Don’t Tell [TB#2.2, return journey] | October 2022, France

The Bridge, squared. This project is the second group to emerge from The Bridge’s second generation of Franco-American collaborative ensembles. Following an intuition initially proposed by guitarist Raymond Boni, Mai Sugimoto, Anton Hatwich and Paul Rogers took the time in November 2019 in Chicago to explore the possibilities of a vessel with a majority of string instruments and no keyboards, no percussion, piloted simultaneously by four individuals with radically different artistic personalities. The idea was to create music that would grapple with the ideas of unfolding and entanglement, of sound as a set of lines and twists. Distant points in space and time can always be connected, even when you don’t expect it, especially when you don’t expect it: “Improvisation being a fundamental link for the coexistence of beings, what interests me most in this Franco-American encounter is the singular journey of each, and the unprecedented quality of this event.” Says Boni. Mission accomplished, to be repeated in France in October 2022.

They’re off to tell no tales, or to tell tales, it depends, it’s been a long time, since November 2019 anyway. Don’t Tell (The Bridge #2.2) is sometimes Mai Sugimoto & Her Gang, the alto saxophonist and flutist amid the strings of Raymond Boni on guitar, Anton Hatwich and Paul Rogers on double basses. The legend of their music in a lakeside village, for example, that would be the first story.

October 2, Dijon. At Le Maquis, in the maison éclusière where the Tribu Festival ends, as in a lakeside village, between lightning and floods, between runners and cyclists, it’s the crossroads between heaven and earth, between four musicians with four directions.

October 5, Lyon. At Le Périscope, Don’t Tell rises to the surface, out of the shadows, into the light. The music is between them like a blade and like energy.

October 7, Grenoble. At the Théâtre Sainte-Marie-d’en-Bas, Boni, Hatwich, Rogers and Sugimoto add their own music to all those collected by the Centre International des Musiques Nomades. Four of them, 2×2 of them, four of them, they support each other like the four pillars of wisdom and madness.

October 9, Nantes. From imaginary lakeside village to ancient lakeside town, it’s only a short step or vision. Don’t Tell welcomes cellist Soizic Lebrat, and there will be as many stringed instruments, fishing nets and miraculous catches. At the Pannonica, Olympe talks it over with Moncho, in front of a beautiful mahogany cameo, someone says.

October 2 to 5, Lyon. In residence at Le Périscope, Don’t Tell told stories everywhere, Chez Daddy (intergenerational café), for the students of CEFEDEM (interdependent institution), with ARFI (intersubjective collective) members Olivier Bost on trombone, Clément Gibert on bass clarinet and Christian Rollet on drums. Ça tourne.

October 12, Poitiers. Mai Sugimoto, Raymond Boni, Anton Hatwich and Paul Rogers are focused on casualness, they flip-flop and so does she, it doesn’t seem, at Confort Moderne, between the magic squares of Jazz à Poitiers, four queens and four bishops taking turns on the chessboard.

October 13, Albi. At the Frigo, a concert of diagonals then, and in twos and threes, they don’t walk at a leisurely pace as they do in their magic square. They go off on a tangent. And Don’t Tell even welcomes a great storyteller of coherence and incoherence, Roland Ossart and his mélisson.

October 14, Marseille. Don’t Tell receives. At Espace Montévidéo, as part of the fourth edition of the Just Listen! festival, organized and improvised by the Be Free association, the number of double bassists is steadily increasing. Three now, with Bernard Santacruz joining Hatwich and Rogers. And two saxophonists, François Wong on baritone having joined Sugimoto. Recollections, various densities. Of course, Boni projects a powder of free electrons that magnetize the whole band. And gives his final solo on a 12-year-old harmonica.

October 15, Sainte-Anastasie. And now four double bassists, with the addition of Scott Walton to La Bergerie (oasis, atoll, nemeton). A hydra with more than sixteen heads or strings in the hinterland with Santacruz, Hatwich and Rogers. Tangles and tangles guaranteed, plus a few strokes of genius, strokes of fire. Boni waits in his corner in his red shirt to emerge like a handsome devil and shear incessantly.

October 16, Nîmes. At the Petit Théâtre de la Placette, it’s almost the other half of the band, Mai Sugimoto and Anton Hatwich, who receive a visit from Robin Fincker on tenor saxophone and clarinet, and Samuel Silvant on drums and bodhran. In three beats, three movements, three naturally structured collective improvisations, all currents flow.

In the Cappozzone in Luzillé, on October 11, with Jean-Luc Cappozzo on trumpet and flugelhorn, Paquito Perez on trumpet, Géraldine Keller on vocals – and before that on the same day in the house of Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning in Huismes. And after that in Poitiers, on October 12, with a second-year class from the Sciences et Techniques du Théâtre, de la Musique et de la Danse program. Or on October 17, with Samuel Silvant in the Gorges du Gardon. Everything is possible, everything can be transmitted.

October 18, Tours. At Le Petit faucheux, Raymond Boni, Mai Sugimoto, Paul Rogers and Anton Hatwich meet again, four of them, after days and nights of encounters, and plunge into a stupor and the Milky Way. The form is now clear: a quartet, a duo, another duo, another quartet. Contradictory impulses and an obscure, opaque understanding. The audience is invited to follow the metamorphoses.

October 19, Brest. At the Vauban, stronghold of an Other World, and as part of the Atlantique Jazz Festival, a musical moment of extraordinary common good (where the ghosts of Sidney Bechet and Léo Ferré play water games in the kitchen, where the amps disappear at the last musical moment…), Don’t Tell is at it again: a quartet, a duo, another duo, another quartet. A less secret but still surprising passage, with your eyes closed.

October 20, Pantin, at La Dynamo de Banlieues Bleues. It’s the moment of departure or arrival or return: as in collective improvisation, we don’t know too well, we don’t know so well, what’s up, what’s down, what’s in front, what’s behind. It’s in this moment of uncertainty that all the directions are taken as decisions, and all the stories are told at all the speeds distributed between Boni and Rogers, between Sugimoto and Hatwich.

With students from the IUT in Tours, training to become socio-cultural animators, or with students from Paris 8 – Saint-Denis in Pantin, apprentice sorcerers and musicians, the circles are always forming and expanding.

In October 2022, Don’t Tell told no stories in a crêperie in Brittany, on a tennis court in the Gard, in a gypsy caravan in Dijon, all over France.