Vincent Courtois .Cello Robin Fincker .Clarinet, tenor saxophone Daniel Erdmann .Tenor Saxophone
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After an open tribute to film-music composers (Bandes Originales / 2017), the trio formed by Vincent Courtois, Daniel Erdmann and Robin Fincker takes hold of the immense work of Jack London and produce an album, recorded on the lands of the writer in California, portraying the complexity and beauty of the Martin Eden author's work.
"I discovered Jack London quite recently, in August 2016 : first, the South Sea Tales then the seminal indispensable Martin Eden" remembers Vincent Courtois. “The dense, semi-autobiographical work, so rich and so powerful, has been by my side ever since. In my daily life, a companion on my travels and an inspiration to my music.”
The idea soon came to the cellist to organise a tour of concerts in the footsteps of Jack London and record an album inspired by his work, in the writer's fief in Oakland, California. The trio which has since become one of the most valuable formations of European jazz since their first album « Mediums » in 2012 crossed the Atlantic accompanied by the sound engineer Gerard de Haro (La Buissonne) and first played a couple of shows on the east coast (Boston, New York) before reaching the bay of San Francisco where a recording with an audience had been organized. The day before the recording, an appointment was made with Jack London's great-grand daughter Tarnell Abbott, in the writer's farmhouse which has become an historic park on the eastern slope of Mount Sonoma. Vincent Courtois, Daniel Erdmann and Robin Fincker even improvised on the author's grave, a few meters from the ruins of his ranch which went up in flames.
This moment was captured by the photographer Loïc Vincent and was to become the Love of Life album's cover.
All the album's compositions are based on Jack London novels and short-stories, which Courtois, Erdmann and Fincker have been discovering ever since this project took shape in the head of the cellist. Courtois regularly improvises and writes around prose texts and poems (with the actor Pierre Baux and the writer Frédéric Boyer in particular) but had never taken his trio on this fertile ground.
Here, it is the music aims to respond to the stories of Jack London whose real force is, according to Vincent Courtois, "to reach into our lives with his own, to become the friend, this brother, comrade in whose company each day brings a new story”.
From Jack London, Courtois drew a certain rhythm, a pace, even an urgency. He was more interested in the underworld reporter, the political writer (Goliah, The Dream of Debs on the utopia of a general strike) the man of a thousand lives who knew vagrancy (The Road) and prison-life (The Star Rover) as much as celebrity, than the author of Call of the Wild.
The richness of the Martin Eden masterpiece is evoked on two mirrored tracks - the first one inspired by the chaotic and clumsy beginnings of the book's main character and which will recall the Mediums album's repertoire and the second one based on the last chapter of the book, synonymous with elevation and liberation. The two versions of To Build A Fire are also subject to two compositions that illustrate a certain duality in the perception of London's writings.
"It seems to me that for Jack London, the context is sometimes more important than the story", says Courtois, who guided his true-false chamber music trio far from its comfort zone, accompanying the Jack London gold-searchers in Alaska (Trust) or in the Canadian tundra (Love of Life) and seal-hunters in the North Pacific (The Seawolf).
Accustomed to long-term collaborations and unpredictable, multi-faceted proposals (for The Demons of Tosca, he imagined a variable-sized group proposing concerts in prisons and schools), Vincent Courtois formed “Oakland” in parallel of the “Love of Life” repertoire, where the trio interacts with singer-songwriter John Greaves and the comedian Pierre Baux.around on texts drawn from Jack London's Martin Eden.
RECORDED IN OAKLAND, 25TH STREET RECORDING STUDIO JUNE 26TH 27TH 2019
BY GÉRARD DE HARO ASSISTED BY GABRIEL SHEPARD
Mixed by Gérard de Haro at La Buissonne Studio, Pernes les Fontaines
Mastered by Nicolas Baillard at La Buissonne Mastering Studios
Produced by La Compagnie de l’imprévu and Gérard de Haro & RJAL for La Buissonne Label
Artwork by Loïc Vincent
Marketed in cooperation with ECM records
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