It is said that Jass goes back far into the distant past. It is a rustic, perennial plant that roots deeply in soils, ranging from the most fertile to the chalkiest. It has even been seen to sprout between the paving stones of the “Lonyay Utca”, Budapest’s high street, built on the silt bed of the Danube. Even the noise and bustle of the city, with its unpredictable rhythms and the clattering of vigorous strings, does not stop its leaves from reaching up to embrace the sun’s rays as it prepares to burst into bloom. When its rhizomes are planted close to the river that irrigates the whole of Central Europe, Jass takes on a variegated hue. With warmer fragrances it is spicier… and spikier too. It can be influenced by transatlantic gulf streams, from Nantes to New York, and even climatic differences between East and West Coast, pollinating the fields of Jass with other perennials likes seeds blown from a dandelion clock.
This is where the nurseries and gardeners come in. To select seeds that will enable multiple blooming at different seasons; shy buds peeping through the frost of “Ansia da Separazione” or discrete tutti from the reeds releasing woody notes. Further into spring, the opiate and complex fragrances of “Forced Empathy”, blending into a powerful, heady sensation, on the edges of ecstasy. Jass offers capricious but undeniably sophisticated aromas. The last harvest, under the alchemical influence of bass and drums, bore the imprint of many different essences. Regular cutting and grafting has endowed the plant with the capacity to grow ex nihilo, even in the seediest gardens. The flower is at home everywhere: in the heat wave of “Wagonnet Songs” where Sebastien Boisseau’s upright bass is made white hot by the irradiating drums of John Hollenbeck, and under the intermittently thunderous skies of Samuel Blaser’s trombone. The fine, peaceful drizzle of “Missing Marc Suetterlyn” makes the heavy soil through which Alban Darche’s tenor ploughs deep swathes. Perfect seasons alternate sun and cloud. A balance nourished by beat and, more importantly, counterbeat. This is what our agricultural engineers recommend. Like the patience and attention to detail that are the prime qualities of the successful gardener.
Nurtured with passion in a favourable biotope, the plant will flourish in its fullest pomp. Of course, everything here is organic, with neither pesticides nor aggressive fertilisers. The leaves are alive with tiny detail and solid veins yielding a sweet, nutritive sap, often completely improvised. With this quartet, a lover of big landscapes and strong winds, nature reclaims its rights and its cycles. As the popular saying, quoted in many a gardener’s almanac, goes: “If at the Saint Bernard, the lake is frozen hard, by Saint Valentine the Jass will be doing just fine.”
Recorded by Andreas Stoffels at Studio in der Remise, Berlin, in June 2015. www.studioremise.com
Mixed and mastered by Dave Darlington at Bass Hit Recording, NYC. www.davedarlington.com
With special thanks to Olivier Ménard at CornerBox studio and Alain Herard at kontrabassberlin.de
LinerNotes written by Franpi Barriaux in May 2016. www.franpisunship.com, translated by Alan Fell.
John Hollenbeck plays Zildjian cymbals and crotales.
Alban Darche plays D'Addario Woodwinds reeds and Selmer saxophones.
Samuel Blaser plays and endorses Yamaha.
Sébastien Boisseau plays D'Addario strings.
“mix of sun and clouds” has been made possible through the French-American Jazz Exchange, a joint program of FACE (French American Cultural Exchange) and Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, with generous funding from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Florence Gould Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Editeurs de Musique (“SACEM”), Institut Français and the Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication.