Tag Archives: flute

Artist Profiles: Kevin Locke

Kevin Locke

It is incredible to see the beauty of the people on this earth the vast richness of humankind. All people have the same impulses spirits and goals.”- Kevin Locke

Considered the world’s pre-eminent Lakota traditional-style flute player and hoop dancer Tokeya Inajin (Kevin Locke) was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 199. His life’s work is both a bridge and a balance of the traditional and the modern. He is a recognized authority on his native culture tradition and language and has a Master’s of Arts degree from the University of South Dakota in Educational Administration.

A popular lecturer and storyteller working to ensure his cultural heritage survives and prospers. Locke has traveled to 45 countries from Canada to China from Australia to Africa to Europe sharing his vision of balance joy and diversity through music and dance. As he explains “through my music and dance I wish to give voice to the beauty of the land and to help define the role of the human sprit in relationship to the immensity of this infinite hoop of life.” His belief in the unity of humankind is reflected in his dancing. Kevin uses 28 hoops to tell a story depicting such things as flowers butterflies stars the sun and an eagle. The hoops represent unity while the colors of the hoops -black red yellow and white – represent the four directions four seasons four winds and the four races of humankind. Towards the end of the dance all 28 hoops are interlocked in a spherical shape as fragile as the balance he works for in human affairs.

Locke is both an artist and educator. As a world citizen striving to forge bonds of harmony his contributions to both professions are unique.

Kevin Locke is a member of the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota.

Discography:

Flash of the Mirror

Dream Catcher (Earthbeat 1993)

Keepers of the Dream (Earthbeat 1995)

Love Songs of the Lakota (1995)

Open Circle (Makoche Records 1996)

First Flute (Makoche Records 1999)

Midnight Strong Heart (Red Feather 2003)

Earth Gift (2008)

Wind of the North (Red Feather 2008)

Preserving the Heritage Insights & Songs (2011)

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Artist Profiles: Keith Bear

Keith Bear

Keith Bear’s name in the Nu E’ta (Mandan) language is O’Mashi! Ryu Ta. It means Northern Lights or He Makes the Sky Burn with Great Flame. A self-taught flute player Bear has been performing since 1986. His critically acclaimed performances include traditional storytelling and the sacred Buffalo Dance ceremony which only honored tribal members may perform.

According to Keith “The Nu E’ta people have had flutes for hundreds of years using the wind birds and water from the Big and Little Missouri Rivers for accompaniment.” His first recording Echoes of the Upper Missouri reflects Keith’s desire to take each listener on a journey back to the bottom lands as in times passed. In fact the natural sounds heard on this release were recorded on location in the ancestral lands of the Mandan-Hidatsa people.

Keith’s accomplishments as a flute player and performer include extensive performances at schools conventions and state and national parks. During the summer of 1995 Keith made his professional acting debut in the feature film “Dakota Sunrise”. In July Keith performed on QVC’s Home Shopping Network and sold over 2 copies of Echoes of the Upper Missouri in less than 5 minutes.

Born and educated in North Dakota, Bear lives on the Fort Berthold Reservation and is the father of four children. He volunteers to help children on the Fort Berthold Reservation. When he’s not performing he enjoys beading quilling and making flutes

Discography:

Echoes of the Upper Missouri (Makoche Records, 1996)

Earthlodge (Makoche Records, 2000)

Morning Star Whispered (Makoche Records, 2007)

website: http://keithbear.net

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Artist Profiles: Joseph Firecrow

Joseph Firecrow

Joseph Firecrow’s musical journey began as a child. “Drums were a regular part of our lives. In the summer were the war dances now called powwows. As kids we would imitate the drummers on my mother’s galvanized washtub.”

The very first time I heard the flute I was a young boy living on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation located in Southeastern Montana. Grover Wolfvoice was the fluteman playing this wonderful music.”

The music was beautiful to my ears yet it scared me. There was much poverty and depression at that time. The sound of the flute touched my heart where there was much pain and uncertainty. Through all of the hardships of reservation life the beauty and wonder of our homeland beckoned to me.”

Born in Montana and raised on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation until he was nine years old Joseph attended public school and a Catholic school before being placed with a foster family in Seattle as part of the Mormon Indian Placement program. He joined them in their Mormon worship and attended Brigham Young University in Provo Utah as was expected of him.

