The liner notes to this album highlight a quote from the early 20 thcentury Spanish writer Federico Garcia Lorca. The “duende,” he
says, blows “insistently over the heads of the dead, in search of new
landscapes and unknown accents: a wind with the odour of a child’s saliva,
crushed grass, and medusa’s veil, announcing the endless baptism of freshly
created things.” This image of death and youth, of familiarity and
discovery, of “the endless baptism of freshly created things” stuck with me
as I listened to this album. And, I think it is key to understanding not
just the recording’s conceptual foundation, but its meandering coherence
and expressionistic beauty.
To the first point: this album seems a self-consciously Dionysian creation.
Duende can mean a musical inebriation, something particularly fitting given
the pianist and leader’s, Cécile Cappozzo, training as a flamenco dancer as
well as a musician. Without projecting too much of a life-cycle onto this
album, the music does reflect the spirit of playful creation, of
construction and destruction, and of birth, death, and rebirth that one
might expect from an album as mysterious – as the title implies – and
exploratory as this.
To the second point: the first four tracks of Sub Rosaare
fragments of a greater piece titled “Chaos.” In the context of duende, this
seems more a reference to Greek cosmology than the colloquial meaning of
chaos as absolute disorder. This album is cacophonous, but out of this
discord arises (and then subsides) harmonic order. That is, just as the
chaos of the ancient Greeks was a necessary precondition to order, if not
also its parent.
Fittingly, this album creates order out of sheer intensity and rhythms
out of disparate noise. The musicians, Cappozzo (piano), Patrice Grente
(bass), and Etienne Ziemniak (drums) fill the air with sound first, then
pull those sounds together into recognizable, abstract melodies, then
entropically diverge. The fifth track, “Sub Rosa,” is similar, though
Cappozzo’s father, the accomplished Jean-Luc Cappozzo, lends his trumpet to
amplify the piece and maybe even provide the wind that blows the duende
even further forward. Minus the specifics of the duende, song titles, and
personnel, this description could apply to many releases reviewed on FJB.
However, it applies particularly well to this one. Grente, Ziemniak, and
Cappozzo the senior doubtlessly contribute their unique rhythmic
sensibilities and improvisational structures to this album. Nevertheless,
it is Cécile Cappozzo who provides the uniquely ludic and energetic piano
that drives this album through 45 minutes of non-stop (that means
absolutely no silence and maybe no chaotic void after all) creation and
re-creation. She plays with a playfulness and spiritedness that evokes the
build-up and release, the movement, and the emotionality of flamenco, the
vessel of the duende. (That is, without sounding stylistically flamenco.)
Though solidly rooted in free jazz above anything else, the music simply
dances in a way that similar releases do not.