A French songbook (the music)

A French songbook (Alzy Trio)It is with a wink and a nod that we included an English-language title in this very Frenchy album from the Alzy Trio. A hat tip to the Great American Songbook that is chock full of Broadway standards from Ellington and Gershwin, played by all jazz(wo)men worldwide. A tribute from the grand repertoire of French songs that have also been adopted by musicians everywhere.

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Click on songs titles below to listen to one-minute samples.

Download English booklet with images (16 pages pdf)

Chanson de Maxence (You must believe in spring)

Composer : Michel Legrand
Author : Jacques Demy
3’ 34’’ • 1967
Pascal Kober : bass
Thierry Rampillon : guitar (solo)
Christian Sanchez : guitar

Cécile, ma fille

Composer : Jacques Datin
Author : Claude Nougaro
4’ 03’’ • 1963
Pascal Kober : bass (solo)
Thierry Rampillon : guitar
Christian Sanchez : guitar (solo)
Invite Jean-Pierre Jackson : drums

Les pas

Composers : Claude Nougaro, Loïc Pontieux, Laurent Vernerey, Jean-Marie Ecay, Arnaud Dunoyer de Segonzac and Denis Benarrosh
Author : Claude Nougaro
3’ 03’’ • 1997
Pascal Kober : bass
Christian Sanchez : guitar
Invite Elsy Fleriag : vocal (solo)

Un été (Estate)

Composer : Bruno Martino
Author : Claude Nougaro
5’ 31’’ • 1960 et 1981
Pascal Kober : bass (solo)
Thierry Rampillon : guitar (solo)
Christian Sanchez : guitar
Invite Jean-Pierre Jackson : drums

La javanaise

Author-composer : Serge Gainsbourg
3’ 05’’ • 1962
Pascal Kober : bass, vocal
Thierry Rampillon : guitar (solo)
Christian Sanchez : guitar
Invite Tamanga Bévis : vocal

Chanson des jumelles

Composer : Michel Legrand
Author : Jacques Demy
2’ 50’’ • 1967
Pascal Kober : bass
Thierry Rampillon : guitar (solo)
Christian Sanchez : guitar

Que reste-t-il de nos amours (I wish you love)

Composers : Léon Chauliac and Charles Trenet
Author : Charles Trenet
3’ 38’’ • 1942
Pascal Kober : bass
Thierry Rampillon : guitar
Invite Tamanga Bévis : vocal

Les feuilles mortes (Autumn leaves)

Composer : Joseph Kosma
Author : Jacques Prévert
2’ 51’’ • 1946
Pascal Kober : bass (solo)
Thierry Rampillon : guitar
Christian Sanchez : guitar
Invite Jean-Pierre Jackson : drums

Rimes (Il camino)

Composer : Aldo Romano
Author : Claude Nougaro
2’ 48’’ • 1979 et 1981
Pascal Kober : bass
Christian Sanchez : guitar
Invite Tamanga Bévis : vocal

Tu verras (O que será a flor de terra)

Composer : Chico Buarque de Hollanda
Author : Claude Nougaro
3’ 21’’ • 1976 et 1978
Pascal Kober : bass
Thierry Rampillon : guitar (solo)
Christian Sanchez : guitar
Invite Elsy Fleriag : vocal

Billie Jean

Author-composer : Michael Jackson
3’ 25’’ • 1982
Pascal Kober : bass
Thierry Rampillon : guitar (solo)
Christian Sanchez : guitar
Invite Jean-Pierre Jackson : drums

Pascal Kober plays a Fender BG-29 acoustic fretless bass (Hartke KickBack 12 amp and Phil Jones Bass Cub BG-100 amp), except on Les pas (fretted custom bass). Thierry Rampillon plays a Godin Multiac ACS-SA and a Godin 5th Avenue CW Kingpin II acoustic guitars (AER Compact 60 amp). Christian Sanchez plays a Godin Multiac Nylon Duet acoustic guitar (AER Compact 60 amp). The whole without any special effect. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Gil Lachenal at Swim Again studio, on November 2010, April, May and June 2011. Graphic art design : Michka Piera. English translations : Cary Bartsch.

