along the 400 pages of The Wise One, Nicolas Fily (photo DR), a
passionate, examines and dissects, magnifying glass in hand, the quest
mystique of the saxophonist / composer who has turned jazz upside down
sixty years. For a long time to come. Witness the craze
shared last year around an original studio session from 1963.
The author sifts through the path of the sacred monster, since
learning, up to the apotheosis of style, through
decisive meetings (Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Thelonius
Monk). We chose the book as a favorite of the period
Strennas. Exploration by leaps and bounds, without tripping, in a
accessible language, of the American who disappeared in 1965, a pioneer without
equal of the jazz planet, will have convinced us. The Wise One
wins, together with Keith Jarrett of
Jean-Pierre Jackson, the first recipient of the 2020 Book Prize,
awarded in late January byJazz Academy.
How did you work?
documented myself considerably: magazines, books,
interviews … to get an idea of what had already been
says and writes on both sides of the Atlantic about Coltrane.
I then got all of his vinyl discography
original, this to find the sound as it came to the ears
listeners of the time. Cover notes represented
an invaluable source of information. Then I forced myself to
a certain immersion discipline: I have advanced
chronologically in the discography, writing as you go
my feeling, replacing the music each time in a
broader historical and social context. I have read a lot of
“Black” literature (W.E.B. Dubois, James Baldwin,
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Kenneth Clark, Langston Hughes, LeRoi Jones …),
as well as more general articles and books on the history of
United States. All in close collaboration with the team of
publisher The Word and the Rest.
resource did you favor in writing?
I can't hide the love I have for the subject. However,
I tried to stay as objective as possible. So i don't have
privileged no resources in particular. I read the books
Hugues Panassié, for example, or English Philip Larkin. of the
authors who were not tender with the avant-garde of jazz,
all the more with John Coltrane … I have read other general works
on the avant-garde of jazz written by journalists who
worked as close as possible to the musicians (Valerie Wilmer). I have
tried to stick to the factual. While giving free rein to my
imagination and my own interpretation.
major work did you lean on?
I had to quote one, I would retain the colossal work of Yasuhiro
Fujioka. This resumes Coltrane's timetable from 1945 to
his death. This is the keystone of the book. Biographies
English speakers – Lewis Porter (for the technical aspect in particular), J.C.
Thomas (for testimonials and anecdotes), or Eric Nisenson – told me
inspired. In France, the exciting Jazz Supreme from Raphaël
Imbert, the testimonies collected by Frank Médioni, or The case
Coltrane by Alain Gerber. Finally, the more general works:
Jacques Ponzio's books (Thelonious Monk)
Autobiography from Miles Davis, the history of the label Impulse!
by Ashley Kahn …
the choice of title, The Wise One?
particularly the composition of Coltrane Wise One. All there
is wonderful. I joined it on Tea. Indeed, “wise”
which can be translated by “wise” (in the sense of informed or
scholar) seems to me the epithet that sticks to both man and
was Coltrane, in a few words?
a fundamentally good man, a father, a loving husband.
Coltrane was a black man in a society where this color
was not welcome. Coltrane was an exceptional musician,
qualities forged with sweat from the forehead, through hard work and
abnegation. Coltrane was a curious man, open to the
world: he fed on cultures from around the world,
Africa fantasized about Asia. Coltrane was a mystic, at
noblest sense of the term, far from any religious enclave, he
the deep knowledge of religions. Coltrane admitted he was keen
of science, numerology, astrology … and turns out to be a master
saxophone: he revolutionized the practice. Coltrane, already
in his lifetime was a role model for a generation of musicians.
Even today, who in jazz boasts such an influence?
How? 'Or' What
do you situate him among the jazz geniuses?
instrument generates its icon. Charlie Parker on alto sax;
Thelonious Monk on the piano; Miles Davis on trumpet;
Charles Mingus on double bass; Max Roach on drums …
It becomes complicated to locate Coltrane in relation to these giants.
