Friday, 11 June 2010

Rimona Francis "Rimona Francis"

Rimona Francis

"Rimona Francis"
( LP MPS Records, 1978 )
Catalog # MPS 15.508

01 - Bulgarian Beans (Stu Hacohen)
02 - Colours Of Excitement (Rimona Francis)
03 - Escape (Rimona Francis)
04 - Debka Druze (trad./Stu Hacohen)
05 - Eulipia (Frank Tusa)
06 - Five And Nine (Stu Hacohen)
07 - Gingi (J. van't Hoff/Rimona Francis)

Personnel & Credits:
Rimona Francis - vocal, piano
Leszek Zadlo - soprano-, tenor-saxophone, flute
Jasper van't Hof - acoustic and electric pianos, organ, synthesizer
Barry Finnerty - guitar
Frank Tusa - bass
Buddy Williams - drums

Tune "GINGI" recorded live at the Donaueschingen Music Festival 1977 Sudwestfunk Baden-Baden
All compositions published by FUTURE PASSED (ASCAP)
All arrangements by Stu Hacohen
Recorded: October 24-27th, 1977 by Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer MPS Studio, Villingen/West-Germany
"Thank you, Stu Hacohen, for help, ideas and arrangements!"

The unique thing about Rimona Francis is her natural ability to transcend categories. Folk, jazz, rock... Debussy, Bach, Bartok... The Balkans, Israel, Arabia - it's all there and yet - no single category applies! Of course, a clever producer might try to establish Rimona as a rock star or a jazz singer or even (listen to "Escape") a classical singer. She could make it in any of these areas. But Rimona is not interested in "making" it in the usual sens of the word. She is not a jazz, or rock, or classical or even a folk singer. She is a singer... period. So, instead of trying to "establish" Rimona, this record tries to give an idea of her range (and not just the technical one of 3 1/2 octaves!).
Rimona Francis lives in New York. She was born in Tel Aviv of Bulgarian descent. She says: "My Balkan background was a natural base for my love for Bartok and for irregular rhythms. Later, my husband, the Bulgarian musician Stu Hacohen, intensified this love. We had our own jazz group in Israel. We played in Tel Aviv and in different Kibbutzim and made two records."
Internationally, Rimona got known thorugh the Enja record, "Future Passed" (1975, with vibes player David Friedman). A year later, she sang in two very different settings at the Berlin Jazz Days - in bass player Miroslav Vitous's rock group ("Majesty Music" on Arista) and with large symphonic orchestra in a piece written by German composer Wolfgang Dauner (this, too, indicates her versatility). Rimona Francis: "Since we got to to New York (1974). I have learned much about modern jazz. I listen to instrumental music, not very much to singers. I discovered that I breathe like a saxophone player. I vocalized jazz solos by Sonny Stitt, Paul Desmond, Clifford Brown, Oscar Peterson. Of course, I love singers. But nobody ever will surpass Ella Fitzgerald or the
warmth of Sarah Vaughan. I don't want to imitate the black sound. I don't want to be limited to a certain musical style."
Rimona's husband Stu Hacohen, is a fanatical practitioner of irregular rhythms. "Bulgarian Beans" is in 11/8, "Five and Nine" has a constant change of one 5/8 and two 9/8 bars all through the piece - an almost impossible challenge for the musicians. Yet, they managed to play the tune and even improvise on it with as much ease as in the common 4/4 meter. "Beans" based on Macedonian and Bulgarian rhythms, has a 12-bar blues-like structure, but not the usual blues harmonies. "Five and Nine" is in the style of a Bulgarian folk song done in a modern concept. In the beginning before the rhythm comes in, Rimona introduces the tune as a lovely ballad with great feeling and sensitivity. Rimona's composition "Escape" is more a "lied" than a song, reminiscent of late Debussy or early Schoenberg. The piece is in three parts with Rimona accompanying herself on the piano and with Jasper, between the two vocal parts, playing a marvelous piano improvisation, based on the chords of the tune.
The words, too, are by Rimona: "Hylet me go back to the womb/To my mother's womb/Where it's warm and safe and blind.../Blindness without pain/Just peace of the blank.../Just heartbeat is there...". "Colours Of Excitement", also composed by Rimona, is in a Brazillian mood - with lovely improvisations by Barry Finnerty on guitar and Leszek Zadlo on flute and with great synthesizer sounds by Jasper van't Hof. "The Debka" is a dance of the Druses, the Arabian tribe which is fighting for freedom in the mountainous border region between Iran and Turkey. It's interesting to note that the Druses are among the most courageous fighters in the Israeli army. The Debka is danced only by men. They hold each other by their belts with the first one leading the dance with a white handkerchief. Rimona's solo improvisation in Arabian style sounds like a peaceful tribute to Israel's Arabian neighbors.
Some of this record's most sensitive music is heard in the duos. Frank Tusa's "Eulipia" is dedicated to "a very musical place in California, near Santa Cruz. And "Ginghi" - meaning "red-headed" in Hebrew - is Rimona's name for piano player Jasper van't Hof; you can hear her shouting the word in the middle of the improvisation. This track was recorded at the Donaueschingen Music Festival 1977 in Germany. The Piece was not rehearsed. It's a completely spontaneous improvisation and
a great example of musical rapport and humour and wit. You should have seen their faces as they played and sang on the stage at Donaueschingen. One of them would seem to say, "You do that", whereupon the other would signal, "So I do this". I have seldom seen two musicians having so much fun while performing. We wanted to repeat this duo in the studio but the
performance on the Donaueschingen stage is so unique that we preferred to include the live recording.
Rimona's group on this record was assembled by Sudwestfunk (Southwest German Radio and Television Network) for a concert at the Music Festival in Donaueschingen, Germany. Rimona brought three musicians from New York and added two Europeans. Never before on a record session have i heard so many different languages - Hebrew, Bulgarian, Russian (Stu and Polish saxophone player Leszek Zadlo communicate in this language), Polish, Dutch, German, English... Drummer Buddy Williams has recorded with Herbie Hancock and Nat Adderley. Guitarist Barry Finnerty is on records with Michal Urbaniak, Chico Hamilton, Hubert Laws and Blood Sweat and Tears. And Frank Tusa, of course, is known through performances and records with Elvin Jones, Richard Beirach, Badal Roy and Dave Liebman. Leszek Zadlo is one of the many excellent musicians from Poland. And Dutchman Jasper van't Hof, winner of polls all over Europe, is one of the most well-known European keyboard players.
By JOACHIM-ERNST BERENDT (Author of the "Jazzbook - from Rag to Free and Rock", Hill & Co. Publishing Company, New York) (Copyright © 2010 All rights reserved)

By Celo

1 comment:

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