Categories are devilish things. They seem to exist solely for the purpose of being defied. This goes doubly so when it comes to music, where the albums I find most fascinating and personally resonant resist having a single, easy label applied to them. They say: Just listen for yourself. Months of trying to explain this album to others gave way to me simply pointing to the audio samples. Even a collage of thirty-second snippets speaks louder than any label, and most descriptions too.
I have the equivalent of a whole shelf of music that has nominally been labeled “jazz”, but which could easily sport any of a dozen other categories. Onze Danses has been variously lumped into “jazz”, “world”, “avant-garde”, or that lazy big-box-store catchall “rock”, and while it easily touches down in every single one of those categories it never stays in any one of them long enough to set up housekeeping, or be mistaken for a resident. When writing an earlier draft of this review I came up with the term “gypsy music”, and it stuck. Read more