Obviously, however: it represents the equivalent of these
last for the tenor sax. If all these musicians enter the
legend, they also owe it to their personality. Parker the
“Cameo” – Monk the “dancing madman” – Miles the
“Show-off” – Mingus “the rebel” – Roach the
“Claiming” … Coltrane joined the confederation, with a
unique, luminous personality, moreover subtle.
constantly questioning yourself. This can be seen in the
upward trajectory of his career. He wrote music. The
composer of genius had the inspiration, the creativity, the desire
to shake up the established order. He was eating elements
traits characterize the exceptional saxophonist?
a workaholic. Then he gave a lot
of importance to the technical elements of the instrument (mouthpiece, reed,
ligation). He left nothing to chance. He had assimilated
breathing techniques that allowed sequences
What turning point marks the giant's career?
there is the first meeting with Miles in 1955 which is the
springboard, but the pivotal year remains 1957. First, this is where
that he is done with his addiction to drugs and alcohol which
until then inhibited it. We notice the change between
records before and after his detoxification.
As happiness never comes alone, in the process, this same
year 1957, he joined the quartet of Thelonious Monk. Certainly for
only half a year. The flash passage with the pianist
will be enough to put New York at its feet.
How? 'Or' What
qualify its unique path?
there are some expressions entered in everyday language which
define the Coltrane sound. The Sheets of Sounds for example
that he “invented” in the second half of the years
fifty. To put it simply, these are arpeggio clusters
ultra-rhythmic, which the ear perceives in one piece. The Coltrane
Changes is another. This is the way
Coltrane frees himself from tonal music,
playing on modulations – with new passages of a
tone to another. The piece Giant Steps is there
perfect illustration. Coltrane has always shown
special affection for minor chords, the tendency to
acute. Finally it gives off an indescribable warmth during exercise
ballads. To qualify
its way in a few words turns to the challenge: this one was without
stops moving. She had to adapt to different aesthetics
he borrowed: from hard-bop to Blue train, free jazz on
more airtight at the end of his life, through modal jazz,
from which his greatest masterpieces will be born (My favorite
today I’m able to recognize Coltrane (or
let surprise by those who copy it) at the first listen.
What is that
who provokes this quest for the absolute?
search for Its Universal, in his words. To the point of view
musical, Coltrane will always try to go as far as possible from
instrument limits and its own physical limits. He stays
listens to what is going on around him and often recognizes
the influence of other musicians who will push him to go ahead.
Let us quote the saxophonist of Sun Ra, John Gilmore, who inspired to
Coltrane his legendary solo at Vanguard Village, Chasin ’the Trane.
But it's the esoteric aspect that will prevail, when Coltrane
plunges body and soul into free at the end of his life. The quest for
the absolute becomes mystical. It is particularly inspired by the OM of the
Hindu tradition, which would translate all the sounds into one syllable
humans. There is a form of inaccessible utopia there. Rest,
Coltrane died before reaching the end of the quest. However,
he was insatiable: he would never have reached his absolute,
that I am convinced.
simple to understand his work?
if we start at the right place. I do not recommend to the neophyte
to attack with Ascension for example, since it exists
quantity of very accessible discs like Blue Train; Coltrane
plays the Blues; Soultrane;
Ballads. The best advice: move forward at the same time
than him over the years. Understand the changes at work
from one disc to another, to better appreciate the next, and so
Which musicians influence him?
he quoted Johnny Hodges, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, and Charlie
Parker. Later Dexter Gordon or Sonny Stitt. In se
professionalizing, the leaders will influence it: Dizzy Gillespie,
Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk … When mature, he will quote
often Sonny Rollins or John Gilmore. At the end of his life he
will seek a new source of inspiration from the young
keep. Pharoah Sanders will deeply evolve music and
Coltrane group from 1965. Albert Ayler, too. Beyond
of saxophonists, Coltrane said he was influenced by the music of
sitarist Ravi Shankar, or harpist Carlos Salzedo.
what is his presence up to date?
pianist Martial Solal testified that in the competition he was in
juror, one in two apprentice musicians would bite their teeth Giant
Steps, proof of the exemplary expertise that the piece requires
composed 60 years ago! Let's observe this: if Coltrane does
the news is that he was also a great composer:
think about Naima. From the moment he finds his
voice / channel – at the end of the 1950s – the recordings became
timeless. Just ask any saxophonist;
one in two – at least – will answer that its major influence
is called Coltrane. Current big names in jazz like Kamasi
Washington (see documentary Chasing Trane) or Shabaka
Hutchings, praising Coltrane.
are the current generations looking for in his music?
to listen to hip hop without having heard of Nas or Wu Tang
Clan. Or rock without knowing who Pink Floyd or the Stones were.
