Crossover Prog • France

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Jean-Jacques Toussaint biography
French composer and multi-instrumentalist Jean-Jacques TOUSSAINT was born in October 1956, and from his teens and onwards music has been a central part of his life. At first he explored the classical guitar, then he took lessons on the piano, with bouts as guitarist and vocalist in various rock bands to follow, eventually deciding that the bass guitar should be his main instrument towards the end of the 1970's. Spells as a theatre musician and then jazz musician was taken on, and also periods as a cabaret pianist. In 1986 he formed progressive rock band Tiemko alongside Eric Delaunay and Rémy Chauvidan, a band that would record and release music well into the 1990's.

In 2009 he made his debut as a solo artist with the album Travelling, an eclectic instrumental effort covering multiple styles, approaches and genres. Besides Toussaint himself also featuring a number of guest musicians lending their talents to his compositions.

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 Travelling by TOUSSAINT, JEAN-JACQUES album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.00 | 1 ratings

Jean-Jacques Toussaint Crossover Prog

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
3 stars I've had my share of listening to eclectic and varied sounding albums. This offering from Jean-Jacques Toussaint qualifies as one of them and also amongst those albums of this nature I like a lot.

Jean Jacques Toussaint is the keyboards and bass player for Tiemko, a French instrumental prog-rock group. This helps explain part of the name of this album. At first I though the second part, Travelling, referred to a second French prog-rock group called Travelling (playing in the Canterbury style), however it appears not to be the case. There is a note in the booklet saying in French: "Travelling: a path that leads nowhere, since nowhere is still the most mysterious place there is". In this album Jean-Jacques plays the keyboards, guitar, contrabass and does programming. He has a wide array of musicians playing along with him in the different pieces on instruments like guitar, saxophone, trumpet, accordion, trombone, violin, drums and tablas. The album was released through the French prog-rock label, Musea in 2009.

This is an instrumental album and the variety here is in the particular style of each track; from pensive, meditative moments (Ballade Sur Un Nuage) to jazzy and avant-rock tunes (Malthus, which seems to draw inspiration from Miriodor-like bands and style), to dark and sinister movements (Passage, with a powerful and driving bass line ? apparenty played by keys; this track sounds at times Univers Zero-inspired), chamber music (Petite Symphonie Mecanique; again reminding me a bit of Univers Zero, Present and their ilk). The album seems almost like a compilation of sorts, as if offering us the best tracks of a long musical journey of a musician. There is more, of course, throughout the course of this 13 track long album, much to enjoy and concentrate on as themusic unravels. One track that stand out in particular for me is American Gang which sounds like an amalgam of jazz, rock and ambient and is actually too short and could have benefited from an extension in which more exploration could have been done. Another interesting track is the electronics-infused Cartoune which sounds like a frenzied adventure inside the electric circuits of an old desktop computer. It is nicely balanced between the keyboards effects and the electric guitar work that act together to achieve an odd sounding piece (I mean that in a good way). Orient is a more delicate piece, with a prominent bass and pleasant supporting keyboards; this sounds like a more "typical" prog-rock piece, with a jazzy flavour. The use of tablas adds a special aroma to the overall sound here, a nice touch that spices up the atmosphere.

If you're into an eclectic instrumental adventure and you like the wide array of styles/bands mentioned above, I recommend giving this a listen. With a running time of 63 minutes, you should find several of these tunes to your liking.


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