Monday, September 03, 2007

francis marmande does not exist

Francis Marmande is Le Monde's (France's newspaper of record) long-time jazz and corrida critic. I haven't read any of the books he may have written, or even any classic reviews that may have cemented his stature. I just read whatever he deigns to send my RSS reader.

There are many kinds of reviewers (chroniclers, storytellers, analysers, mystics, socialites, ideologues and preachers, to name a few), all of whom have their merits. Marmande adapts the orator's sly, sexy allusiveness (is there any other kind of sexiness?). Perhaps more than any other critic I know of, Marmande is keenly aware that we are reading him reading the music. In other words, yes, we are reading about music, but the critic must make his own kind of music. See the variation of phrase lengths, the repetitions (it's almost a chorus-verse kind of structure) and the interjections in the magnificent fourth paragraph of this review of Bojan Z's Tetraband (Josh Roseman, Christophe "Disco" Minck, Seb Rocheford).

Comment se forme un Tetraband ? Par affinités, par désir de l'autre, et de ce qu'il ne peut pas donner, on verra. Le jazz n'existe pas. Les musiciens de jazz, oui. Vérifiables, tangibles, présents. Lorsque quatre corps, quatre expériences telles que celles-ci se réunissent, les choses sont simples. Ou ça tourne en rond. Chacun englué dans son ego, sa soif de démonstration. Ou ça prend. Les musiciens de jazz connaissent tous cette preuve ontologique du jazz : la première fois qu'ils se rencontrent, ils jouent. Quoi ? Rien. Ils jouent un nouveau rien ensemble. Pour voir.
So sometimes the music is lost in Marmande's ellipses, but when it has "eroticised" the air around it, he is able to pass that charge on to us. Describing the power and hazards and mechanisms of a first-time meeting, he is gentleman enough not to preempt our own pleasure in possible later performances. And unlike some writers who are excellent at maneuvering tight spaces, in a longer article like "Les aigus, c'est grave," Marmande loses none of his density.