Everybody’s Here Ensemble [TB#2.9] | January & February 2023

What’s left of this deliciously human desire to explore the unknown, when the era of great discoveries, explorations and terra incognita has come to an end? When every detail of our environment is constantly mapped by satellites and vehicle cameras? When everyday life and interpersonal interactions are modeled and predicted by algorithms?

“I imagine stubborn music, I imagine digging into something. That’s generally what I like to share – an obstinacy. Don’t stop digging until you’ve found it, but of course never really find it” (Julien Pontvianne).

These five improvisers, fomenting their plans together, know full well that there’s still so much to discover, on the other side of the mirror. That beyond the simple process of exploration, discovery can still be made through the creation of new worlds, by bringing together singular individualities made up of multiple worlds.

“Often I know roughly which direction I’m digging, which horizon I’m scanning, but the landscape is unknown and will remain so until the first note. It’s like being taken up a mountain blindfolded into a faraway land. The blindfold will be removed on the first note of the first concert. Or maybe I’ll keep the blindfold on” (Pontvianne).

They have chosen to form a mirrored group with two “doubles”: percussion/saxophone, and in the center, a voice, the vocals. Here, the foundations have disappeared, the ground to be explored is bottomless, endless. We’ll have to play with absence, with stripping things down, and make the void a space to observe, to scrutinize, to listen to. Make asceticism a prodigious driving force.

“What’s left once we’ve freed ourselves from our supposed fundamentals? Where do we go once the foundations have been deconstructed? What can we rely on, what paths can we follow when the guides we’ve created have disappeared?” (Julien Chamla)

These five creators have another thing in common: they’re all experienced in exploring collective work. In France, Sakina Abdou, Julien Chamla and Julien Pontvianne are respectively members of the Muzzix, Coax and Onze Heures Onze collectives. On the Chicago side, Coco Elysses is now president of the legendary, half-century-old AACM, while Ugochi Nwaogwugwu lends his voice and poems to the South Side’s efforts to rehabilitate through art. Collectively, these five have never ceased to deal with multiple identities and influences, from folk to noise to minimalism.

“The oldest instruments in the world remain: voices and percussion. What remains is the possibility of a message to be heard, raw, carried by our own echoes, pulsations, mirrors and doubles. There remains a space to invest, opened up by absence; there remains the void to embrace, to build exchanges of a new kind.” (Chamla)

What has become of this deliciously human desire, this impulse towards the unknown? A plethora. World creators have now taken over from world explorers, taking the plunge into inner worlds to map otherness. The new terra incognita are the product of individual and collective imaginations, and are called Alamut, Uluru or Xanadu.

L’expédition du Bridge 2.9, l’une des premières fois où elle a été vue, avant de prendre la mer. From left to right: Coco Elysses (didley-bow, congas), Julien Chamla (drums), Sakina Abdou (tenor & alto saxophones, recorder), Julien Pontvianne (tenor saxophone) and Ugochi Nwaogwugwu (vocals), in search of the golden fleece.

January 18 to 20, in residence in Grenoble. On the pier of the Centre International des Musiques Nomades, The Bridge 2.9 gathers, hour after hour, day after day, to the rhythm of the strikes that must be carried out. 20 million years ago, as a result of the collision between Africa and Europe, the earth’s crust was deformed in the region. Folded and broken geological layers, eruptions or irruptions, erosions: these are collective movements like any other, like strikes, like improvised group music. Especially this one and its spells.

January 21, Vitrolles. Au Moulin à Jazz, le quintette joue surtout dans le cratère d’un volcan. And there are meteor showers too. Et Bastien Boni est venu les rejoindre, au second set, avec sa contrebasse filante, fileuse. De vaporeuse, their music becomes sometimes voluptueuse: elle fait entêtante.

January 22, Avignon. At AJMI, kings and queens and beggars are drawn. In each of their instruments and in each of their voices, there are magi and muses and wiles, and there are beans of silence. The music unfolds in time and winds through space.

January 24, Lyon. Without Sakina Abdou for the concert at Le Périscope, the other four studied the activity of submarine volcanoes: the regularity or irregularity of eruptive structures, long hydrothermal vents, the transformation of magma into glass… Here they are seen leaving the watch pit.

January 25, Nantes. At the Pannonica, other adventures await the quintet. How to further unwind what is already so naturally coiled? How to make something else of the waves, the tides, the ebb and flow? Which way to go?

