Qüntêt («one head» in French) is a collective of five forward-thinking musicians headed by trombonist-vocalist Jean-Louis Pommier – co-founder of the label and musicians collective Yolk – operating since 1998, always seeking new adventures. Qüntêt new album, «CrossWords/Mots Croisés», features Desdamona, American hip-hop and spoken word artist from Minneapolis, known for her criticism of male dominance of hip hop and chauvinism in general. The quintet is augmented also by acclaimed tuba player François Thuillier.
The joint project of Qüntêt and Desdamona takes modern-day jazz back to the times that it was more than a genre, jazz as an attitude that questions and challenges mechanism of power, artistic as political ones. «An attitude that draws on the history of the music as much as on the new forms of languages which keep on coming out». That attitude welcomes not only elements from the rich jazz legacy but is also ideas of free-improv, freestyle, spoken word, rap, poetry. All delivered in crisscrossing languages – English and French – raging with its immediate pulses and beats and its intense energy.
Desdamona recommends already on the first piece, «Tension Palpable/Tension» to surrender to the heated flow of the rhythm of Qüntêt and Thuillier: «Go with the flow / Loosen your grip a bit / And let it go…» The bilingual duets of Pommier and Desdamona are the most interesting pieces. These pieces are more playful – sobering, story-like stagings of digital-era, noisy urban romances, where everything is happening, communicated, processed and screened so quickly, as if subscribing to a never-ending, fast-shifting pulse, with no time to navigate according to an inner emotional compass. Desdamona suggestive and sensual delivery, often brings to mind the spoken word poet Ursula Rucker, contrasts and somehow complement the unassuming, supposedly indifferent one of Pommier, both voices stressing the multi-layered, rhythmic interplay of Qüntêt and Thuillier. The instrumental pieces, «Soft and sad» and «Corps à corps», reflects on Pommier and Desdamona vocal correspondence with an emotional solos of sax player Alban Darche and Rémi Sciuto.
This moving journey concludes with an inspiring conclusion, distilled in the lyrics of «Education physique»: «To go to sleep or to love / To resist, not to flee / To take a chance without trembling / To give everything within a gesture / To be involved, naked / For the body knows only one language / Spoken hand-to-hand…».
The full lyrics are on Jean-Louis Pommier website: http://http://www.jelopommier.com/
Jean-Louis Pommier (tb, v, spoken word), Desdamona (spoken word, v), Alain Vankenhove (tp, bugle), Alban Darche (s), Rémi Sciuto (bs, bass, as, cl, fl), François Thuillier (tuba), Christophe Lavergne (dr, perc)