The future revival of jazz in France is built on house and hip-hop grooves

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SCENE REPORT

The future revival of jazz in France is built on house and hip-hop groovesBy Florent ServiaJuly 6, 2020

Paris has been a destination city for jazz since the early days of the genre: legends like Bud Powell and Kenny Clarke lived there, and greats like Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane found loyal supporters and an enthusiastic audience. Recently, however, the sound of jazz in France has taken a modern twist, with local jazz musicians incorporating genres such as hip-hop, neo-soul, broken beat and house music into their sound. In Paris, clubs like Le Baiser Salé give monthly residences to emerging artists, who will continue to perform in prestigious places like La Petite Halle.

“There is currently a good convergence between labels, clubs and festivals and a younger audience,” explains French trumpeter Antoine Berjeaut, whose album 2019, Cities in motion, was produced by Makaya McCraven. Fan of J Dilla and Madlib, he attributes the progressive approach of the local scene to jazz to similar developments occurring in other parts of the world. “Shabaka Hutchings was a role model for young musicians,” says Berjeaut. “We didn’t have this in Europe ten years ago. We had respect for the jazz greats, but we couldn’t really identify with them. This new British scene has broken this complex. There is a current path where young musicians feel more free to express themselves and incorporate all the music they like. ”

These new faces of the French jazz scene are not only made up of former curators like Vincent Tortiller and Tanguy Jouanjan, but also self-taught musicians (Emile Sornin), and musicians who started out as house and beat beat producers (Neue Grafik) and hip-hop beatmakers (Jeremy Talon). Labels like Menace Records and BMM Records specialize in albums that mix jazz with library music, hip-hop and house. “I guess we are all trying to mix the live music side with a more product side,” says BMM Records co-founder Louis Treffel. “It has become more natural for new generations of jazz musicians to be influenced by producers.”




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As much inspired by the highly textured songs of Son Lux as by the lyricism of the French saxophonist Guillaume Perret and the rehearsal of Steve Reich, the first EP by Bada-Bada treats experimentalism as sacred. The group consciously avoids the rhythms commonly associated with other genres. They sample the trumpet and saxophone and throw them upwards to make them sound like synths, building songs that work their way to trembling crescendos while leaving plenty of room for free improvisation.



Daïda is currently in the middle of a dubbed EP trilogy The Passion of the Scream, a good indication of the ambition of the group of young Vincent Tortiller. The French drummer likes his music to be epic: boiling techno rhythms, tumultuous trumpet blasts and lyrical energy where “solos are heard as part of the melody”. Tortiller quotes the 2015 album by Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah Stretch Music as a key influence; like the trumpeter of New Orleans, the young French drummer seeks to create a modern sound with particular attention paid to the production. Virtuoso guitarist Antonin Fresson completes the list, chaining song melodies along dense, multi-layered guitar lines. “For me,” says Tortiller, “the goal of jazz is to take universes and make them yours. And Christian Scott really does. It’s as tricky as possible and it really grooves! “



At the heart of Fungi is the desire of trumpeter Tanguy Jouanjan for “an improved jazz group with modern sounds”. This desire led Jouanjan to work with the Parisian producer and bass player Monomite, who worked in hip-hop (Jazzy Bazz, Nekfeu, Alpha Wann) and house (Beat X Changers, Vertv records), as well as trap, EDM, R&B and funk. We have to thank him for the diverse feel of Tender Thursday (the French title of John Steinbeck’s novel, Sweet Thursday), which oscillates between electric Miles and hip-hop grooves. “He destroyed everything,” enthuses Jouanjan. “We did it all via effect pedals, then via Roland Space Echo from Monomite.” The resulting sound is a glorious collision of old and new, which is mandatory listening for fans of future French jazz.



Underground Canopy was founded around the shared love of its members for J Dilla, Madlib, Knxwledge and MNDSGN: in fact, the group started by covering the work of these legends as a live band in the mid-10s. Given the way the collective discovered jazz through hip-hop, it’s no surprise that when it came time to record their own music, they recruited hip-hop producers from Jakarta Records Bluestaeb and S. Fidelity to reshape their jam sessions into “fully arranged”. and adult songs. The group also owes a debt to Alain Mion’s jazz-funk group, Cortex, for which they opened in 2017. All of these influences manifest in their music, which is built around laid-back grooves and elegant arrangements. strings reminiscent of Yussef Kamaal.



This duet of intense Parisian percussions and touches fuses the sound of melancholic library music from the 70s with hip-hop rhythms and a strong dose of psychedelia. Émile Sornin (Forever Pavot) and Cédric Laban (Forever Pavot, Isaac Delusion) have made a name for themselves on the French indie pop scene, winning tens of thousands of fans. For them, La Récré is a place where they can explore raw grooves and play with roaring delays and strongly reverberant touches. “We named our music” punk jazz “because we are a lot more messy and trashy in the way we compose than other jazz musicians,” they say. Witty samples also play a leading role in their work: “The year 2000” extracts a section of a program for French children from 1962, which imagines how the world will be in the year 2000. In the sample, a young girl says: “The year 2000 is unreal because I am afraid of aging. I will be 54 in the year 2000, and I do not expect to be. Progress will make our world even more inhuman. That’s why it scares me. ”



The main objective of NCY Milky Band is the groove. The group met while studying at a conservatory in Nancy, a city in eastern France, and focused their energies on learning the simple melody rather than building complex harmonies. Founder Louis Treffel also likes to add a little humor to their music – he thinks it gives it character – which explains the deliberately tacky synths of the 70s in “Vannier or Gainsbourg? »Songs on Our gurus are located where their musical heroes – Boards of Canada, Fania All-Stars, Dorothy Ashby and Serge Gainsbourg – intersect.



Neue Grafik is most often associated with the new London jazz scene, but he was actually born, raised and taught in Paris. He moved to South London to get closer to the city’s jazz scene, but while in Paris he established an excellent reputation as a house producer, winning accolades from Beat X Changers, Wolf Music and Rhythm Section. He then studied jazz at the Bill Evans Academy in Paris; Foulden Road, his latest LP, combines the sparkling sound of jazz piano with the sound of London dance late at night. Catchy melodies, nuanced arrangements, strong rhythm section – Neue Grafik tackles the essentials.



On this collaborative LP, result of the endowment of the French American Jazz Exchange, the French trumpeter Antoine Berjeaut and the Chicago drummer Makaya McCraven strike a good balance between free experimentation, raucous headbangers and the hard and tenacious rhythm. Recorded live in Paris, the album follows McCraven’s now famous approach to production; he uploaded a recording of the session to Ableton, and then began to remodel it. What was played on stage that night is completely transformed. In the spirit of collaboration, the group includes both French players (Julien Lourau on sax, Arnaud Roulin on synth, Guillaume Magne on guitar) as well as Americans (Junius Paul on bass, Matt Gold on guitar ).

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