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Tracklist: 1. Desert of Gobi Sands 3:21 2. Majestic Building 14:25 3. Mancika 1:57 4. Witch & Gnome 2:40 5. In Jordan's Garden 9:04 6. My French Roots 3:04 7. I Remember Miskolc 2:38 8. Franco-Hungarian Dance 1:39 9. Sod 8:38 10. OB 9:02 11. Changes 5:51 All compositions by F. Cahen & Y. Seffer, except 6 & 11 by Cahen, & 3, 7, & 9 by Seffer. Line-up: Francois "Faton" Cahen - Grand piano Yochko Seffer - tenor & soprano saxophones (+flute on 10; piano on 3; vocalizes on 3 & 10) Produced by F. Cahen & Y. Seffer. Recorded by F. Cahen & Y. Seffer at "Linden" studio, Philadelphia, USA, in April & November 1980. Mastered by Jean-Pierre Mareuil in 2001.
Prologue. "Ethnic Duo" is the ProGduct of the collaboration between Francois Cahen and Yochko Seffer, both of which were the main masterminds of the legendary French band Zao, which existed in the 1970s. To read the review of one of the best solo albums by Francois Cahen, click here. Last week, I've written the review of Chris McGregor's album "Country Cooking", which was recently re-released by the same "Great Winds" label (which, in fact, is a division of "Musea Records"). In that review, I mentioned that "Great Winds" release by no means only the works of a pure Jazz. If you wish to refresh your memory about that review and compare it to this one, click here.
The Album. "Ethnic Duo" is an excellent example of a profound Jazz-Fusion, which, in a true meaning of the term, implies the confluence of Jazz and any form of progressive music. This album, which was composed, performed, and recorded (without any overdubs) by two men, is much more interesting than "Country Cooking" by the twenty-man big band-orchestra Brotherhood Of Breath. In that way, we get the following axiom: "The number of musicians doesn't influence the quality of music". Well, it's time to explain to you the contents of "Ethnic Duo". Francois Cahen is a Frenchman, Yochko Seffer is a Hungarian, and there are only two compositions on the album that have the traces of ethnic music: My French Roots and I Remember Miscolc (tracks 6 & 7). (Miscolc is one of Hungary's cities.) It's clear that both of these short tracks are the musical dedications to the homelands of these old friends. By the way, unlike all the other tracks that are featured on the album, these two pieces were performed not by the duo of them. My French Roots contains only piano passages, among which, however, I've noticed only the slight traces of the French folk music. Certainly, I Remember Miscolc features only the solos of sax that, for some reason, has a slight Eastern feel to them. A very short Franco-Hungarian Dance (8), consisting mostly of the same solos of piano and sax, performed in fourth and fifth, is the only playfully joyful piece on the album. Mancika (3) is another track that doesn't contain any parts of saxophone. Here, Yochko Seffer came out in the role of vocalist. His vocalize sounds in unison with the piano passages, repeating each note played by Francois Cahen. Desert of Gobi Sands and Witch & Gnome (1 & 4) are the pieces of a pure Jazz-Fusion where there are the symphonic passages of piano cross the improvisations of sax, most of which (if not all), though, were thoroughly composed as well. All five of the remaining tracks, namely Majestic Building, In Jordan's Garden, Sod, OB, and Changes (2, 5, 9, 10, & 11), are very profound compositions of a unified stylistic concept. (By the way, these five tracks last 47 minutes.) The arrangements that are featured on each of them consist of contrasting and very diverse interplay between passages of piano, most of which sound symphonic, and solos of saxophone, most of which represent the composed improvisations. These arrangements develop constantly and there is no place for repeats in them. Which, as most of us know, is typical for Academic Music. In fact, though, the stylistics of all five of the said compositions represents a unique blend of Classical Academic Music and Classic Symphonic Jazz-Fusion with the elements of RIO. In other words, the works of Fifth Element existed already then - in the end of the 1970s. (In fact, I am sure that the history of Fifth Element is inseparable from the history of progressive music in general.) Certainly, the alternation of power and soft, fast and slow, etc arrangements is typical for all five of the album's masterpieces as well.
Summary. What's interesting is that the majority of tracks that are featured on "Ethnic Duo" begin with a rather long intro, containing only the piano passages. Which means that it was Francois Cahen who laid the foundation of music of this album. However, the more you listen to the album the more you understand that both of these masters, Cahen and Seffer, amazingly supplement each other. I only regret that this wonderful album was created without a percussionist. Finally, I'd like to once again remind you that there are many of the progressive gems in the solo legacy of Francois Cahen (not to mention his old band Zao).
VM. May 7, 2002
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