Clotilde Madeleine Rullaud, a French singer and flautist who feels a strong connection to Lebanon, and pianist and singer Alexandre Salomon Saada, originally from a Jewish family in North Africa, are long-time friends and colleagues. During a 2014 tour of Asia they discovered they had in common some strong points of interest and concern, from jazz on out. Both are drawn to the idea of a more open and equal world and their first recording, the 2016 A Woman’s Journey, paid tribute to the commitment of female American singers.
Madeleine’s engagingly pitched vocals embrace a range of tone, interval and dynamics, rhythm and overall expression and she also contributes fine flute to several tracks here (sample Rhapsodie 1). Salomon is a pianist drawn to an emotive range of rolling repeated figures and lyrical, strongly imagistic suggestion: hear the modulated minimalism of Ma Fatsch Leah or the poised “inward” weight of the repeated chordal figures in Do You Love Me?
The political and cultural focus here is the Mediterranean region as Eastern Spring revisits the militant pop which came out of Morocco and Tunisia, Iran, Lebanon, Israel and Turkey in the 1960s and 1970s. Lamenting the loss of the promise of many an “Arab spring” and sung chiefly in (excellent) English and French, the music is complemented by an extract from Alan Ginsberg’s Howl with its famous opening line – “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness.”
While the protesting, often tragic import of much of the music is clear – witness the fervent Lili Twil as well as the similarly pitched take on the Anatolian rock classic Ince Ince Bir Kar Yağar – it’s never overdone: a contemplative ethos flows in and out of music which includes the Israeli nursery rhyme Ha’yalada Hachi Yafa Ba’gan.
Some judicious multi-tracking contributes to a compelling aural field of both political and poetic consequence and the fold-out sleeve booklet has all lyrics, most of them translated into English. A striking and special project, this.
Matar Naem; Ma Fatsh Leah; Komakam Kon / Howl; De L’Orient À Orion / Rhapsodie 1; Ince Ince Bir Kar Yağar / Rhapsodie 2; Lili Twil / Rhapsodie 3; Layil; Dere Geliyor Dere / Rhapsodie 4 / Ha’yalada Hachi Yafa Ba’gan; Do You Love Me? (43.04)
Clotilde Rullaud (v, f); Alexandre Saada (p, v); Jean-Paul Gonnod (fx). Amiens, 21-22 February 2022.