September 14, 2010

Concert Review - La Villette Jazz Festival 2010

The artistic direction of the 2010 La Villette Jazz Festival in northern Paris, did a fantastic job not only to gather an exciting line-up of artists but also to present rare live collaborations between musicians from different horizons.
Here are a few impressions on the various concerts I could attend. I hope you'll enjoy it.

La direction artistique du La Villette Jazz Festival 2010 a non seulement réussi à assembler un plateau d'artistes de premier plan mais a aussi (et surtout) brillamment permis des collaborations scéniques quasi-inédites entre des musiciens d'horizons variés. Après cette quinzaine métissée riche en surprises voici mes impressions sur les nombreux concerts auxquels j'ai pu assister.

Abraham Inc (David Krakauer / FredWesley / SoCalled)
Cité De La Musique - 04/09/2010
David Krakauer
A fine southern soulfood cuisine chef getting his grocery supply from Nyc's legendary gourmet kosher store Zabar's may be an easy way to introduce Abraham Inc.
Fred Wesley
Assembling legendary funk trombone player Fred Wesley, famous Klezmer music clarinetist David Krakauer and canadian klezmer-hiphop producer's SoCalled, the collective started working together two or three years back I believe, released an album, but is first and foremost a crazy live project. 
So how did they sound like in Paris?

SoCalled
With the help of their brilliant supporting band (special mention to Alex Coke on tenor sax), they gave a set full of joy, humour and improvisation. 
The combination of classic funky horns with David Krakauer's energetic clarinette and SoCalled's cool flow and dismantled beats clearly is a tasty recipe for fun. 
Among the highlights of the concert were the funny 10-mn long versions of JB's classics "Breaking Bread" and "House Party" where the trio kept on tchating and joking between groovy solos. These guys are having a funn(k)y time playing together and we surely could feel it! Not to be missed if they play anywhere nearby you.

Courtesy of ArteLiveWeb you can watch for a limited time this whole concert with a video streaming!

Collectif inattendu rassemblant le légendaire tromboniste funk Fred Wesley, le clarinettiste juif new-yorkais de musique Klezmer David Krakauer et le surprenant producteur hip-hop juif-canadien SoCalled, Abraham Inc était une réelle énigme pour moi. 
Plus du tout après quelques minutes de concert tant le mélange hip-hop/funk/musique yddish proposé par le groupe sonne comme une association évidente fonctionnant à merveille sur scène. L'énergie, la bonne humeur et l'humour dont font preuve le trio sont aussi à souligner comme l'ingrédient ultime d'une reçette explosive. Les versions longues des classiques des JB's "Breaking Bread" et "House Party"  furent mémorables. Un show festif d'une rare fraicheur, à voir absolument s'ils se produisent près de chez vous dans les mois à venir. 
Ci-dessus lien vers le site d'ArteLiveWeb qui diffuse l'intégrale du concert en streaming sur son site pour quelques semaines

Piers Faccini & Vincent Ségal
Cabaret Sauvage - 05/09/2010 (4pm set)
Piers Faccini
Introducing Alice Russel show, french/italian folk singer Piers Faccini and french cello player Vincent Ségal gave an intimate acoustic 1h-long set focusing on Piers's songs and various obscure covers ranging from country music to old italian songs.
Vincent Ségal
Vincent Ségal amazing cello playing style (does he play bass, guitar or actual cello with his beloved instrument?) is not a surprise for anyone who has seen him with his band Bumcello or as a musician for french pop star M, but in such an intimate set-up the finesse and sensibility of his play were simply stunning.
On his side Pier's sensible & melancolic guitar's play and vocals also conveyed a healthy dose of emotions. It really was a moving moment to see these two friends play together seven years after their close collaboration on Pier's beautiful first album called "Leave No Trace".
Below a video of their interpretation of "Ugly Places" :

Jolie idée d'avoir programmé en première partie du show acoustique d'Alice Russel, le duo Piers Faccini-Vincent Ségal qui se connait bien pour avoir étroitement collaboré il y a 7 ans sur le sublime premier album folk de Piers intitulé "Leave No Trace". Se concentrant sur des morceaux de cet album plus quelques reprises improbables de chansons populaires italiennes ou d'inspiration country, les deux amis ont offert une prestation acoustique pleine de finesse et de sensibilité qui cadrait très bien avec un Cabaret Sauvage assagi dans une version places assises particulièrement "cosy". 

