The second album of the French Orchestre National de Jazz (ONJ) under the artistic direction of composer-guitarist Frédéric Maurin attempts to suggest a musical conception of everyday rituals, ones that punctuate the cycle of very lives, the seasons, and civilizations, Maurin with four other musicians-composer – Ellinoa, Sylvaine Hélary, Leïla Martial, and Grégoire Letouvet, co-wrote the music for a chorus of four vocalists and 13 instrumentalists (slightly different from the personnel on the previous «Dancing in Your Head(s)», keeping Portuguese trumpeter Susana Silva Santos, adding trombonist Christiane Bopp and violist Guillaume Roy), evoking an illusion of time as a repetitive sonic puzzle.
«Rituels» is a double album and its compositions are loosely inspired by ancient and mystic texts from the lore of the different continents as appeared in American poet and Jerome Rothenberg’s collection «The Technicians of the Sacred» (1968), some were in runic alphabet or coming from ancient Egypt, and adding a poem by Federico Garcia Lorca on «Le monde fleur». These untimely texts deal with life, death, joy and grief, love, sex, and everything that makes humanity unique. The transformation of these ancient texts into eight extended, modern chamber jazz soundscapes, centered around the vocalists Ellinoa, Leïla Martial, Swedish Linda Oláh and Romain Davez who often employ their voices as another instrument. charges them with colorful and often poetic vivaciousness.
As on the previous release of ONJ, «Dancing in Your Head(s)», the orchestral arrangements are playful and engaging, But the choral arrangements are what makes this collective work so special. These arrangements and the inspired, sometimes celestial delivery of the four vocal artists allow the whole ONJ to sing and inject a mysterious and seductive sensual dimension to the nuanced, chamber jazz arrangements and dare to incorporate ideas from contemporary music and free-improvised vocalizations.
This double album takes us on a journey to a contrasting world of vivid poetic flashes where powerful crescendos («Le monde fleur», «Femme délit…») appear side by side with a wide spectrum of orchestral colors («Rituel», «La métamorphose»), omnipresent fantasy («Naissance(s) de la nuit», «Aiôn») and intoxicating soloists. The resulting Rituels unveils a more organic facet of the ONJ and an abundant universe that stirs the imagination.
Ellinoa (v), Leïla Martial (v), Linda Oláh (v), Romain Davez (v), Catherine Delaunay (cl, basset horn), Julien Soro (as, cl), Fabien Debellfontaine (ts, cl, fl), Susana Santos Silva (tp), Christiane Bopp (tb), Didier Havet (btb, tuba), Stéphan Caracci (vib, mar, glockenspiel, perc), Rafaël Koerner (dr), Bruno Ruder (p), Elsa Moati (vio), Guillaume Roy (viola); Juliette Serrad (c), Raphaël Schwab (b)