Friday, December 14, 2007

The French Touch

Lets take a step back 30 or so years to analyse its homonymous during the 60’s / 70’s. The French sound is indisputably characteristic and it distinguishes itself musically in its Cinematic Sound as well as Library or simply on a Pop Jazz level in such that the French have always liked to experiment with electronic equipment along with acoustic instruments for realising very creative and innovative sounds. As we have already discussed in precedent issues the end of the sixties was a very fertile period for that regarding this kind of sound and it is just that on which I will be focusing by once again telling you about all that which I feel to be essential. Let’s start then with a few illustrious names… Vincent Geminiani was a French composer and sculpture who loved percussion, not intended as we intend it, but as a ‘sculpture instrument’, experimental and orchestral like, for example, ‘Le Brontè’, a kind of singular vibraphone created by him and used on many occasions, also requested by other composers. At the beginning of the seventies he created “Musique Pour Un Voyage Extraordinaire” that was nothing less that a musical comment abstract enough for a Shakespeare piece… a bit like Axelrod for William Blake.

In 1972 MPI (Musique Pour L’image), a transalpine label that specialised in post-scoring for the tv and radio, published some of his compositions amongst which a piece called “Orphis Le Serpentaire” that fully represented that which was the French sound of that period where everything was allowed and where culture, sound and style research seeped through. This song was contained on a piece of vinyl that included all of the pop experimentations of Gemiani from that period entitled ‘Modern Pop Percussion De Paris’ in which scat vocals mixed together with true bass ‘trips’, drums and ‘orchestral noises’, blossoming into beautiful pop pieces with very groovy and catchy rhythms. Another big name was Nino Nardini, a French composer of Italian origin who started his musical experience at a very early age because, just like Geminiani, he came from a family of musicians. Many of his best compositions tied to the sound in question are ‘available’ on Chappell (a French label that specialised in post-scoring music) and one of his pieces of work (re-pressed just as few years ago) that I would recommend is “Rotonde Musique” that was realised with the Pop Riviera Orchestra where the sound is very similar to that of the Mohawks but with a softer touch.. a ‘French Touch’ to be more precise.

In a previous Article I mentioned his masterpiece “Jungle Obsession”, an album to have at any cost because it represents and essential piece of musical history, I will talk again about it though for the motive I have just mentioned and also because it introduces another maestro who collaborated often with Nardini. They called themselves Roger Roger (Georges Teperino) and many of their works were helped along by Nardini for the Chappell label (the “Mood Music” volumes are proof of such…). Roger Roger were specialised in electronic amalgamated with knowledge giving, naturally, a French Touch to the orchestral parts as well as the grooves. Another pseudonym was Cecil Leuter with which was signed the masterpiece entitled “Pop Electronique”, a very rare piece of vinyl, already reviewed in ‘The Soul Beat’, that united pure electronic with pure groove! To finish off this focus on the ‘60’s French Touch’ I will cite a composer of Balkan origins who is also one of my favourites… this much sought after musician (musically of course) is Andy Lore (or Daniel White, Janko Nilovic), one of the maestro’s of Parisian library music. “Pop Impressions”, “Psich Impressions”, “Vocal Impressions”, “Pop Revolution”, “Ambience Et Rhymes” and many others are his pieces of work realised during the 60’s on labels such as Telemusic, Montparnasse 2000 and many others.
The sound of Nilovic was very unmistakable and had a certain baroque touch to it where scat vocals and orchestral parts (often abstract) were united to contemporary rhythms (60’s) and a pop jazz sound. For space reasons I have only told you about the most famous exponents of that which I define as the ‘60’s French Touch’ but many other composers and musicians have contributed to it also: names that often signed to soundtracks or post-scoring were Vladimir Cosma, Jack Arel, Dave Sucky, R. Guiot, Guy Pedersen, Francis Lay, Roland Vincent, Romauld and others. I will stop here… now its your turn to try and figure out the true origins of the ‘French Touch’. Aurevoire and.. peace now!

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Interview to David Axelrod " The Axelrod Tape "

Quote David Axelrod web site :

An award-winning producer for Capitol Records who produced, great jazz, funk, and soul records during the 1960s and '70s, from Stan Kenton to Lou Rawls to The Electric Prunes to Cannonball Adderley. David Axelrod created his own distinct style. He has earned one Grammy and five nominations, along with seven gold records. Serious jazz lovers will recognize his name.
Axelrod freely uses drums, horns, strings, string bass as well as woodwinds along with key board, in his compositions. Poetry has been an influence on his compositions. He is considered a visionary and the father of fusion.