Alice Russell - Live Acoustic Session
Cabaret Sauvage - 05/09/2010 (4pm set)
Alice Russell
After this smooth intro, Alice Russell and her young band, set-up in an acoustic fashion (cello and violins taking the place of her usual horns section), came on stage for a 1h-and-a-half set where they played several of their classic tunes plus an amazing forthcoming track and a few covers (from Sarah Vaughan or Donny Hathaway).
Compared to the "regular" non-acoustic show I had seen last year at the Bataclan, which I enjoyed but founded a bit too strict and formal, she and her band were much more relaxed and prone to improvisation this time. After several soul ballads they managed to have most of the seated audience forget about the cosy chairs to end up dancing during the last half -hour of enthusiastic acoustic funk.
My favorite moments of the show where the beautiful cover of one of my favorite classic jazz song "The Mystery Of Man" from Sarah Vaughn and her explosive new track due out this week I believe (I can't wait, but don't know the title). The audience loved it so much that everyone kept on singing the chorus between each of the remaining songs of the show!
Small video of this song below :

Ayant troqué les habituels cuivres de son jeune groupe contre une contrebasse et deux violons, c'est dans une version acoustique qu'Alice Russell a interprété pendant presque 2h ses classiques soul/funk mais aussi quelques covers, dont une très belle version de "The Mistery Of Man" de Sarah Vaughan qui est une de mes chansons jazz préférées
Chassez le naturel il revient au galop et, acoustique ou pas, le groupe a accéléré le tempo pour une dernière demi-heure très funky ou le Cabaret (trop) sagement assis s'est rapidement levé pour danser. Son prochain morceau à sortir dans les jours à venir et dont le titre m'a échappé fut particulièrement dévastateur (streaming video ci-dessus).

Gil Scott-Heron 
Cité de la Musique - 08/09/2010
Following his moving come-back in Paris last May for a splendid evening at the New Morning (extensive review here), Gil was back in Paris for a second time in 2010 (and in the last 10 years actually).
I'll make it quick as the 1h30mn-long show was quite similar to the New Morning one (tracklisting below) but maybe less intimate as the Cité de la Musique is a much larger venue. If I found Gil tired physically (he has been touring a lot for these last few months) he nevertheless offered us another beautiful moment of soulful spirituality.

My favorite parts of the show probably were his humoristic and powerful version of Three Miles Down and Tony Duncanson's 7- or 8-mn long astonishing congas solo on The Bottle.
Tracklisting : Blue Collar - Winter In America - We Almost Lost Detroit/Work For Peace Medley - Three Miles Down - I'll take care of you - The Other Side (Parts I, II & III) - The Bottle - Better Days Ahead

As I concluded my latest post on this immense artist : if there were more Gil's, the world would surely be a better place!

  Below a small video of "Winter In America" with his legendary folktale intro:


J'ai longuement relaté sur le blog le come-back à la fois splendide et émouvant de Gil à Paris en Mai dernier au New Morning.
Le concert de la Cité de la Musique fut similaire en terme de tracklisting (voir ci-dessus) et si ce fut un autre grand moment de groove spirituel, la taille de la salle et la relative fatigue de Gil, qui a beaucoup tourné récemment, ont rendu cette soirée moins magique que celle de Mai.
Le solo de congas de 10mn de Tony Duncanson sur "The Bottle" ou la version merveilleuse de "Three Miles Down" resteront néanmoins dans ma mémoire!

