The Squid's Ear Magazine

Kassap, Sylvain / Benjamin Duboc: Le Funambule (Dark Tree Records)

With mystery and drama the duo of clarinetist Sylvain Kassap and double bassist Benjamin Duboc start their performance with whisperings, Kassap's expanded range and vocabulary on the clarinet evocative against Duboc's strong bowing and plucking, as they both take their listeners across a tightrope of carefully balanced, masterfully evolving free conversation.

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product information:

UPC: 3473351000123

Label: Dark Tree Records
Catalog ID: DT12
Squidco Product Code: 28057

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2019
Country: France
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Le Comptoir, in Fontenay-sous-Bois, on January 3rd, 2019, by Benjamin Duboc.


Sylvain Kassap-clarinet, bass clarinet

Benjamin Duboc-double bass, voice

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Sample The Album:

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"And it's all about tightrope walking, a fragile balance, on the thread, fragility that they display from the beginning of their concert by inviting the public to lend their ears to understand what they are say almost beyond the audible spectrum, the clarinettist in tiny high-pitched chirps, the bass player playing the bow on the tailpiece of his instrument. Then, using all the resources acquired through their careers as improvisers and their work in the field of contemporary music grope groping their ears to the other - a situation that recalls last year's opening performance of the 2018 edition by Barre Phillips and the dancer Julyen Hamilton - with his exclamations, his jubilations, his emotions, his tenderness, his nervousness, his uncertainties and his distractions ... until this interrogation on a possible end - reminding me of many similar moments between Phillips and Hamilton - to which Benjamin Duboc seems to oppose a refusal by replying a new invitation to conversation, but as with regret ... and it is on these points of suspension following a raise of contrabass that a spectator, of an untimely applause involving those of the whole public, decides to pose a n end point." (via Google Translate)

Artist Biographies

"Born in 1956, French Clarinettist Sylvain Kassap has been one of the greatest improv jazz musicians since the late 70s. A major player on the avant-garde scene, Kassap has performed with Louis Sclavis, Michel Portal, Henri Texier, Bernard Lubat, François Tusques, and many other cutting-edge French musicians. He has also played along side a large number of innovative international musicians such as Evan Parker, John Surman, Barre Philips, Sam Rivers, Hamid Drake, Han Bennink.

Kassap uses his clarinets in ways that go well beyond conventional melodic and harmonic expectations. With percussive bursts and textural sounds, Kassap expands the range and vocabulary of the instrument. He has also been a pioneer in fusing the arts, collaborating with actors, dancers and writers. And, he has made occasional forays into contemporary classical music, performing works by John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen and other experimental composers. From free improvisation to contemporary and ethnic music, leading French clarinetist Sylvain Kassap explores a world that is rich in colour and finesse, animated by an unquenchable spirit of freedom."

-France in Canada (

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"Benjamin Duboc is a very strong voice on double bass, born 1969, studied with JF Jenny-Clark & Bernard Cazauran, and has played with many great musicians (as Ernest Dawkins, Bertrand Denzler, Roy Campbell, Jean-Luc Cappozzo, Sabir Mateen, Byard Lancaster, Daniel Erdmann, Abdelahaï Bennani, Michel Doneda, Daunik Lazro, Sunny Murray, John Betsch...). And also with Henry Grimes for a great duet in Paris. He leads the "Nuts" quintet with Itaru Oki & Rasul Siddik on trumpets, & Makoto Sato & Didier Lasserre on drums. He plays in "The fish" with Jean-Luc Guionnet on alto sax & Edward Perraud on drums (double cd on Ayler Records) and Rocks in the Sea with Mario Rechtern, Eric Zinman and Didier Lasserre. Benjamin has a beautiful and big sound, you really feel the ground while hearing him... it's somethin' ! He also is recorded on Amor Fati, Futura Marge, Creative sources, le petit label, sansbruit."

-Benjamin Duboc Website (

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Track Listing:

1. vers le bleu 16:34

2. c'est narcisse qui danse 03:32

3. le ventre de socrate 19:50

4. metamorphose de la poussieere 03:48

5. le soir descendu sur la piste (entre les reeves) 04:31

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
European Improvisation, Composition and Experimental Forms
Duo Recordings
Stringed Instruments
Recordings by or featuring Reed & Wind Players

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Dark Tree Records.

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