As I wrote in a previous transcript I got in touch with David
Axelrod's son Dana to interview "The Maestro" .
Interviewing him for the first time was a strange sutuation for me, I
was very shy to ask all the normal questions that every Jurnalist would
like to ask, after all what more can I ask to a living legend like David
Experience, Sampling, Productions, Origins, Taste...

David Axelrod for me is a kind of " Deep Composer ", I never knew
what to call his Style, so deep so intelligent, a kind of "Baroque
orchestral message". Funk Jazz tinged ...Out of any " regola " Free from
music standards, a kind of Archetypal music.

The first time I heard him was like an illumination,
"Who can mix Classical moods , Jazz , Soul , Funk and Rock together
with God's blessing"?

So I started to research as always... and collecting... new experiences!

Song of Innocence
Song of Experience
Rock Messiah
Earth Riot

Loads of productions, lots of them sampled by big modern artists like
DJ Shadow, DR Dre and many more...

It was like living in the 70's when I received the "tape" with the
recorded answers, it was pretty strange for me receive a tape in 2007
but this is all part of the legend that is Axelrod...

I don’t have a tape recorder any more, shame on me! How times have
I found the "tape recorded" interview so cool because, Axelrod
answered me directly. Answers without questions... for me it was a type
of poetry.
When I listened to the tape I decided to put the interview here on
Jazzmotel, laid bare without questions, just like a kind of statement,
David Axelrod "SPEAKING BY HIMSELF" to answer me... the interviewer...
A true privilege and one interview I will never forget.

In the internet and electronic era it is quite cool receive a tape,
so this my friends is the "Axelrod tape!"

How you doing Alessio?

Everything is fine here in the States. It couldn’t be better.

Well, sampling and music seems to be here, although they are cutting down on it, and I don’t mind having my music sampled. I think it’s kind of neat, that so many people are interested in it, especially if it’s done right.

No, I wasn’t angry when I first heard myself being sampled, I thought it was kicks. I broke up laughing. Then came some serious samples, and if you can get someone like the way Dre did it, the way he did Next Episode, when he sampled The Edge, and what I used as the intro, he put behind the first four bars of the band. And it worked, it really did work.

Also Diamond D, the way he did things when he sampled Mental Traveller, when he put the guitars in different places than I did, and I kind of liked it, as much as what I did was the only way I had done it.

So what’s the sense of getting angry, it’s going to be done anyway, you just have to hope that whoever does it does it musically.

Well downloading is here, and it won’t be a problem once the majors figure out how to utilize it and sell their product on it. The only thing I don’t like about it, is the sound itself. Certain things become very tinny, especially if they have any kind of orchestra, the orchestra sounds very bad. If you using a quartet or a quintet or something you’re far better off. I just don’t like the sound

Well before the sixties and seventies, I was just into a great deal of jazz, as a matter of fact as from about 1954/1955 through the early 60’s, that’s all I listened to. But as I said, before that, I was listening to jazz and rhythm and blues,. People like Amos Milburn and Little Milton and others and especially T-Bone Walker.

Learning music on my own was very very difficult. I don’t recommend it. Did it add to my personal style?..Probably. Because I was already writing before I got involved with certain rules that had to be supposedly applied with. I broke those rules and now that I know better, I still break them. But you better learn. Whether it’s your own or whether it’s within a school. I’ve often told Randy Newman, who I’m very very fond of, that I envy his education at USC (*University of Southern California). A degree in music is a great help.

I don’t hear a lot of cohesive albums any more. It’s like concept-albums seem to be out. I don’t know why that is because I love concept albums and I’ve been doing them my whole musical life, starting in 1967. So why that’s not happening now I don’t know. Maybe it’s the labels. If so, they’re making a mistake. If someone has a good idea for a concept, it’s always going to be cool. Check out people like Alan Parsons

Yeah, I would like to tell your readers to check out

They will really enjoy it.
And… thank you

All the pictures curtesy of

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Carlos " Patato " Valdès

I just knew from my Latin friends in America that Patato was not good ...
Then i had the bad notice from my friend Harvey Averne that the Great percussion player passed ...
I had a look around to get some infos about Him and I went to see a great article on
Nobody could explay better than Herencia Latina , the life , the feelings , the vibe and the story of thig little great Brother !
So I invite you to go there and have a read at this story .
Rest in peace Brother Patato and " beat" them all with your Congas !

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