January 26, Brest. In the university’s Salle du Clous, and as part of the Décadanse festival, Plages Magnétiques teamed up with The Bridge, dancers Jennifer Dubreuil Houthemann and Guiomar Campos, from Compagnie CAD Plateforme, to “break the accelerated mode”. A slow journey, with images from the archives of the Cinémathèque de Bretagne, edited by Claire André. A voyage of slowness, where balloons gracefully contort their way into the sky, where memory melts like candy in the mouth.

January 27, Tours. At Le Petit faucheux, in the footsteps of the invisible Ymir, giant of the Edda, 2.9 splits and splits apart: which way to go then? To the voice and its wisdom, to the path and its largesse? Into the void, never far away? By repeating ourselves?

January 28, Dijon. [Chicago District], at the Opéra de Dijon, aims to turn the venue into an annex of the “windy city”, for an entire weekend of events. But before the delicious nocturnal uproar of Damon Locks and the Black Monument Ensemble, there are the volatilizations of Ugochi Nwaogwugwu, Sakina Abdou, Julien Pontvianne, Julien Chamla and Coco Elysses. From the invisible songs to the songs of the unsung. It was written in the Zutique album.

January 31, Toulouse. There’s a bang without Julien Chamla, but with Mathieu Sourisseau, for the concert at Le Taquin, after Maria Helena Vieira Da Silva’s squares the day before and Marie Olaya’s stratosphere as opening act. We’ve thrown paving stones into jazz, a little out of order.

February 1, Poitiers. Still without Julien Chamla for the concert at Confort Moderne, the four others instead studied the combination of gravitational forces due to the Moon and Sun, and inertial forces due to the Earth’s revolution around the centers of mass of the Earth-Moon pair and the Earth-Sun pair, all combined with the Earth’s rotation on its axis. Here we see the Earth-Moon pair and the Earth-Sun pair, two by two, at the origin of the tides.

February 3, Albi. At Frigo, we’re not done with the gravitational constant. The drummer is back in the simplest element of his drum kit, the saxophonists in the simplest element of their saxophones (a single tiger appears, just once), the didley-bow in the simplest element of its single string. The vocals, meanwhile, are a reel. Together, they traverse banks of mist, screens of smoke. Where once there was one voice, now there are two.

February 4, Carcassonne. After a visit to the Maison des Mémoires – Maison Joë Bouquet, and well before a night tour of the medieval city (52 tours), The Bridge 2.9 plays music that, of course, interprets the poet’s thought or vision very exactly: “Far away, the wind walks beside the paths, and sometimes it hurries like a man following horses”. In this unfolding geography, Carcassonne is just behind Ilé-Ifẹ̀, and the concert can’t help but be a ceremony.

February 5, Chenonceaux. Let’s talk about the “chemin de traverse”, by stealth? In the end, a tour is just that. It turns, it goes everywhere, backs turned, it turns. And we’re going to see châteaux, for example, with Maître Cappozzo, to see how we can reappropriate all this when the time comes. It will come. It’s a question of time, of improvisation. To our great delight.

February 6, Lille. Pirate dens are everywhere. There’s one in Lille called La Malterie. It distills contraband musical improvisation. There are even birthday parties to keep the world going, with choreography and happiness to spare. It’s a whirlwind of fun for young and old, and for the little ones in all of us. With Ivann Cruz, Maryline Pruvost and Jérémie Ternoy.

February 7, Strasbourg. At the Fossé-des-Treize, thanks to Jazz d’or, there’s nothing left to do but take up space. Space, distance, dilation, dilution perhaps, and perhaps also a return to the origin, which is never, ever the origin. But something that happens when the time comes. But then, where does the moment come from?

February 9, Pantin. Accompanied by Nicole Mitchell on flute and signals, everything emerges, everything clashes, what has developed over three weeks redevelops again or not, learns to recognize itself, asks for grace and gets it.

Forming circles, with human and musical links. In Lyon, meetings with musicians from Cefedem and Ateliers d’Improvisation Libre. In Toulouse, meetings with students from École maternelle publique Claude Nougaro and École élémentaire publique Peire Godolin. In Poitiers, meetings with CFMI students and improvisers from the PIL (PoCo Improvisation Laboratory). In Paris, meetings with two classes from the Conservatoire à rayonnement régional… In Grenoble, a meeting with a single child. And, at the Université Paris 8 | Vincennes – Saint Denis and at the University of Chicago’s Paris Center, participation with Nicole M. Mitchell in the International Colloquium: Afrofuturism: Centering the Imagination of Diasporic Africa.