I was starting to forget my Cheyenne Language and heritage. I needed to find out who I really was but I also had a lot of opportunities given to me and I wanted to take advantage of them.”

Just when it appeared he might forsake his Native American ancestry, two events happened that lead Joseph back to his people. Joseph reconnected to his heritage through music while he was in college and he read the book Cheyenne Memories by John Stands. “It was pivotal in my life in teaching me about the Creator and how we are tied to the land and animals.”

After three-and-a-half years of college education he returned to his reservation where it took a number of years to be totally accepted. “When I first went home, I sat in with my uncle’s drum group and there were certain members who said ‘̶What are you doing here? Are you trying to be an Indian?’”

Despite the initial adversity, Fire Crow re-integrated into his tribe and became a respected fluteman who was frequently called upon to perform at various community events such as weddings and funerals. He also shares his music and tribal history through lectures and workshops which include lessons in flutemaking.

Joseph Firecrow

The Northern Cheyenne to this day are still very much a traditional and ceremonial people. These things give us our identity. The wooden flute is a tradition that is passed on from one generation to the next. Through our oral history stories legends ceremonies societies and songs our culture is maintained. The flute is kept in the same manner. The legend of how the flute came to the people the songs that are called wolf-songs and the construction of the flute are all kept strong and vibrant.”

In 1992 Fire Crow recorded the album The Mist. Two years later he released a second self-produced recording Rising Bird. These recordings were sold only at concerts.

In April of 1996 his self-titled release Fire Crow was one of the first recordings to be launched nationally on the Makoche label and was one of the label’s best sellers.

Fire Crow’s follow-up album Cheyenne Nation is a soulful mixture of traditional flute and contemporary instrumentation promoting the unity of the Cheyenne people.

In 1995 Fire Crow’s songs “Creator’s Prayer” and “Wind in My Mind” were selected to open and close the best selling album Tribal Winds: Music from Native American Flutes on the Earthbeat label. Ken Burns also chose some of Fire Crow’s music to be included on the soundtrack for his documentary “Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery.”

Fire Crow is included on Earthbeat’s Tribal Voices and Tribal Waters compilations as well as being a major contributor to several European releases including Shaman Circles of Life and Medicine Power on the German label Sattva.

Joseph has won numerous Native American Music Awards (NAMA).

Discography:

The Mist (1992)
Rising Bird (1994)
Fire Crow (Makoché Music, 1996)
Cheyenne Nation (2000)
Legend of the Warrior (2003)
Red Beads (Makoché Music, 2005)
Face the Music (2009)
Night Walk (2012)

http://www.josephfirecrow.com

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Artist Profiles: Jonas Simonson

Jonas Simonson – Photo by Kristin Lidell

Jonas Simonson has a unique and profoundly personal approach to playing the flutes along with the bass saxophone. He began with classical training but converted to Swedish Folk Music and hasn’t been the same since.

His ornamented and cadence-rich style can be heard with the group Bask a trio with Sten Kallman and Hans Kennermark and in recordings with the bands Den Fule and Groupa.

Jonas Simonson has also worked with SÃ¥ngensemblen Amanda and Kapell Frisell. Also he has performed baroque music with Utomjordiska Theatre in Gothenburg. Jonas Simonson trained at the College of Music in Gothenburg.

Discography:

Quake, with Den Fule

Bäsk, with Bäsk (Xource/MNW XOUCD 124 in Sweden NorthSide NSD 636 in USA 1999)

Slokt, with Bäsk (Xource/MNW XOUCD 136 2002)

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Artist Profiles: Grey Larsen

Grey Larsen

Grey Larsen discovered Irish music in the early 1970’s and then embarked on a passionate and devoted journey that continues to this day. In the ensuing decades he has become one of the United States’most highly regarded flute players. His accomplishments in the field and compositions in the tradition are equally respected by musicians in Ireland, the United States, and across the globe. He has written a comprehensive book series on the art of Irish flute and tin whistle playing for Mel Bay Publications exploring both techniques and philosophies of playing and presenting his own new notation system for flute and whistle ornamentation.

Grey was a longtime member of the renowned group Metamora with Malcolm Dalglish and Pete Sutherland, with whom he recorded three albums and toured extensively. His collaboration with French Canadian singer, guitarist and foot percussionist Andre Marchand resulted in their award winning album The Orange Tree.