Robert Glasper's Experiment / Stefon Harris / Pete Rock
Tribute To Roy Ayers - Cabaret Sauvage - 11/09/10
Robert Glasper (my favorite contemporary jazz/groove pianist) and his brilliant inseparable crew has been teaming up recently with hip-hop producer Pete Rock and acclaimed vibraphonist Stefon Harris to throw a few live sessions focusing on the eternal music from Roy Ayers.
La Villette festival's team had the brilliant idea to invite them in the red-hot Cabaret Sauvage for what happened to be my favorite show of the whole week!
Pete Rock's sampled beats loops, Chris Dave's phenomenal drumming and Derrik Hodge's deep basslines set-up a fantastic rythmic frame, ripe to let Robert Glasper (Piano & Rhodes) and Stefon Harris (vibraphone) add a splendid layer of warm grooves so disctinctive of Ayers' universe.
On top of that Casey Benjamin took charge of vocals with his mesmerizing vocoder, while also droppin a few memorable sax solos.
What made the concert truly unique was its sort of "jam-spirit".
I really had the impression to see a giant impro session with some of the most talented musicians of the current jazz/groove/beats universe having fun readapting for more than 2 hours several Roy's classics (I Live In Philly, Searchin'...).
The concert actually really moved on to a true jam in the end when the crew improvised on several Jay Dilla anthems (Stakes Is High, The Light, Fall In Love...) or Kenny Burke's groove classic "Risin' To The Top".
They were even joined on stage by nu-soul singer Bilal to conclude a stunning 15mn-long version of "Everybody Loves The Sunshine".
An unforgettable live groove/beats moment really!

The good news is ArteLiveWeb also recorded this show, you can see it on the video streaming below , enjoy!

Projet éphémère monté par Robert Glasper (mon pianiste favori de la scène jazz/groove actuelle), ses inséparables comparses Chris Dave, Derrik Hodge et Casey Benjamin ainsi que le producteur hip-hop Chris Rock et le brillant vibraphoniste Stefon Harris, ce "Tribute To Roy Ayers" fut mon concert préféré de la semaine.
Une sorte de jam-session irréelle de presque 3h pendant laquelle ces musiciens de classe mondiale nous ont fait voyager dans l'univers groovy de Roy Ayers en passant par le hip-hop jazzy de Jay Dilla (nombreuses covers dont Stakes Is High, The Light, Fall In Love...).
La prestation à la batterie de Chris Dave fut proprement hallucinante d'intensité et de virtuosité tandis que les vocals interprétés au vocoder par Casey Benjamin ont contribué à créer une atmosphère totalement envoutante. Si on ajoute à ça les basslines profondes de Derrik Hodge puis les nappes de Rhodes distillées par Robert Glasper et les solos de vibraphone aériens de Stefon Harris cela donne une expérience unique. Sans aucun doute un des meilleurs concerts que j'ai vu ces dernières années. Juhez par vous-même gràce à l'enregistrement d'ArteLiveWeb disponible pour une période de temps limitée. 

Robert Glasper Trio & Bilal
Cité de la Musique - 12/09/2010
Robert Glasper, Derrick Hodge & Chris Dave
After showing their groove side on saturday night, Robert Glasper, Derrik Hodge and Chris Dave were back on stage with their jazz side for a sunday-afternoon set at the "Cité de la Musique"  with nu-soul singer Bilal as a guest. 
My english vocabulary is falling short of superlatives to describe this second remarkable performance from the trio, and notably the once-again surrealist drumming performance from Chris Dave, who to me currently is one of the very best jazz/groove drummer around. 
Robert Glasper & Bilal
As usual they came on stage with no clear-cut set-list and after a hilarious tchat (after having seen Robert live four times in the last couple of years, I wonder if  he may not also have a future in the stand-up comedy world as his sarcastic humour is just too much fun) they started playing and improvise a great deal on one of their track.
The only "pre-defined" moments of the show seemed to be the two jazz standards ("Little B Poem" and "Body and Soul") on which a sneezing Bilal tried to sing. Hopefully the crazy helped him out and fired up on all cylinders to give absolutely stunning jam-like versions of these two classics.
Robert Glasper
The rest of the set was more nu-jazz oriented with 15-mn long versions of some of their brilliant songs mixed up with some Jay Dilla themes. Bilal finally came back on stage on a better shape to beautifully conclude the afternoon with jazzy cuts of his current hit "All Matter" and of his famous Jay-Dilla-writen song "Reminisce".

