Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Great Jewish Music - Serge Gainsbourg

The music world has certainly been enriched since composer and saxophonist John Zorn got his consciousness raised about his Jewishness. He subsequently formed a band with the ominous name Masada and established the Tzadik label, which has produced some of the best avant-garde recordings of the last ten years. Tzadik's fledgling Great Jewish Music series promises to be excellent, if this album is any indication. On it various members of the American and British avant-establishment take turns arranging songs by the great French songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, with results varying from fairly straightforward (Cibo Matto's surprisingly gentle "Je T'aime, Moi Non Plus" and Ikue Mori's delightful "Pauvre Lola") to bizarrely wonderful (Faith No More frontman Mike Patton's take on "Ford Mustang" and Zorn's own all-vocal "Contact"). Medeski, Martin and Wood contribute a version of "Intoxicated Man" on which Medeski does his best to imitate a woozy French accordion before veering off into the trio's more familiar organic jazz-funk territory; Fred Frith acquits himself nicely on a one-man-band version of "The Ballad of Melody Nelson." All in all, this is a fine and fitting tribute to an underappreciated songwriter. ~ Rick Anderson, All Music Guide

01 Elysian Fields - Les Amours Perdues
02 Mike Patton - Ford Mustang
03 Wayne Horvitz & Robin Holcomb - Bonnie And Clyde
04 Cyro Baptista - Là-Bas C'Est Naturel
05 Kramer - 69 Année Èrotique
06 Ikue Mori - Pauvre Lola
07 Fred Frith - The Ballad Of Melody Nelson
08 JON - Les Sucettes
09 Ruins - L' Homme Á Tête De Chou
10 Anthony Coleman - Ce Mortel Ennui
11 Eszter Balint - Un Poison Violent, C'Est Ça L'Amour
12 David Shea - Initials B.B
13 Eyvind Kang - Sous Le Soleil Exactement
14 Steve Beresford - Couleur Café
15 Blonde Redhead - Le Chanson De Slogan
16 John Zorn - Contact
17 Cibo Matto - Je T'Aime, Moi Non Plus
18 Medeski, Martin & Wood - Intoxicated Man
19 Shelley Hirsch - Comic Strip
20 Franz Treichler - Requiem Pour Un Con
21 Marc Ribot - Black Trombone


marram62 said...


marram62 said...

"Born to Russian-Jewish parents, Lucien Ginzburg was to become a sex symbol and superstar as Serge Gainsbourg, one of France's greatest singer-songwriters, whose music, lyrics and arrangements are among the most personal and eclectic in the history of French popular music. His controversial career spanned over forty years of intense creativity, with Gainsbourg restlessly shifting gears, growing listening and learning, never standing still. Like many of the world's greatest artists his career divides into several periods reflecting his changing musical obsessions: jazz, pop, rock, funk, reggae, techno... and yet his work consistently bears the mark of one man's peculiar vision. His eternal fixations: sex and its relation to love, death and alcohol.

Gainsbourg's poetry slyly combines his Jewish sense of humor with the French romantic tradition and the perverse twists inherited from Gérard de Nerval, Baudelaire, Genet, Bataille and Sade.
Gainsbourg, too, was a master of the French language. He was also a natural musician who makes the impossible look easy. His deceptively simple vamps and ostinatos blend with subtle harmonic shaddings and hypnotic rhythms that seem to change while remaining the same. His ear for sound and studio orchestration is uniquely unique.

Like many Jews who were raised in an atmosphere of mild-to-violent anti semitism (Fritz Lang, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Nathanial West) Gainsbourg downplayed his Jewish roots. Jewishness was not an active part of his public persona. But Jewish identity is a complex thing. Accept it as a blessing or curse it as a disease, it is part of you whether you like it or not. And it is there in Gainsbourg's songs. At times certain inflections, lyrics or turns-of-phrase sound strangely Jewish, but I will leave the provocative discussion of just how jewish his music is to another time and another place.

It is my sincere hope that this compilation will introduce Gainsbourg's music to a whole new audience, and serve as a tribute to the memory of one of the Twentieth Century's greatest composers of popular songs. These twenty-one tracks are a small sampling of his work. I urge you to search out the original versions. Devour them. Live with them. They will delight and surprise you time and time again. The genius of Serge Gainsbourg lives on in the music he has left us. But, still we miss him."

John Zorn NYC 1997