Thursday, July 21, 2016

François Tusques - Free Jazz

Born in 1938 in Paris, Tusques migrated with his family to rural Brittany shortly thereafter, though as his father was a crucial figure in the French Resistance, François and his family moved around quite a bit during and after the War, eventually spending two years in Afghanistan and another two in Dakar before returning to France. As the potential for danger at being ‘outed’ as a member the Resistance was so high, Tusques did not attend any French schools at the time, for fear that he would accidentally divulge his father’s secret to his peers. This secretiveness, on top of the fact that his family was so mobile, contributed to a difficult childhood, and despite the fact that his mother was an opera singer, poverty and circumstance kept Tusques from beginning musical training until he was eighteen, when he began to study the piano. “I had only one week of lessons; after that, I was on my own — you could say an ‘autodidact.’ I learned to play mostly by ear, especially from the drummers.” Tusques quickly took to jazz — his worldliness certainly offering exposure to sounds that he would not have heard otherwise during the War — and counts among his early favorites Bud Powell and Rene Urtreger, not to mention subsequent affinities for Cecil Taylor (“but I am not a technical pianist…” says Tusques), Mal Waldron, Monk and Jaki Byard. At the start of the 60s, there was a significant scene of American expatriate improvisers in Paris — Bud, Dexter Gordon, Kenny Clarke, and traditionalists like Bechet — and a handful of young French players ready and willing to sit in, like saxophonist Barney Wilen and bassist Pierre Michelot. Certainly, as in England and elsewhere in Europe, French jazz of this nascent period was almost entirely beholden to the American post-bop model, and quite a few players who could stand alongside their American peers and run the changes. Nevertheless, there was also a coterie of French improvisers for whom American-derived bebop was not the end, if even the means. Composer, arranger and sometime pianist Jef Gilson (who eventually began the famed Palm Records) was one of the ringleaders of the Parisian new jazz scene, mentoring young players like trumpeter Bernard Vitet, tenorman Jean-Louis Chautemps, drummer Charles Saudrais, bassist Beb Guerin and other soon-to-be leading lights. Tusques, though, was the only pianist at the time in Paris willing to extend those steps into the demanding compositional sound-world of ‘free jazz,’ and those who saw a continuous upward- and outward-mobility with this music looked to Tusques as a fulcrum. By 1965, Vitet, Chautemps, Saudrais, and Portal (then primarily a classical clarinetist) had asked Tusques to compose a number of loose springboard-pieces to work on as a group, which led to the recording of Free Jazz for poet Marcel Moloudji’s tiny Moloudji label. In company with German vibraphonist-reedman Gunter Hampel’s Heartplants (Saba, 1965) and trumpeter Manfred Schoof’s Voices (CBS, 1966), Free Jazz is among the very earliest documents of a wholly European improvised music, one which springs more greatly from regional influences than those from across the Atlantic
Clifford Allen

Source :

François Tusques
Free Jazz


1 Description automatique d’un paysage désolé 1  5:11
2 La Tour Saint-Jacques  12:30
3 Description automatique d’un paysage désolé 2  12:49
4 Souvenir de l’oiseau  5:39
5 Souvenir de l’oiseau 2*  2:38
6 Souvenir de l’oiseau 3*  2:42

* additional tracks not
on original LP release


François Jeanneau - s & fl
Michel Portal - b. cl
Bernard Vitet - tp

François Tusques - p
Bernard Guérin - b

Charles Saudrais - perc

Recorded at the Comédie des Champs Elysées, Paris ; October 26, 1965


agmosk said...

This looks really interesting. Thank you!

neil said...

Damn! agmosk beat me to it; many thanks, mel, for this fascinating-looking post...

pedro gamundi said...


Alan Burns said...

Thanks for posting this one - not familiar with Tusques at all, but this record's sounding right up my street!

fcapeau said...

Yessss ! It was the "Fine Fleur" of the French Jazz at that time and the record is only the shadow of what it was on stage ..... Many Thanks, Mel, to remind us this session.

Greeny said...

Hi, Mel,
superb post; I own some of his lps,- actually, this is new to me.
Alas, - while downloading the album I have encountered a strange problem,- obviously a typical german one. Since I am a German all the font settings of my Apple computer are Latin. The letter ç (as in François) isn't on my keyboard which results in an automatic renaming of your original file substituting the letter ç with the letter ä (a special letter of the German alphabet)! And so it is that 7z does not recognize the file.
Could you please rename the file and substitute the accursed letter with a harmless one?

Thanks in advance,- and...: Always these Germans!


AmyBRAINS said...

Yes, it's really a very interesting session.
Thanks a lot, Melanchthon.

kristophermc28 said...

Thanks Mel. Completely new to me, but after reading that write-up I couldn't pass on this. Looks mighty interesting.

gretels said...

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

Melanchthon said...

Fred Archtop said...

Thanks a lot Mel.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Mel!
Por favor, puedes reponer el link?