Grey Larsen offers concert performances, master classes, lecture-demonstrations, seminars, residencies, curtain talks and private lessons. He also demonstrates the hosting of traditional Irish music “sessions”, the social institution that more than any other keeps the Irish musical tradition alive.

Grey is at home on half a dozen instruments and in several musical styles. He currently records, produces, and masters recordings, scores films, and edits music for various books and for Sing Out magazine.

Grey Larsen plays Irish flute, tin whistles, Anglo concertina, harmonium, field organ, and piano.

Discography:

Banish Misfortune, with Malcolm Dalglish (June Appal Records 1976)

The First of Autumn, with Malcolm Dalglish (June Appal Records, 1978)

Thunderhead, with Malcolm Dalglish (Flying Fish Records, 1983)

Metamora, with Metamora ( Sugar Hill Records, 1985)

The Gathering (Sugar Hill Records, 1986)

The Great Road, with Metamora (Sugar Hill Records, 1987)

Morning Walk, with Metamora (Windham Hill Records, 1988)

Helpless Heart, with Maura O’Connell (Warner Brothers Records, 199)

The Orange Tree, with Andre Marchand (Sugar Hill Records, 1993)

The Green House, with Paddy League (2001)

Dark of the Moon (Sleepy Creek Music, 2003)

Les Marionnettes (Sleepy Creek Music, 2004)

Cross the Water (Sleepy Creek Music, 2007)

website: www.greylarsen.com

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Ojibway Flute Meditations

Various Artists – Native American Flute – Wolf Tracks, The Hoopdancer, Grey Owl Walking

Various Artists – Native American Flute – Wolf Tracks, The Hoopdancer, Grey Owl Walking (ARC Music EUCD2660, 2016)

Native American Flute – Wolf Tracks, The Hoopdancer, Grey Owl Walking is an album of traditional melodies performed by members of the Ojibway people (also known as Ojibwe or Chippewa). The album consists of beautiful flute melodies with or without accompaniment.

On some of the pieces the flute is accompanied by gentle drums, rattles, guitars, soundscape electronics, and sounds of nature such as the wind, rain, thunderstorms, howling wolves, crickets and more.

Wolf Tracks, The Hoopdancer, Grey Owl Walking is ideal for relaxing, while the flute lets your mind wander.

Buy Native American Flute – Wolf Tracks, The Hoopdancer, Grey Owl Walking

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Artist Profiles: Cathal McConnell

Cathal McConnell

Cathal McConnell is known and respected all over the world for his masterful flute playing and singing, solo as well as with his band, Boys of the Lough and for the enormous number of tunes and songs he has stored in his head over a lifetime in music. A co-founder of the band and a member for nearly thirty years, Cathal and the Boys Of The Lough have performed in major concert halls throughout the world and have recorded nearly twenty albums.

Born in Co. Fermanagh, in Northern Ireland, he won All-Ireland Championships in both flute and tin whistle at the age of 18. Five years later he started touring with the first incarnation of the Boys of the Lough and has been with them ever since as instrumentalist and lead singer. He has become well known over the years as a true virtuoso of the flute and pennywhistle.

Discography

The Boys of the Lough (Trailer Records, 1973)
Second Album (Trailer Records, 1973)
Live at Passim’s (Philo Records, 1974)
Lochaber No More (Philo Records, 1976)
The Piper’s Broken Finger (Transatlantic Records, 1976)
An Irish Jubilee ‎(Topic Records, 1976)
Good Friends … Good Music (Transatlantic Records, 1977)
On Lough Erne’s Shore (Topic Records, 1978)
Wish You Were Here (Transatlantic Records, 1978)
Regrouped (Flying Fish, 198)
In the Tradition (Topic Records, 1981)
Open Road (Topic Records, 1983)
To Welcome Paddy Home (Philo Records, 1985)
Far From Home – Live (Shanachie Records, 1986)
Farewell and Remember Me (Shanachie Records, 1987)
Sweet Rural Shade (Shanachie Records, 1988)
Live at Carnegie Hall (1992)
The Fair Hills of Ireland (Lough Records, 1992)
The Day Dawn (Lough Records, 1994)
Midwinter Night’s Dream (Blix Street Records, 1996)
The West of Ireland (Lough Records, 1999)
Long Expectant Comes at Last (2000)
Lonesome Blues and Dancing Shoes (Lough Records, 2002)
Twenty (Lough Records, 2005)
Rising Fawn Gathering, with Norman Blake (Western Jubilee Recording Company/Plectrafone Records, 2009)
Good Friends – Good Music (Rounder, 2009)

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Artist Profiles: Steinar Ofsdal

Steinar Ofsdal – Photo by Miriam Johanne Ofsdal Berg

Steinar Ofsdal was born in 1948 in Oslo, Norway. He has a varied musical background and is regarded as one of Norway’s top flute players.

