Jac Berrocal is a French trumpeter and actor – he’s been working across free jazz, experimental and avant garde music since the 1970s and MDLV features music composed across 30 years, taking in Miles Davis-meets-John Zorn 80s-sounding jazz (Lonely Woman) and punkish cacophony (I Remember). It’s Berrocal’s first release in some 20 years and though it might seem piecemeal in its assembly it hangs together surprisingly well. A cover of Ornette Coleman’s Lonely Woman is an early highlight, the drums and trumpet seemingly calling to one another from opposite ends of a long hallway. It’s immediately followed by a cover of Suicide’s I Remember, lasting less than one minute this version a stub, a live coda but there’s something fascinating in the way Berrocal involves himself in this great range of musical ideas.
Spoken word pieces (Priere) mingle with the madness of a flurrying horn straying from what might almost be a drumkit being pushed down a flight of stairs in chase (Metallic Bay), and then the lovely cinematic waft of a piece like Ministres en conseil suggests music that was likely part of the set of diverse influences that helped to raise players like Sebastien Tellier or Arthur Russell.
There’s something exquisite in Berrocal’s playing and you hear it here on the after-hours playing that imbibes Kinderlieder and After The Rain and then when you listen to something like Signe Particulier you can hear strains of Morphine. That you find it all in this one place is hypnotic, dizzying, a little discombobulating but often thrilling. A strange talent. A lot to digest here. Some of it – the best of it – seeming so vital still.