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Baptiste Trotignon

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"Because “hitting” a percussive instrument is the primitive and driving force of sound, a fundamental element of so many music forms, an organic element and life source. It’s the core of most Afro-American music and all of those which resulted. And because my love for melody, which has always given me the desire to make the piano sing and to use it as a cantabile instrument, has never completely distanced me from the enjoyment of hitting which is totally instinctive and terrestrial.

When strikes multiply and organize in a coherent musical speech, they give birth to an infi nite diversity of rhythms and resulting exchanges, and it’s the way that a particular sentence is accentuated, note or harmony, which sustains these rhythms. I have always been fascinated by this notion of accent. It is also exciting to hear that a parallel could be drawn between a certain lineage of accentuation masters in the jazz idiom (Bill Evans and Lennie Tristano eg, only to mention pianists) with some European composers for whom the placement of these accents is a joyful creative engine in itself (I think of Beethoven, Bartok, Ligeti, among others ...). One of the dimensions of « Hit » is to have conceived the record as a series of games around these accents, be it in writing or improvising, in voluble and brilliant moments, or in more melodic and meditative ballads.

Baptiste Trotignon - New album - EPK

Recording an album of exclusive trio compositions is kind of a homecoming for me (I haven’t done it for 13 years). I had a feeling that now was the right time to do it. I am sometimes asked whether it makes sense to continue to practice this formula, which has historically been overused by pianists. I admit it never occurred to me. I never doubted the unlimited resources of this triangle architecture which remains a source of shared pleasure, and of a possible language renewal. Would a solo artist signing along with his guitar lose sense, under the pretext that it has already been done ?

As I like to do it, the music on this album is a mix of multiple sources of inspiration (here an almost pop song, there a very rock mood, elsewhere a very Latin melody...). But it remains lovingly connected to the foundations of African-American music, driven by something joyous in its dynamic, and a common desire (for Thomas, Jeff and me) to remain playful, even when the sound construction calls for a certain sophistication. As the philosopher/artist said, what else are we doing than trying to « revive the seriousness we put in playing as a child ? »
Baptiste Trotignon


2012 was an eventful year for Baptiste Trotignon... After over 80 concerts in France, Europe and Asia, Baptiste released this fall an amazing and bold album entitled « Song, Song, Song » where he invites an amazing handful of voices to join him : Jeanne Added, Monica Passos, Miossec (with whom he co-wrote two songs) and delicious Melody Gardot. This « declaration of love for the voice » (Le Monde) combines with relish his universe as a composer with carefully chosen covers of French songs played on the piano solo. The album is a critical and commercial success. At the same time his Concerto for Piano « Different Spaces” was created by Nicholas Angelich, and the O.N.B.A, his first major orchestral work, written entirely without improvisation, was received with great enthusiasm at its creation. The recording of this album is planned for 2014-2015. This new aspect of his work has led him to develop these kinds of projects (soundtrack for Vincent Trintigant-Corneau, writing a first String Quartet ...).

Here is a playlist of all his videos available on YouTube :

NOTES FROM THE ALBUM (text by Baptiste Trotignon) :

This is an album that I deeply desired for a long time.

I have always liked to defend the cantabile side of piano within the jazz idiom, a love probably inherited from my repeated listening to great "classic" performers and European composers who played them. I feel that I learned a lot from listening to afro-american voices, trying to imitate them on my instrument. First, I did my best to catch the direct relationship between the body and the expression of the melody (all instruments which are not blown are likely to be those where the greatest effort is needed to capture a natural expressive voice). Then I tried to understand the phrasing of these voices, all possible ranges in the fascinating rhythmic placement of a sung phrase that can give the divine illusion to directly descend from angels, or conversely, give it the role of an indigent buffoonery. Discovering Joao Gilberto only ten years ago (thank you Christian !) was a true musical shock which enlightened me tremendously. It gave me the desire to work on the malleable material of this sweet madness where complex rhythms serve childish melodies. After that, listening closely to a number of vocalists introduced me to the subject and made me glimpse the clear and simple intention of a song format (simple in the Mozart sense), sometimes far away from the sophistication of other afro-american music branches, a delightful sophistication that I needed to move away from temporarily. Blossom Dearie, Mel Torme, Nat King Cole, Chet, Elis, Billie, Marvin Gaye, Stevie, Donny... were at that time some of the voices among others that led me to rethink some bias.