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A French songbook (quotes)

Jóse Luis Ajzenmesser, journalist, radio program La Guagua, broadcast on www.fmurquiza.com, Buenos Aires (Argentina) : «  Your CD is wonderful. The choice of the tracks and the concept are excellent. And your idea of curiosity, as a form of creativity in the rough is great. Thank you for the music ! »

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, pianist : “Due to the tender subtlety of their harmonies, I love the most beautiful bossa novas just as much as certain mazurkas by Chopin. The music produces a Pavlovian effect, plunging me immediately into an attitude of blissful contemplation, somewhat sad, but also with a feeling of pure happiness. The magnificent music of Chico Buarque, the inspired lyrics of Tu verras and the excellent arrangement by the Alzy Trio produce all the above emotions and warm my heart.”

Pierre Bigorgne, editor-in-chief, Grands Reportages magazine : “The arrangement of Billie Jean, an absolute cult song and a UFO in this French songbook, shows once again that rules are made to be broken. What would become of our liberty if that were not the case  ? What would become of creativity if there were no rule breakers  ? What would become of the epicurean Alzy Trio if it did not break away from its basic genre, bossa nova, in order better to seduce and surprise us  ? What could be more true to jazz than this “alzy” cover of a hit written by the king of pop. The Alzy guitars play exciting variations of the hypnotic bass guitar lick. One of the songs on this album asks what remains of our loves. The answer is Billie Jean, of course.

Jean-Paul Boutellier, Jazz à Vienne festival : “For me, I wish you love evokes the difference between melancholy and nostalgia. It is of course the second that best describes the subject here, which looks back over a happy past whose memories remain a moment of joy. The “stolen kisses” are the evanescent little secrets that inspired François Truffaut.

Michèle Caron, radio journalist, France Bleu : “What a joy to rediscover the lyrics of Tu verras, carried by a woman’s voice that is spellbinding, suave and dynamic, and accompanied by heartfelt music. A hymn to love that makes me want to rediscover the repertoire of that moving wordsmith who had rhythm in the blood. No one is the same after hearing this song.

Sheyla Costa, singer : “I like Un eté (Estate) that reminds me of my native Brazil. The soft harmonies and the bossa nova swing mixed into the jazz are pleasing. The vibrations are good and the energy is there. A nice interpretation of Nougaro.”

Marie-Hélène Fraïssé, radio journalist, France Culture : “When Cécile, ma fille was written, Claude Nougaro was just beginning his career. Dark, obstinate and… tender, as shown by the lyrics of this song, a hard-boiled guy who falls head over heels in love with a baby girl. His baby girl. Ever since, Claude has always been with us. He had blues, jazz and poetry in his blood. He was like a big brother, rebel and protector. I never pass in front of his brick house in Paris without my heart skipping a beat. Thank you, the Alzy Trio, for helping to keep the legend of this magnificent artist alive.”

Roberta Gambarini, jazz singer, USA : “I was able to hear a little of your concert. It sounded really great and Elsy Fleriag, the singer was really excellent.”

Benjamin Goldenstein, artistic director, Frémeaux & Associés (about I wish you love) : “Are desperate songs (the most beautiful according to some) all that remain of our loves  ? Or is there redemption through poetry which, when melded with the melodies that bare our hearts, cultivates from the ruins the essence of that which will remain the vital chord of all feeling, for entire generations of lovers and music lovers  ?

Phil Jones, USA : « Music is excellent and sound quality is first class. If you don’t mind, I will use your CD as one of our demonstration CDs to show off the sound quality of our speakers. By the way the bass sounds so acoustic, I can’t hear the amp and that’s a good thing ! »

Robert Latxague, journalist, Jazz Magazine : “The melody of Cécile, ma fille is everything, elegantly simple. Emotion just barely contained, true feeling expressed along the trails of an inner voyage, a desire, a moment in life. The lyrics by Nougaro exude the many fragrances of a young woman coming into being. Of course, his words and his notes echoed my own desires far beyond any rhyme or reason. No doubt because the Nougaro of that time, still a young man, stood, to my open eyes and ears, as a son of the south, where they play rugby, and as a child born of jazz, java and opera.

Jean-Christophe Martin, radio journalist, France Info : “It has been a while that Autumn leaves have been falling, twirling, dying and resuscitating, autumn leaves yet still so green. Blues for the fertile sadness of autumn, then the rite of spring and the joy, still there, for the music. A leaf falls, a few notes of music and an entire universe springs up, always the same, never the same. This time, it is the Alzy Trio that interprets this classic jazz tune for our greater pleasure.

