MATE, PHILIPPE & JEF GILSON
Made up of two long improvisations each of over 22mn, “L'Œil” on side A and “Vision” on side B, this “Workshop” by Jef Gilson, with the gifted young saxophonist Philippe Maté, plunges you into the depths, attempting to drown you in electronic waves, dragging you back to the surface by the collar, giving you a good shakedown, before showing you the light, leaving you breathless on the shore after 46mn of the most intense music French has to offer.
In October 1974, the first number of “L'Indépendant du Jazz”, a small self-produced magazine DIY -before punk supposedly invented the concept- was launched by Jef Gilson, Gérard Terronès, Jean-Jacques Pussiau and a few other specialists of a different kind of jazz in France, it looked at the already long career of Jef Gilson and in detail at the album with saxophonist Philippe Maté :
“The ‘Workshop’ is, with Philippe Maté (alto-sax), an undeniable success. Maté is genuinely ‘the’ most inventive French saxophonist since Michel Portal burst onto the jazz scene (who has also worked with Jef Gilson on both “Enfin” and “Gaveau”).”
Even though the author of the article is a mysterious I.H. Dubiniou, and it is difficult to know if it is a real person or a pseudonym used by one of the merry bunch, it is also tempting to hear it as what Jef Gilson really thought about his new discovery. Even more so as the two men would work together over a long period, as Maté became one of the key figures of Gilson’s Europamerica orchestra up until the 1980s.
Philippe Maté had started to make a name for himself with the Acting Trio when they released an album on the BYG label in 1969, and he was also one of the regular sidemen for the Saravah studios (he can notably be heard on albums by Higelin, Fontaine or his cult duo album with Daniel Vallancien).
The album was recorded on 4 February 1972, at the Foyer de Montorgueuil, where Gilson had set up his studio, with more or less the same team found on “La Marche Dans Le Désert” by Sahib Shihab + Gilson Unit (recorded ten days later). This was drummer Jean-Claude Pourtier and pianist Pierre Moret (regular Gilson accomplices since “Le Massacre Du Printemps”), alongside Maurice Bouhana and Bruno Di Gioa on various percussions and/or wind instruments. On bass is Didier Levallet, of the now mythical Perception, (Jean-François Catoire would replace him with Shihab) and Philippe Maté who took top billing, rather than the American saxophonist afterwards. The two albums are however quite different. This “Workshop” is more abrasive, more free. Made up of two long improvisations each of over 22mn, “L'Œil” on side A and “Vision” on side B (Gilson specialists would recognise the nod to one of his albums from the 60s), the album plunges you into the depths, attempting to drown you in electronic waves, dragging you back to the surface by the collar, giving you a good shakedown, before showing you the light, leaving you breathless on the shore after 46mn of the most intense music French has to offer.
“An undeniable success”, they said.