Similarly, how to discover jazz without having at least listened to a
times John Coltrane. The giant has become a must, a
quest for authenticity for those who want to understand the essence of
collected by Bruno Pfeiffer
The Wise One, Nicolas Fily (Editions Le Mot et le Reste)
(Abbey Lincoln and Philippe Méziat in Villeneuve-sur-Lot / Photo DR Philippe Méziat collection)
History / Stories
Jazz in the Southwest (Editions
Confluence). I knew the author,
Méziat, petulant sexagenarian, author of chronicles
claivoyantes, journalist, writer on current jazz at Citizen
Jazz. Appreciated for the friendly, enriching and
visionary about festivals. I didn't know he covered jazz
in everyday life South West; that – for several decades
– Jazz Magazine waited every month for his reports;
finally that he had organized festivals (notably the Bordeaux
With Emmanuelle Debur, the duo writes
a complete panorama (from New Orleans to New
Aquitaine, 1859-2019) of jazz and blues in one of the most
most prolific in France. From Duke Ellington to Michel Portal,
via (in particular) Miles Davis, Boris Vian, Lionel Hampton,
Gil Evans, Bernard Lubat and Carla Bley, abound anecdotes, photos,
posters, facsimiles, debates, school disputes (sometimes
Homer). We see John Lee Hooker, Sheryl Crow, Jimmy
Dawkins, Magic Slim, with Jacques Morgantini. The great friend
bluesmen left us this winter. Without him, the blues would not have
recorded the same impact in Europe. Accurate book,
beneficial, benevolent, roughly well documented.
WRITING). A fiction based on real facts. We see Ester
Karnofsky, whose author, Michèle Hayat, soberly brushes the
sihouette, take under his wing in New Orleans, the little
Louis Armstrong, 7 years old. Told under the angle of the point of
internal third-person view, the story turns, gripping,
plausible. Ester Karnofsky, deprived of two sons (one deceased
– the other emigrated to Palestine) transposes maternal love – and
his educational business – on Satchmo
(nickname, already, of Louis). 200 pages read without accident: indeed,
the book never falls into the trap of describing the process
interior of the characters. The springs which determine the acts
are barely sketched. Yet the characters live and
impose themselves (especially Louis). First book completed.
Jean-Pierre Jackson (ACTES SUD, 214 pages), deserves the first
accessit of the Book Prize 2020 awarded at the end of January by the Academy
Jazz. For decades, the pianist raised the halls,
enchanted the planet, reigned over jazz. There was no
affordable biography which so synthetically flew over the
complex trajectory of the genius improviser. The text, clear,
sweat joy, veneration, aspiration for beauty: we believe
hear Bach. Or for those who already know him:
The pianist goes on a search in the first piece, then
find. Predictable scenario: we will never get tired of it.
Jean-Pierre Leloir's photographic sessions
(Editions Glénat – Text: Jean-Michel Boissier). Jean Pierre
Leloir finds in the dream singer a dream model, that,
upon Ella's arrival in France in the 1950s.
valley. Leloir does not hesitate to strafe the Diva. We are looking forward to
result: 250 shots most often unpublished! Magic.
(At the heart of a Boss concert),
by Antonio Pereira (Editions Bookelis / Distribution Hachette). The boss,
it's Bruce Springsteen. The rocker, because he gets high on stage
and share his story, speak to the depths of beings. John
Harkness will not contradict the sequence. Boss concert brings back
the Scotsman, passing through Paris, at the night that deeply changed
completes its existence. A dizzying dance with emotions and
WINTER CONCERTS (and SPRING 2020)
The recital of double bass player Pauline Dupuy who sings Georges
Brassens with a guitar + brass quartet. Regenerating as a devil, like
fresh honey in the morning coffee. It's new to the genre,
fragile, delicious, moving, strong: we predict the reverse of
bad reputation with Mademoiselle's disturbing interpretations
has just awarded him the 2020 European Jazz Prize in mid-January.