These guys are an absolute must-see for any jazz/groove fan!



Après leur samedi soir mémorable en version "groove", le trio Robert Glasper, Derrik Hodge & Chris Dave a vite enfilé son costume "jazz" pour enchainer le lendemain avec une session en compagnie du chanteur nu-soul Bilal à la Cité de la Musique. 
Sans rien perdre en magie et virtuosité. 
Après une intro façon stan-up comedy pendant laquelle Robert Glasper a encore une fois fait mouche avec son humour sarcastique,  le trio a enchainé avec quelques une de ses superbes compositions jazz en multipliant changements de rythme, solos époustouflants et clins d'oeils à Jay Dilla en glissant par moments des thèmes du mythique producteur hip-hop. Chris Dave a une fois de plus bluffé tout le monde avec une prestation époustouflante à la batterie. Il est sans aucun doute un des tout meilleurs batteurs jazz/groove du moment. Technique, précision, finesse, énergie, les mots me manquent pour décrire son jeu enthousiasmant.
L'arrivée de Bilal sur scène pour interpréter deux standards jazz ("Little B's Poem" et "Body & Soul") ne restera à l'inverse pas dans les annales car le chanteur, bien enrhumé, n'était pas dans une grande forme. Heureusement le trio s'en est donné à coeur joie pour donner une nouvelle jeunesse à ses deux titres légendaires. Bilal assura tout de même deux jolies interprétations de son hit du moment "All Matter" ainsi que de son classique "Reminisce" pour clôturer le concert.

The Roots, The Last Poets, Living Colour & David Murray
Tongues On Fire, A Tribute To The Black Panthers 
Grande Halle de la Villette, 12/09/10

A very special artistic project dedicated to the memory and history of 70's Us black rights revolutionary movement "The Black Panthers" was scheduled for the closing of the festival.
David Murray
The show was set-up by free-jazz saxophonist David Murray, who composed the musical themes, with poems from Abiodun Oyewole and Umar Bin Hassan (members of the legendary politically-conscious hip-hop band The Last Poets), live contribution from members of The Roots (?uestlove, Blackthought & Ray Angry) and Living Colour (Corey Cover & Vernon Reid on guitar) plus visuals from Doctor L using original material from Black Panthers' former minister of culture Emory Douglas.

On rythmic backgrounds ranging from jazz-fusion, reggae, funk and afro vibes, the 2h-long show had us travel in time for a very interesting reflexion on this part of Us history and culture. The thought-provoking artworks from Emory Douglas were in fact my favorite part of the show with some drawings reminding me a bit of some of Fela Kuti's albums covers depicting violence, inequalities and power abuses.
Even though I appreciated very much the nice balance between Abiodun Oyewole and Umar Bin Hassan spoken-word flow and The Roots' Blackthought groovy hip-hop vocals, it was hard for me to really get into the music as the sound quality was rather poor in La Grande Halle, which is definitely not a proper concert room. 
I nevertheless was particularly moved by Umar Bin Hassan beautiful poem, declaimed on a sweet sax solo from David Murray, and reminiscing about one of the Black Panthers leader who particularly influenced him and who died during one of the numerous violent arrests conducted by the authorities at that time. I really wish I could see this ambitious project in London where they played in the great Barbican venue with a great sound quality.

