At Jazz à l’Etage, Laurent Courthaliac plays the game

At Jazz à l’Etage, Laurent Courthaliac plays the game

Pianist Laurent Courthaliac in concert, in 2022, at Sunset-Sunside, in Paris.

Since 2010, Yann Martin, his family and the legion of volunteers they lead, have aimed to promote “young artists representative of 21st century musice century “ in Brittany. Young and old, moreover. That the opening of the 2023 edition is entrusted to an artist as constantly unexpected as John Scofield, guitarist for guitarists selected very early on by Miles Davis, has symbolic and project value.

Read also (in 2016): The Jazz à l’Etage festival heads for the West Indies

Yann Martin multiplies the formulas, tries breakthroughs: five free concerts, Friday March 3, in popular bars and brasseries of Saint-Malo (Ille-et-Vilaine), with the complicity of high-flying musicians. Risky exercise. This is where the strength of Jazz à l’Etage lies (L’Etage, an alternative place in Rennes, also hosts part of the festival). In the way great musicians like Laurent Courthaliac (pianist, 50, one of the very first “arrangers” of the time) play the game. Proof by three of this philosophy of promise, the next day, Saturday March 4, at La Grande Passerelle, at 4 p.m.: Robin Mansanti, trumpeter and singer, 34 years old, Gabriel Sauzay (double bass) and Laurent Courthaliac, common thread of the festival, now producer.

In a space designed for passage, the Saint-Malo media library proves to be ideal for an intimate trio. Courthaliac showcased Mansanti’s singular talent. The album, produced by his new label LP3 45-Records (Courthaliac, Luigi Grasso and Yaron Herman, associate musicians, plus Peter Schnur, music lover and collector), is entitled American night. The concert, The Spirit of Chet Baker !

If the proximity of Mansanti and the very mythical Chet (1929-1988) is undeniable, nothing obliges to be as vulgar as a TV juggler to talk about “reincarnation”. It is still necessary to be tempted by an effort of thought. Mansanti’s assumed closeness to Chet Baker is only thinkable on the condition of remaining truly oneself. Not to mention that he did not invent the doctrine of “imitation”, proper to all great poetics, and so characteristic of the ethos of the jazz musician: to distinguish oneself by choice and identification of desired influences.

For Courthaliac? “Duke Ellington, Monk, Barry Harris… Monk and Ellington didn’t go to school, they are school. Barry Harris, Monk’s alter ego, I worked with him for eight years. Monk is a swing pianist. It’s not the phrasing that you have to aim for, but the angle: it’s geometric music in all its aspects, rhythmic, melodic, harmonic…”

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