He has worked within several musical genres in addition to folk music. Throughout the years he has collected instruments from all over the world, and his solo CD features compositions tailored specifically to these instruments. Ofsdal has collaborated with many other musicians, and is a member of the group Bukkene Bruse.

Discography

* Bukkene Bruse (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4053, 1993)
* Åre, with Bukkene Bruse (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4100, 1995)
* Seljefløyta, with Hallgrim Berg and Hans Fredrik Jacobsen (Grappa Musikkforlag HCD 7131, 1997)
* Steinstolen, with Bukkene Bruse (Grappa Musikkforlag HCD 7145, 1998)
* The Stone Chair, with «Bukkene Bruse» (North Side, 1999)
* Oslo-viser (Tylden & Co, 2000)
* På Stengrunn (Grappa 2001)
* Den fagraste rosa, with Bukkene Bruse (Grappa, 2001)
* The Loveliest Rose, with Bukkene Bruse (North Side, 2002)
* Sjøfløyta (Heilo, 2004)
* Spel, with “Bukkene Bruse” (Heilo, 2004)
* Kaké, with Aw-Ofsdal-Sereba (2004)
* Live at Sioux Falls, (Grappa GRCD4237, 2006)
* Sviv (Musikk & mystikk MMCD0801, 2008)
* Fjellfløyta/Vårfløyta (Musikk & mystikk MMCD0802, 2009)

Web Site: www.ofsdal.no

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Latin Jazz Flute Virtuoso Dave Valentin Dies at 64

Dave Valentin

Puerto-Rican American Latin jazz flutist Dave Valentin passed away today, March 8, 2017 in New York City.

Valentin was born in The Bronx neighborhood in New York City to Puerto-Rican parents. At 12 he started playing the flute and received music lessons from Hubert Laws.

Throughout the 1970s, Valentin played jazz and Latin jazz in various well-known bands. He also released numerous solo albums for the GRP and Highnote labels.

Dave Valentin was a dedicated flutist and innovator of crossover jazz. Under the mentorship of Hubert Laws, the New York native developed a signature sound by combining the influences of R&B, pop, and Brazilian music to create a specialized form of Latin jazz,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. “After his recording debut with Ricardo Marrero’s group, he went on to collaborate and perform with Tito Puente, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, Bill O’Connell, and Dave Samuels, among others. In 2002 he teamed with Samuels for the Caribbean Jazz Project album The Gathering, which won a GRAMMY® for Best Latin Jazz Album. His 2005 album World On A String and 2011 album Pure Imagination each received Latin GRAMMY nominations for Best Latin Jazz Album. Our thoughts go out to Dave’s family, friends, and fellow colleagues.”

In March of 2012 Valentin suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed and unable to perform.

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Interview with French Flutist and Composer Jean-Luc Thomas

Jean-Luc Thomas

 

Music is a fantastic communication medium” – French cross-cultural flutist-composer Jean-Luc Thomas

Based in Brittany, French flutist and composer Jean-Luc Thomas has traveled around the world for a series of musical collaborations. Celtic traditions blend in a creative mix with African, Arab and South American sounds in his albums. Spanning folk, classical music and jazz, Jean-Luc continues to cover a wide range of sounds and styles in his projects. His earlier albums include Ainara, Translations, The Dance of Fire, Parallel Horizon, Namou, Kej, Hastan, Dibenn, and History of Water, Tree and Stone.

I caught two performances of his fusion lineup promoting his most recent album, Magic Flutes, as part of an India tour. He performed with Indian musicians Ravichandra Kulur (flute), Giridhar Udupa (ghatam), and Muthu Kumar (tablas, cajon, djembe, darbuka). They played at Alliance Francaise and The B-Flat Bar in Bangalore. In this interview, Jean-Luc speaks on his collaboration of Celtic and Carnatic styles of music, his decades-long musical journey, and message to the world.