Pour clôturer le festival un projet ambitieux autour de l'histoire et de l'influence du mouvement révolutionnaire noir-américain les "Black Panthers" était programmé dimanche soir à la Grande Halle de la Villette.
Le projet a été pensé et mis en place par le saxophoniste free-jazz David Murray qui a composé la musique, sur des textes et poèmes de Abiodun Oyewole and Umar Bin Hassan,deux des leaders du légendaire groupe spoken-word "The Last Poets", et la contribution musicale de membres éminents des The Roots (?uestlove, Blackthought & Roy Angry) et de Living Colour (Corey Cover & Vernon Reid on guitar). En prime des visuels marquants de Doctor L qui a utilisé en grande partie des oeuvres de l'ancien "ministre de la cuklture" du mouvement Black Panthers, Emory Douglas.
Sur des sons allant du jazz-fusion, au reggae, funk ou rythmiques afro, le collectif nous a fait voyager dans cette période essentielle de l'histoire contemporaine des Etats-Unis. 
Si j'ai été fasciné par l'univers artistique des dessins et montages d'Emory Douglas, j'avoue avoir eu du mal à rentrer totalement dans l'univers musical du collectif en raison de l'accoustique de faible qualité de la Grande Halle. Les veinards qui ont vu le projet à Londres ou il a été présenté dans la très belle salle du Barbican ont du beaucoup plus apprecié la qualité des compositons de David Murray. 
Je garderai néanmoins un souvenir ému du très joli poème déclamé par Umar Bin Hassan en hommage à l'un des leaders disparus des Black Panthers qui l'a beaucoup influencé, le tout sur un subtil et poignant riff de sax de David Murray.

Thanks to Vincent for most pictures illustrating this (long) article.
Merci à Vincent pour la majeure partie des photos illustrant cet article.

4 comments:

  1. No groove from Glasper Trio Experiment on sunday 12 show !!?? Hummmmm maybe not the standard groove born from bass and drums having sex. But definitly groove from syncoped drums, sleezy bass and crazy fat and funky keys !

    Anyway, thanks for pics & review

    FOR INFO
    - Saturday 11
    Uncomplete Set list
    ...
    ...
    Pete Rockin' + We Live in Brooklyn, baby
    Derrick Hodge solo + Third Eye
    Searching
    Red Black and Green
    Pete Rock few beats
    ...
    For Tisha (Roy Ayers wife who passed away in late 2009)
    The Light
    ...
    Everybody loves the sunshine feat Bilal
    Stakes Is High (feat Pete Rock)
    Fall in Love (Dilla Tribute) feat Bilal + Keep rising to the top (Keni Burke cover)
    Pete Rock outro

    - Sunday 12
    Glasper played grand piano and Rhodes stage piano, oh yeah...!

    As u can imagine, Chris Dave blew every parisians up and down and cornerly, also spiralmenté
    Bilal was amazing. Among the 4 songs he performed, there was Billie Holiday "Body & Soul". I am still on the top of the snowy mountain he created for us during the song. He also sharply sang "All Matters" (from Glasper last double LP). I did not remember his voice was so diverse and perfect. A true artist

    Uncomplete Track list

    Down Time (with bits of Dilla "Fall in Love")
    Little B's Poem feat. Bilal
    Body&Soul feat. Bilal
    Yes I'm Country(and that's o.k.) + 59 south (with 3 notes of John Coltrane"My Favorite Thing") + Butterfly (starting at 74.18mn...I screamed at 74.12mn ! AH ). There, we were all BLEW UP like only LOVE can do. Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
    All Matter feat. Bilal
    [Encore] Reminisce feat Bilal

    Cheers

    myspace.com/gildas12.htm

    ReplyDelete
  2. First track of Roy Ayers Tribute is "A tear to a smile"

    Cheers

    gildas

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Gildas for the tracklist, for the sunday 12 gig I did not mean "no groove" I just meant to explain that it was the jazz trio set-up compared to the "RG Experiment" set-up!

    ReplyDelete
  4. What you said about Roy Ayers' Tribute by the Robert Glasper Experiment is absolutely true, a night of improvisation and inspiration ... totally free ! A communion of free spirits animated by the same passion for music ... Really the best show I ever seen this year. very very beautiful and mind-blowing !!!!

    ReplyDelete