On Jacques Thollot

Jacques Thollot
Quand Le Son Devient Aigu, Jeter La Girafe À La Mer
Futura : 1971

JT, drums, percussion, piano, organ

You may recall Brian Roessler‘s name from the marvelous series of three posts he did for D:O on French bassist François Rabbath, back in ’09. We are now happy to present a guest post from Roessler’s compatriot in music, Nathan Hanson. Not sure what it is about these guys and the French, but we’re pleased to have Hanson tell us about Jacques Thollot. Previously unknown to us, Thollot was something of a drum prodigy, and apprenticed with Kenny Clarke in the late 1950s; he later set out in more progressive directions. Hardcore crate diggers/OCD types might recognize Thollot’s name from the Nurse with Wound list. In any event, we are delighted to share Hanson’s post with you. (Please be sure and check the Kickstarter link below for more on Brian and Nathan’s current project.)

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I’m honored and pleased to be invited to write this guest post for Destination: Out. I’ve always relished the opportunity to discover new stuff from familiar and unfamiliar sources. And so it is that I’d like to share some information that is new to me  (that somehow I got from a source other than D:O).

Jacques Thollot is a French drummer and composer. At the age of 11 he began drum studies with Kenny Clarke. By the time he was 13 he was Kenny Clarke’s “appointed replacement” at Paris’ Blue Note (and later La Chat qui Peche), playing with such giants as Bud Powell, Chet Baker, and Eric Dolphy. After a long association with Barney Wilen, and later with Don Cherry as part of the “New York Total Music Company,” he could be found playing with Michel Portal, Steve Lacy, Gato Barbieri, Pharoah Sanders, Joachim Kuhn, Sonny Sharrock, Jean-Luc Ponty, Charlie Haden, and others. His reputation was as an exciting drummer with solid jazz bona fides.

So in 1971, when he recorded Quand Le Son Devient Aigu, Jeter La Girafe à La Mer (trans.: when the sound becomes acute, throw the giraffe in the sea) it was, perhaps, surprising to hear a record made primarily by overdubbing and including such relatively new studio techniques as flanging and phasing, and a healthy dose of musique concrete. With the exception of the cello on “Quiet Days in Prison,” all the parts are played by Thollot. Most of the tracks feature his intricate, almost baroque piano playing.

Subsequent records include Watch Devil Go (1975), Resurgence (1977), Cinq Hops (1978), A Winter’s Tale (1993), Tenga Nina (1996)–each record different in approach and instrumentation. Following that, a sort of hiatus ensued, with less and less frequent appearances. But in June 2011, Jacques was playing to an enthusiastic audience at the Sunside in Paris with his new quartet (including Tony Hymas on piano, Claude Tchamitchian on bass, and yours truly on saxophones). A new record is the offing. Although there is no firm date for the release (or the recording for that matter), Jacques has been busy assembling material. I’m quite interested to discover the mixture of intricacy and looseness that characterizes his work.

JT with Kenny Clarke Art Blakey

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You can find more about Nathan Hanson here. He works often with bassist Brian Roessler, for example in the outfit Fantastic Merlins. See also their collaborative project/label Community Pool. And speaking of community, Roessler & Hanson have a Kickstarter campaign in place for their latest outing, Selenographia. It’s in its last days, so check it out if you’d like to be a part of it.

Category guest posts, Jacques Thollot