 

Jean-Luc Thomas in Bangalore with Indian flutist Ravichandra Kulur – Photo by Madanmohan Rao

 

Jean-Luc Thomas in Bangalore with Indian flutist Ravichandra Kulur – Photo by Madanmohan Rao

 

Jean-Luc Thomas with Kej

 

Q: How would you describe your musical journey so far, in terms of phases, genres, collaborations, inner discovery, and so on?

JL: I learned to play the flute alone, then I learned to play music thanks to others. I started with no teachers because flute, at that time, was very new in Brittany. So I had to find the basic technical things by myself. Then I met old singers of Breton traditional musics who gave me times and songs, then I went to Ireland to play during the sessions they have in pubs.

Here I learned many technical things and lots of tunes. I was a traditional musician for 15 years (quite successful), but I felt I had to listen to others sounds. So I went to Mali, Poland, Brazil, Kurdistan, Tunisia, Niger, and so on. I played each time with local musicians. I also started to meet jazz musicians, story-tellers, electronic musicians – and little by little I discovered new sounds, new territory. I improved my availability and capacity to listen and then play with other people.

So, I always keep one feet in my local music and the other foot in encounters of other artists with improvisation as a key to communicate.

 

Jean-Luc Thomas in Bangalore with Indian flutist Ravichandra Kulur – Photo by Madanmohan Rao

 

Q: How did the lineup for Magic Flutes get formed in France, and then in India?

JL: In France, Ravi and I decided to invite Camilo Menjura on guitar for the recording (we had met him earlier in Rudolstadt (Germany) in 2013). When we started recording Ravi and I immediately thought about Camilo. Camilo is a Colombian guitar player living in London. When we performed last June, he couldn’t leave England for administrative reasons, so we had Philippe Bayle at the guitar. In June, we also performed with tabla player Prabhu Edouard, who plays kanjira and some other percussion as well. It was a great moment!

In India, Ravi wanted to try several combinations, I think it was a very good idea. We could change the colors of each concert, so we had Giridhar Udupa (ghatam), Muthu Kumar (tablas, cajon, darbuka), Swam Selvanganesh (kanjira), and Rafiq Langa (khartal). We played sometimes in trio, sometimes in quartet. I completely trusted Ravi on his musical propositions. So, every concert was a different party.

Q: What are the features of Carnatic music that makes it possible for you to collaborate so well with South Indian musicians?

JL: As a Breton traditional musician, I come from a modal music, not tonal. This is the specificity of Carnatic ragas. We play modes or ragas and not tonality.  I’m fascinated with modes, music with drones, which is very meditative and very inspiring for improvisation. The time stops, you are in a meditative atmosphere and then you let the ideas become organized, the improvisation emerges, and you let music go through you!

Q: How was your overall experience touring through India this month? What were some highlights for you?

JL: We had very good concerts in Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Delhi. Every concert was different because we changed the line up for each concert. It was a really good experience to travel through India with Ravichandra as a guide. I saw so many different things, met so many people, listen to so many amazing musics, eaten so many different meals, that I need a little bit of time for a good digestion of all that!

 

Jean-Luc Thomas in Bangalore – Photo by Madanmohan Rao

 

Q: How did the musicians know each other?

JL: I met Ravi in Rudolstadt in July 2014, Camilo Menjura was also a part of Magic Flute’s first creation in Rudolstadt. Then sometimes I introduced Ravi to Western musicians, sometimes Ravi introduced me to Indian musician. Music is a fantastic communication medium!

During the Indian tour, many musicians met just before the concert. The musical quality of each of them allows lot of precision and freedom for us. Music allows that situation, especially if you are ready to improvise, which is obvious in India, but not so obvious sometimes in Europe.

Q: How is your album being received by audiences and media?

JL: We had very good feedbacks of this album, internationally (Canada, South America, USA Belgium) and in France (including Brittany, where I live). Endorsements and praise have come from Cloudcast (Canada), RTBF (Belgium), Le Tregor, Global Village, Trad Magazine, and Ethnotempos.

Q: The tracks ‘Crossroads’ and ‘Carnaak Nagin’ really jump out! Can you describe how they were created?

