Napoli's Walls

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All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Louis Sclavis has for decades dazzled and provoked listeners with his literate, ambitious musical projects that examine not only the many dimensions and directions of the sonic spectrum, but also his Renaissance-like embrace of literature, foreign cultures, and now, visual art. With a new quartet collaborating with him -- only cellist Vincent Courtois is retained from his previous outing, L'Affrontement des Prétendants -- Sclavis turns his eyes, ears, and spirit toward an investigation of the paintings of the French artist Ernest Pignon-Ernest on Napoli's Walls. Pignon-Ernest, born in 1942, is a curious and wonderfully captivating artist, since he works not on canvas but on ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Louis Sclavis has for decades dazzled and provoked listeners with his literate, ambitious musical projects that examine not only the many dimensions and directions of the sonic spectrum, but also his Renaissance-like embrace of literature, foreign cultures, and now, visual art. With a new quartet collaborating with him -- only cellist Vincent Courtois is retained from his previous outing, L'Affrontement des Prétendants -- Sclavis turns his eyes, ears, and spirit toward an investigation of the paintings of the French artist Ernest Pignon-Ernest on Napoli's Walls. Pignon-Ernest, born in 1942, is a curious and wonderfully captivating artist, since he works not on canvas but on public surfaces. From 1987-1995 he worked in Naples, digging through a knotty, tragic history that involved both Oriental and Occidental cultures and the aftermath of volcanoes, disease, defeat at the hands of many armies, and the poetry of its people through it all. Sclavis playing both clarinets and saxophones, Courtois on cello, Médéric Collignon on pocket trumpet, electronics, voices, and horn, and Danish guitarist Hasse Poulsen engage Pignon-Ernest head-on. They explore the various musical traditions of Naples, but also of the entire region through the language of the postmodern, as improvisation, formal composition, ethnomusicology, and an aesthetic that attempts to illustrate the visual aurally. This is accomplished by stitching together the region's popular and antiquated song forms from folk to opera to madrigals, jazz through a Mingus-like engagement with history and the dissemination of cultural mores, sophisticated and striated harmonic sensibilities, and a nuanced aesthetic of dissonance. There are ten selections on Napoli's Walls, all but one of them dedicated to a person or place and all of them warm and utterly engaged in time and place, whether the piece has humor in its articulation, such as on the title track or "Kennedy in Napoli," with its wondrous counterpoint, or is more elegiac as in "Divinaziona Moderna, Pt. 1" and "Guetteur d'Inaperçu." The classical thematics and structure of "Les Apparences," with its lilting cello line that counters the pocket trumpet in creating a theme to which Sclavis adds his trademark rounded tone on clarinet, is among the most striking moments on the set, especially as Poulsen's guitar breaks the dynamic and then shifts it into a meditative improvisation. Simply put, Napoli's Walls is an album that moves jazz from its rarefied 21st century ghetto and engages it in a different dimension, as it offers the visual as another song form and place of investigation for sonic inquiry as well as dissemination for antiquated and popular culture. And far from being merely academic, this record is full of sensual pleasure and an utterly accessible, often deeply moving articulation of a new musical language.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/11/2004
  • Label: Ecm Import
  • UPC: 044003850422
  • Catalog Number: 038504

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Louis Sclavis Primary Artist, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone
Vincent Courtois Cello, electronics
Hasse Emil Poulsen Guitar
Médéric Collignon Percussion, Trumpet, Horn, Pocket Trumpet, Vocals, Voices, electronics
Technical Credits
Louis Sclavis Composer, Producer, Liner Notes, Audio Production
Vincent Courtois Composer
Manfred Eicher Executive Producer
Christian Rentsch Liner Notes
Gérard De Haro Engineer
Gilles Olivesi Engineer
Martine Passelaigue translation
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