Sandrine Mercier, radio journalist, France Inter (about Chanson des jumelles) : “The trade winds carried the twin sisters from the movie to South America. What were their names again  ? I have forgotten them, but not the tune, so heady and exuberant, composed by Michel Legrand. The two were so frivolous, mischievous and such a pain. Jacques Demy chose two sisters, Françoise Dorléac and Catherine Deneuve. A few years before, the first had starred with Belmondo in L’homme de Rio, in Brazil, and the second, later, with Yves Montand in Le Sauvage, on an island in Venezuela. And they were still so frivolous, mischievous and such a pain. It almost seems that the girls from Rochefort, along the Atlantic coast of France, had already set their sights on the South-American rhythms so dear to the Alzy Trio.”

Gérard Rouy, journalist : “I am particularly attracted by the music of Michel Legrand, represented by two songs in this French songbook. He is the only composer, with Joseph Kosma and Charles Trenet (and a few others) to have made a permanent stamp on the international repertoire of standards and evergreens, from which jazzmen looking for melodies have long drawn their inspiration.”

Yves Sportis, editor-in-chief, Jazz Hot magazine : “All these melodies are the background music of my life. Some of them since my birth. But I owe my first name to Yves Montand, the permanent “guest” at home. So I have a special spot in my heart for Autumn leaves, the song of my parents. Its nostalgia has always been there to envelop me like a spell of loyalty to friends, to ideas. And also like a promise of sadness when losing one of them. So, Bonjour tristesse.”

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A French songbook (the booklet)

French chanson(g)s

A French songbook (Alzy Trio)« He must love me so much to imagine me like that ! », exclaimed Catherine Deneuve, one of the demoiselles de Rochefort in the film by Jacques Demy, on discovering her portrait done by Maxence, a young sailor who had never seen her. There is not a jazz club in the world where the famous Chanson de Maxence is not standard fare, though perhaps under its English title, You must believe in spring, later interpreted by pianist Bill Evans. But who in fact composed such a catchy tune ? Michel Legrand, of course. And the same goes for the Chanson des jumelles for which we were inspired by a new, more incisive arrangement put together by French singer song-writer Essaï.

There are many other French chansons that have become well known around the world. For example, Les feuilles mortes, whose authors Kosma and Prévert never imagined that, from Venise to Java, the song would become a classic, a jam session favourite wherever jazz is played, under the title Autumn leaves. Another is Que reste-t-il de nos amours ? In response to this question by Charles Trenet, jazz musicians everywhere reply I wish you love

And how Claude Nougaro loved his little Cécile. The melody of this beautiful ballad, accompanied by the brushes of Jean-Pierre Jackson, our invited drummer, is instantly recognised by one and all. Just like the Pas, a swaying bossa nova in which Elsy Fleriag’s voice instils a Creole flavour that takes us immediately to her native Martinique and to the Brazil loved by Claude. Need anything be said about Rimes, composed by Aldo Romano using a curious, five-beat rhythm quite unusual for our western ears ?

It is therefore with a wink and a nod that we included an English-language title in this very Frenchy album from the Alzy Trio. A hat tip to the Great American Songbook that is chock full of Broadway standards from Ellington and Gershwin, played by all jazz(wo)men worldwide. A tribute from the grand repertoire of French songs that have also been adopted by musicians everywhere.

Un été stands out as well because it was composed by the Italian pianist Bruno Martino. In it, Claude Nougaro tells us a tender child’s story. He had so hoped to see « jazz and java as friends, that should be possible ». Unfortunately, Nougaro and Gainsbourg never recorded anything together, but does anyone doubt that La javanaise written by Serge could one day have brought them together in order to « give my hands to java and place them in the small of her back ». It is now a duo that I sing with our guest, Tamanga Bévis, backed by a guitar solo by Thierry and a wonderful harmony by Christian. A great piece of music that also benefited from the arranging talents of Quebecoise singer Térez Montcalm and guitarist Yann Viet, who inspired our version. Finally, Tu verras, composed by Chico Buarque from Brazil, is the last piece on the CD and leaves us with a wonderful promise of « inventing love for you from the depths of my arms, until the birth of a new morning ».

But that will be for another day…

Pascal Kober

Download English booklet with images (16 pages pdf)

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