I owe my first creative experience with song composition to Jean Fauque whose whimsical and dreamy texts inspired me to put music into songs, some used for his first self-interpreted album, others somehow forgotten at the end of a workbook. Breaking through words, literary genres, tasted like a fresh and fluid candy, miles away from inherent concerns brought by the creative turpitude of jazzmen, always anxious of the eternal - and sometimes illusory - personal renewal. Sometimes, going through these euphoric composition phases momentarily leads you to give in to a pseudo-romantic writing folklore (late nights, smoky and good vintage… if possible). Then I met with Christophe Miossec, who I knew "by name" as it’s commonly said, but not much more. Beyond the "French rock" sound associated with him, I discovered a true poet, bright and burning, with a gentle and lucid cruelty, and with this direct simplicity mentioned above. Despite our differences in musical practices, we had this common need to always try to surprise, avoid our own repetitions and formatted path.

From this beautiful encounter arose a number of songs, a concert in Bourges which at first sight seemed highly improbable, but turned out to leave beautiful memories, and the discovery of the icy Brest sea in the middle of August. For some songs, music was made from the bare text (as for "Mon fantôme" here, where Melody perfectly plays the earlier mentioned phrasing), others were more empirically informal rehearsals, in a "work in progress" spirit that would not be denied by the fiercest jazzmen (this is the case with "Palavas-les-Flots"). All the other songs were written - almost verbatim - from existing instrumental melodies.


"At a time when the art of commentary has assumed greater importance than the artistic object itself, in the same way as there are soldiers who no longer know why they’re fighting, I think it’s necessary to give listeners back their personal right to be affected by and like (or dislike) a piece of music in complete freedom, and I will therefore refrain from describing the pieces presented on this album, a selection from the eleven years I’ve spent with Naïve.

On the other hand, I am keen to underline once more how happy I’ve been over that period to be able to create and offer the public different facets of my musical loves, from the first trio to the quartet co-led with David El Malek by way of the lone odyssey on solo piano, then the ‘American’ adventures. Listening to these recordings again, I realise that I have done nothing other than try to bring to light a number of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic obsessions, since the way a note becomes brighter or darker according to what is heard around it has always fascinated me. A sort of miniature musical humanism perhaps, for men and women and their energies also grow brighter or darker in contact with one another. More generally, there is also my fascination with the fact that art is one of the rare human manifestations in which violence can be clothed in elegance.

The concert presented on the DVD is something very special, and I had my heart set on releasing it despite some imperfections I’m quite happy to live with (the fragilities of a ‘premiere’, recording problems on the day of the concert, and the fearsome temperature for the strings under the canopy !).
For several decades now, the language of jazz and Afro-American music has contained within it a broad palette of colours derived from European music (a term which seems to me more accurate than ‘classical’ music), and my work as an improviser and composer is naturally nourished by these two cultures. Even if it means that this delightful schizophrenia generates ambiguities as to which sphere of influence the music belongs to, I can’t stop myself loving both these worlds, distinct not only in the various degrees of sophistication of language they have developed but also in their totally different conceptions of space, time, and sound.

The composition and creation at Jazz in Marciac 2010 of this ‘Suite for Quintet and Orchestra’ (for which I used as ‘raw material’ the Suite written a year previously for quintet) was thus a very exciting project, a new stage for me in a process I’m keen to develop further, which makes room for expanded forms. I wanted to conceive it as a sort of concerto in which the two protagonists, the ‘classical’ orchestra and the ‘jazz’ quintet, could dialogue in counterpoint with one another, while trying to respect with maximum clarity the rules of written composition for the former and improvisation for the latter.
I hope you’ll enjoy listening to this music as much as I did playing it. For a while !"

Baptiste Trotignon

Translation : Charles Johnston

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