisation of the time of reflection, orienting it by itself towards a form of collective composition, although slightly shifted.

The five songs of Abstract Formative Discourse engraved in Jerusalem between 2017 and 2018 by La Sprezzatura Ensemble fit well, as for them, in the reality of physical encounters since recorded in a single space and a unique moment by the guitarist, the singer Esti Kenan Ofri and the percussionist Oren Fried.

Whatever the training in which he presents himself and the instrument he uses, the music of JC was never an immediate first and this new opus comes at the right time to prove to us, if need be, that his aesthetic has lost nothing of its roughness. The strings and the skins, in the proximity of their sonorities, suggest first a welcoming environment which, very quickly, transforms itself into a rugged landscape so that this woman voice, serious in its murmur, seems to vibrate in the rubble of a destroyed city. Therefore, we do not know if we are in Beirut, Aleppo, Sarajevo, or if we go through a dystopian decor brushed by a hyperrealist painter and we naturally come to remember these Deep Tones for Peace together a few years ago, by the contrabassist. Nylon slams on the wood, the drought of toms leaves no room for flexibility or organic heat released by the guitar. The clatter of the metal joins the disorganized chaos on the key where friction, scratching, muffled cries of strings immediately reduced to silence, acoustic explosions of materials brimees, contained, asphyxiated, which suddenly are released for a short moment of intoxication before falling back under the yoke of their torturer, all this prison vocabulary, comes to define the playing of the guitarist, as it appears at least in this session, and the atmosphere of a resonant album of this violence that the man is able to inflict on the man.
In this desolation sustained by the apparent disorder of arrhythmic percussions, the voice of Esti Kenan Ofri naturally takes on the tragic veil of the mourners, evokes the pain of these black silhouettes bent over the motionless bodies of Beirut, Aleppo or Sarajevo. The harshness of his timbre, in which Middle Eastern influences are sometimes perceived, unless they come from a Sephardic heritage, still inscribes his song in this warlike aesthetic where the complaint is broken, the voice that modulates a theme. ancestral and the obstinacy with which it resists the repeated attacks of its partners is tinged, in its most dramatic moments, of Iberian accents where deaf the duende of the siguiriya, this song of despair which tears the night of the gypsy evenings. But make no mistake: in most cases, Est Kenan Ofri escapes the formalism of cultural representation to espouse the pure abstraction of a personal language with its multiple roots to better free itself from it and define the less figurative frame of an evolving word, swollen with future forms which it itself ignores - and we do not know - what they may not look like. It is around this voice and in the wake of the ropes mistreated by the initiator of the trio that Orren Fried organizes the systematic chaos of his strikes on the skin of classical or traditional drums, its significant chains suddenly striking the integrity of the wood or metal, its bells or tambourines whose specific use punctuates the floating of a libertarian flight or is rooted on the ground in the haunting repetition of a tempo marked with great reinforcement of karkabous and other millenary scrap. In the constant upheaval of an instrumentarium forged with memory and modernity, the percussionist handles the stakes of a trio conscious of what it owes to its culture and the wounds of history, but deliberately oriented towards a future emancipated from any aesthetic, formal or ideological link, consequently inscribed in the abstraction of a discourse free from all concepts and all doctrines.

Joel Pagier