JL: I composed the fast melody of Crossroads for Ravi in 2014 when I came to Bangalore. I was thinking about his flute and this tune arrived. Then we practiced together and Ravi wanted to have an aalap. When he played it, I was thinking of the ancient Pibroch (Piobaireachd or Celmar) of the old tradition of bagpipes from Scotland. Then Ravi composed the last tunes, and one after the other, each of us brought an idea; we tried, we kept, we changed, we threw, we kept some elements. It is the way we work together. On the album, the presence and colors of Camilo Menjura are awesome, and he contributes a lot to the sound of this album.

Carnaak Nagin is another story. We were talking about common groove and scales. I played a very old tune from South Brittany on a very old scale (microtonality, ¼ tone) and Ravi immediately enjoyed it, so we played it again. The tempo arrived and the dances from South-Brittany could communicate with Indian snake’s dances. For the recording, Ravi also wanted to have additional percussion and they also bring their own colors in this album, on tunes like Carnaak Nagin. (Carnac is a place in south Brittany famous for menhirs and dolmens of the old Celts tradition.)

Q: What other lineups have you played with?

JL: The album original ‘Magic Flutes’ features Camilo Menjura (guitar), Jerome Kerihuel (percussion), and additional percussionists K.U Jayachandra Rao (mridangam), G. Guruprasanna (kanjira) and Muthu Kumar (table, darbuka). For my Bangalore tour in 2014, I collaborated with Arun Kumar (drums), Prakash Kn (bass), and Aman Mahajan (keyboards).

In France, I have teamed up with Philippe Bayle (guitar) and Prabhu Edouard (tablas, kanjir). Other musicians on my India tour this year have been Swami Selvanganesh (kanjira) and Rafiq Langa (karthals).

 

Jean-Luc Thomas

 

Q: What are the challenges you face as a musician and composer?

JL: As a flute player, you need to work every day on the instrument, so, it’s a lot of time just to keep connected to the instrument. You need to work on technical things, daily exercises on improvisation and traditional music. Then you need to feed your art by listening, reading, observing nature, to find inspiration for compositions, new roads to explore as an artist and, of course, meet other musicians.

And then, you need to work, record albums, perform live. I created a label with Gaby Kerdoncuff, another musician from Brittany, called Hirustica, which is 10 years in 2017. It allows us to record and produce our music with 100% liberty. So you need to be always connected to the instrument, find ideas and be creative, try to perform to make your compositions live on stage or on albums.

Q: Who would you say are the leading influences in your musical career?

JL: So many influencers, from local musicians and singers from Brittany and Ireland to others like Hariprasad Chaurasia, Hermeto Pascoal, Alim Kasimov, Steve Reich, Egberto Gismonti, Eric Dolphy, and Rolland Kirk – without forgetting the amazing nature from Brittany with sea, birds, forests and rivers and all the wonderful musicians I met on my musical journey!

Q: How do you blend different musical influences and genres, i.e. how do you create fusion without confusion?

JL: In all the collaborations I had, I wanted everybody to keep his accent. I think of music as a discussion, sometimes you have to talk, sometimes you have to listen and be silent when the other is speaking. When everybody speaks, that’s confusion for me in music as in life. So, the human quality of the others musicians is also fundamental.

Q: What kinds of social and political messages have been conveyed in your recent albums? What is your vision of what music can do in this age of political and economical turmoil?

JL: We can be Indian, Breton, Nigerian, and so on – but before all we are terrans, we live on this earth, we have our qualities and limit. There are so many things we can’t do alone so we need to work and learn from the other. Anyone else can teach us some important things in music, in life. We need to move the borders, keep our accent, our spices, but cook together something new with humility and sincerity because each is a new school.

1+1 is more than 2. Over religions, politics, and opinions, you have music and the quality of a relationship on stage. I played with so many different musicians. But I felt always the desire to share music above all with all of them. Through music or arts, you can meet so many different people. Learn to accept and enjoy the difference because it helps to learn and grow.

Q: What new album or video are you working on now?

JL: The next album, ‘Serendou.’ will be released in February. It’s a collaboration with the amazing flautist and singer Yacouba Moumouni and Boubacar Souleymane from Niger, we have worked together for 10 years now. We played in Niger, France, Brazil, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, and now it’s time for the second album. We have guests Carlos Malta (Pifano-Japurutu) and Bernardo Aguiar (pandeiro) from Rio de Janeiro, and the amazing Michel Godard on tuba. We’ll be on tour in France and Scandinavia in March 2017.