Deserved! The artist will perform in the cozy little room of the 19th century, in
a few meters from the BUTTES-CHAUMONT Metro station, with the jazz violinist
current inspired Théo Ceccaldi. We are already licking our ears, because we
expects a lot from the complicity, energy – and lyricism – of
With tenor saxophonist Olivier Temime – still in flames – the
drummer Steve Williams – disciple of Billy Hart – and bassist Samuel
Hubert – wish lyric – the pianist pays an expected tribute to the
disc music Glass Bead Games of
saxophonist Clifford Jordan. The legendary record of 1974 contains
magnificent compositions by Cliff Jordan, Cedar Walton, Bill Lee, Sam
Jones, Stanley Cowell.
(Paris 19th). Trombonist's projects have held the upper hand since
several years, from his group Un Poco Loco, a tribute to Parker
– CD (Ornithology) to appear late
February on the UMlaut Records label – won me over. With Geoffrey Gesser
(saxophones, arrangements, clarinet) and Sébastien Beliah
(23) at the Alhambra in Paris (10th) on March 1. The talented
electric and country blues guitarist debuted in the United States
tour of seventy dates (Europe, Australia, Japan). He plays
the solo album Eldorado
(Fantasy Records / Universal Music), produced by Dan Auerbach (The Black
Keys): twelve hot songs, recorded in Nashville. Get out
Fugitive), end of February. We were lifted by the captivating music of the
CD (and seen the photos of Nicolas Bruant), in June, live in Berlin
(Jazzdor). With a high-end quartet: Philippe Mouratoglou
(guitars), Sébastien Boisseau (double bass), Christophe Marguet
(drums). Guest art director: Philippe Ochem. Liner Notes:
(Paris). Canadian pianist's compositions enliven a trio
fusional (Nicolas Bédard (double bass) – Dominic Cloutier (drums).
My discovery of the new school year.
scheduled for February 21. The pianist hosts a monthly residency of
January to June at the “Sun”, as the regulars call it. This time,
Sylvain Romano (double bass) and Tony Rabeson (drums), will accompany
the pianist. On the CD, by The Cane of Jeanne (Brassens) to What will be, Passing by Cyclic episode (Sam Rivers), the improv will play with tunes that have taken their place in the iconoclastic memories of the artists.
from Montpellier, as part of a vast tour in La Francophonie,
started last summer. The sextet performs known songs,
other new ones, in a boiling scene, filled with
freshness, all with the emotional blessing of Nicole Bertolt
(Artist's heritage director): “These people have Vian in their Skull and I advise you to Don't Die without having seen their show even if you are Snob“. CD – Vian Standing (Jacques Canetti Productions § DSLZ / Distribution Because). Sensuous versions of Don't marry girls and of Watt Street.
The artist will pay tribute to the great voices that marked his
inspiration. Emotion, vocal art – and spectacle – guaranteed! Album (alterations : Membran / Sony label) scheduled for mid-February.
(La CAD / Label Vibrant / L’Autre.Distribution), to be released in late January. Their
unspeakable and extremely rich program will shake up the 37th Festival that evening
from Seine-Saint-Denis. Many dates this year, including Jazzdor
(Strasbourg), October 2. Imposes itself in a world that is improvised.
Distribution). Every concert, every record, every phrase, every
noise of the drummer-phenomenon is an event. With Yann Loustalot
(trumpet); Hélène Labarrière (double bass); Julien Touery (piano).
(Pascal Paco Guegan : photo Solène Maillet)
(Les Lilas) for his first solo disc. The bluesman / rocker, at
the origin of the Blues Power Band, spoiled us with an electric jewel.
Super-discovery! The volcanic solos of Paco Duke: Only Dreams Come True
(distributed by Inouie), transport us, and not just a little! The
best in the French blues-rock genre since Fred Chapellier. The
slide virtuoso (in particular), will also perform on January 30 at The Black Ball (Paris 18th – Metro ANTWERP).
that with partners at the top: Gregory Privat (piano) – Arnaud
Dolmen (drums) – Chris Jennings (double bass) – Manu Codjia (guitar,
on 5 pieces). I take Linx's foot in 13 songs out of 13. One
appetite for compositions which brings good luck to the work. We welcome the return
to the successful sources of the album, one of his best.
The greatest living female figure in French song, with
his orchestra. His concerts are always thrilling. This time at the foot of
Lighthouse of the Whales, a place to measure (photo Stéphane de Bourgies)