The Squid's Ear Magazine

Gauguet, Bertrand / John Tilbury: Contre-Courbes [2 CDs] (Akousis Records)

Two concert recordings between alto saxophonist Bertrand Gauget and pianist John Tilbury, one at Eglise Saint Maximin, in Metz, France in 2016 and the other at Festival Paysages d'écoute at Les Quinconces, France in 2019, leveraging the natural resonance of both spaces as they perform with concentrative pacing using advanced techniques to create drama and intensity.

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product information:

Label: Akousis Records
Catalog ID: AK002
Squidco Product Code: 29932

Format: 2 CDs
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: France
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold 3 Panels
CD 1 recorded live at Eglise Saint Maximin, in Metz, France, on April 16th, 2016, by Bertrand Gauguet.

CD 2 recorded live at Festival Paysages d'écoute at Les Quinconces, L'Espal scene nationale du Mans, France, on November 22, 2019, by Ivan Charbit and Benjamin Perru.


Bertrand Gauguet-alto saxophone

John Tilbury-piano

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Sample The Album:

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"The second release for this label sees the return of Bertrand Gauguet (alto saxophone; see also Vital Weekly 1234), but this time with two concert recordings he did with John Tilbury on the piano. On the first CD, this is a recording from April 2016 in Merz and the second was recorded in November 2019 in Le Mans. Tilbury you may know as a performer of modern classical compositions (Cage, Feldman, Wolf, Cardew and so on), or from his work with AMM and other improvisations. Gauguet is someone who is connected to the world of improvisation, having worked with Insub Meta Orchestra, Thomas Lehn, Michel Doneda, Thomas Korber and many others. Both concerts are between forty and fifty minutes and the first time I made the 'mistake' to play both of them in a row. That was a bit too much. The music played by these two gentlemen requires quite some attention, as it is both 'slow' and 'low'. Notes are played with great care, the occasional few piano tones here, and some saxophone over there. Both leave gaps, but it never becomes very quiet, or for a very long time. Gauguet seems to have a penchant for longer, sustaining notes and most of the time these are eerie and sine-wave like. Tilbury stays on the keyboard, most of the time (and as far as I can judge) and his isolated notes have great depth when played in the lower range, and a bell-like quality in the higher range. On very few occasions the two play something else, Gauget shorter blasts on the horn and Tilbury... your guess is as good as mine. It is there where the album gets another mysterious level, where you don't have this idea of listening to a saxophone and piano record, but a duet of new instruments and sounds. Especially this seems to be happening on the second disc; or perhaps it appears here for a longer period, the main second part of their concert, slowly returning to their 'normal' playing. Both of these pieces are intense listening pieces, requiring a lot of the listener, but once you are all open up to the experience, some great beauty will unfold. You need to take your time with this one!"-Fran de Waard, Vital Weekly

Get additional information at Vital Weekly

Artist Biographies

"Bertrand Gauguet is a musician trudging through a practice without hierarchy involving sound and music: as an improvising saxophonist, electronic music composer and as a sounds collector.

He plays since the early 2000s the alto saxophone in contexts of solo and group improvisation. His approach takes part in research on the technical areas of the instrument by which precise exploration of a sound language consists of materials produced by the breath, multiphonics and microphony.

Collaborations with John Tilbury, Robin Hayward, Franz Hautzinger, Xavier Charles, Sophie Agnel, Pascal Battus, Eric La Casa, Michel Doneda, Insub Meta Orchestra, Seijiro Murayama Tetuzi Akiyama, Toshimaru Nakamura, John Butcher, Axel Dörner, Isabelle Duthoit... Many festivals about new and experimental music (Europe, USA, Japan ...).

As an electronic music composer, he composes original music and original soundtracks with dance, movies and radio broadcast. He produced the LP The Torn Map in 2013.

In 2011, he was a resident of the villa Kujoyama in Kyoto. He studied the shakuhachi while learning to Honkyoku directory with Mr Yoshio Kurahashi.

Since 2004, he taught at the Haute Ecole des Arts du Rhin in the Sonic research program he co-founded in 2007. He leads the generative improvisation workshop at CFMI in Sélestat since 2012 and conducted educational workshops at the Cité de la Musique in Paris from 2002 to 2012."

-Bertrand Gauguet Website (

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"John Tilbury (born 1 February 1936) is a British pianist. He is considered one of the foremost interpreters of Morton Feldman's music, and since 1980 has been a member of the free improvisation group AMM.

Tilbury studied piano at the Royal College of Music with Arthur Alexander and James Gibb and also with Zbigniew Drzewiecki in Warsaw. 1968 he was the winner of the Gaudeamus competition in the Netherlands.

During the 1960s, Tilbury was closely associated with the composer Cornelius Cardew, whose music he has interpreted and recorded and a member of the Scratch Orchestra. His biography of Cardew, "Cornelius Cardew - A life unfinished" was published in 2008.

Tilbury has also recorded the works of Howard Skempton and John White, among many others, and has also performed adaptations of the radio plays of Samuel Beckett.

With guitarist AMM bandmate Keith Rowe's electroacoustic ensemble M.I.M.E.O., Tilbury recorded The Hands of Caravaggio, inspired by the painter's The Taking of Christ {1602). In this live performance, twelve of the members of M.I.M.E.O. were positioned around the piano in a deliberate echo of Christ's Last Supper. The thirteenth M.I.M.E.O. member (Cor Fuhler) is credited with "inside piano" as he interacted and interfered with Tilbury's playing by manipulating and damping the instrument's strings, essentially doing piano preparation in real time. Critic Brian Olewnick describes the album as "A staggering achievement, one is tempted to call The Hands of Caravaggio the first great piano concerto of the 21st century."

Another notable recent recording of Tilbury's was Duos for Doris (like The Hands of Caravaggio also on Erstwhile Records), a collaboration with Keith Rowe. It is widely considered a landmark recording in the genre of electroacoustic improvisation (or "EAI").

In 2013 he collaborated with artist Armando Lulaj in FIEND performance at the National Theatre of Tirana (Albania)."

-Wikipedia (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Track Listing:

CD 1

1. Live at ƒglise Saint Maximin, Metz (France) 42:04

CD 2

1. Live at Festival Paysages dՎcoute at Les Quinconces - LŐEspal scne nationale du Mans (France) 43:54

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
European Improvisation, Composition and Experimental Forms
Duo Recordings
Recordings by or featuring Reed & Wind Players
Piano & Keyboards
Recordings Utilizing the Natural Resonance of a Space
lowercase, reductionist, micro-improv, sound improv, onkyo sound

Search for other titles on the label:
Akousis Records.

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