 

Jean-Luc Thomas with Serendou

 

Jean-Luc Thomas with Serendou

 

 

Jean-Luc Thomas with Carlos Malta and Bernardo Aguiar (Brazil)

 

Jean-Luc Thomas with Carlos Malta and Bernardo Aguiar (Brazil)

 

I will also finish a new solo creation ‘Oficina Digital,’ which is a concert where I wrote 100% of the music. I worked with a looper who sent soundtakes I made in Brazil during different stays and my own flute that I loop in real time for diffusion via five speakers around the audience. There is also a video I made in Brazil. It’s a creation with video mappings and spatialized sounds, and takes me a lot of time.

Q: How is the creative scenario for jazz and fusion music in France today?

JL: My humble perception is that it’s still possible to find some places opened to experimentations, creations, far from the big music business. But it’s a fragile network supported by people of an amazing faith in new sounds, radicalities and explorations. I’m surrounded by fine musicians who try to explore new musical horizons, sometimes they can have support from festivals, venues, producers, radios – and sometimes not, but most of them don’t give up and never will.

In the 70s it seemed that everything was possible, now some producers have managed to format music as entertainment and not for art or culture, so it’s not so easy for creative and original artists to be regularly programmed. But there still remain some places and festivals who keep providing spaces for undiscovered sounds.

Q: Are French audiences, venues, labels and artistes very open to collaboration?

JL: Some are, others are not. Most of them are in search of rentability or easy profit. It means mainstream success. As in any city, you can find fast food and cheap bad food restaurants, you’ll find in the world (and France is a part of that), fast listening, quick consuming, big musical gatherings who can survive because they sell lots of beers surrounded by a bad loud sound. But it’s also always possible to find real restaurants with people who prepare good food with originality, ethics and creativity.

Q: Where do you see yourself 10 or 15 years from today? What are some ‘dream projects’ or visions you are working towards?

JL: I have no vision, life has taught me that everything I have is more than any of the dreams I could have. I play with fantastic musicians: Michel Godard, Yacouba Moumouni, Carlos Malta, Ravichandra Kulur, and so on. I never dreamed of that and it’s really deeper and more beautiful that any dreams I could have.

So, no projection, I keep working on my Breton garden, open to Indian spices, African ginger, Brazilian coconut – trying to be honest with me, musicians I play with and audiences who may come to my concerts.

Q: How does your composition process work? When do collaboration and jams come in?

JL: Each composition is different. You can compose thinking about a place, a person, you can compose during an exercise, during a walk in the forest, looking at the sea, or inspired by a book.  I always start with a melody. I sing it, then I record it in a non definitive version. I let it sleep for a while and come back to it a few days later to listen with fresh ears – I change some things or maybe not, and then think about the pulse, a bass line, some harmonies.

Then I may continue alone or submit to other musicians who will add their own creativity for the structure, introduction and so on. Sometimes I can do everything at home, sometimes I wait for a rehearsal to fix more some elements. Each composition has its own story!

Q: Do you compose on the road also, while traveling?

JL: It happens, I need calm, time, good vibes, feeling quiet to be able to compose. Very often, I compose after traveling, back home, quiet.

 

Jean-Luc Thomas

 

Q: What are some unusual reactions you have got during your live performances?

JL: With Magic Flutes, during our last concert in France in June 2016, many people cried. They had too much emotion relating to the dialogue, respect, love between myself and Ravichandra Kulur. That was very intense for Ravi and me.

 

 

Q: Do you also teach workshops for students and musicians?

JL: Yes, very often, it can be traditional music from Brittany or Ireland, or improvisation. I give three or four workshops (from two days to one week) each year.

 

Jean-Luc Thomas

 

Q: How has the music industry changed over the years, and what are the effects? For example, downloads, social media, loops/mixers.

JL: Everything changes around us, everyday. So, you have to learn and adapt. I don’t want to be sad about old times. What is happening, happens. I knew vinyl, tapes, CDs, and now digital technology. But in Brittany vinyl is back with lots of interest. So it’s good to be connected to the world, we can listen today to all the music of the world, but do we listen? One thing will never change, it’s the quality of time you spend practicing, rehearsing, listening.

Q: What is your message to the musicians and audiences out there?

JL: Keep faith, work on your personality, open your ears and your heart. Never forget curiosity and alterity!

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