Saturday, May 23, 2015

Jean-Christophe Renvoyer 13 Questions

The French guitarist, banjoist and composer Jean-Christophe Renvoyer is active in various styles of music ... jazz, world, contemporary. He has produced many different groups and participate in various projects. Born in Cholet, the 20th June 1967 he's passionate about the music from his youngest age. Upon entering college, he has the opportunity to practice different instruments: Piano, synthesizer, acoustic guitar, harmonica, flute, xylophone. At the age of 14 he "flashes" on electric guitar and starts to work the instrument. He began his fast musical career in various local rock bands. He treads the boards at festivals where it will include the opportunity to share the stage with Bernard Lavilliers and the Senegalese group Touré Kunda.

From 1986 to 1988 he moves away from the stage to devote himself to his studies in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Automation. In 1989, his meeting with pianist Jean-Maurice Rouzeau, bassist Nicolas Kuczma (fan of Weather Report) and the late drummer Lawrence Philips, allows him to take a musical activity and interest in improvised music. The quartet they go up together, will foam western France for 3 years.

Between 1992 and 1996, parallelly to his job as an industrial designer, he continues his guitar career within more training oriented jazz-fusion with regional musicians like saxophonist Frédéric Renard
or bassist Didier Raoult. Turning the page when at the end of this period "learning", he decided to leave his profession to devote himself entirely to music. He then made his journey playing in various varieties orchestras. In 2000 he formed his first straight-ahead jazz band with bassist Franck Brousseau and drummer Sebastian Jonckheere. Since it occurs he works in 5-6 different courses within a collective. It also enriched his musical experiences by participating in projects related to the World Music or close to experimental music. Along with the guitar, he plays tenor banjo. In 2012, he joined the musicians Xavier Aubret, Attila Turi and Gabor Turi in a New Orleans jazz band. In total autonomy, it has launched several solo projects or in collaboration with musician friends and production works (Double Take Jazz Records, Jean-Christophe Renvoyer Downloads, Bruno Garreau & Jean-Christophe Renvoyer Downloads, WET Records, GJT Records ...).

What do you remember about your first guitar?

Initially, my passion for music was not accompanied by a choice of instrument in particular. Very young, I was above all passionate about film music, especially Ennio Morricone and François de Roubaix. There were some musical instruments hanging at home ... a recorder, an old organ (an Italian brand well known!), A diatonic harmonica, violin study (my father had practiced a little the instrument in his youth). Very quickly, I tried ear to reproduce these intruments, the melodies I heard in films that passed the evening on TV. The instrument did not matter, as long as I could reproduce the themes that I appreciated. At the same time, I began to discover the eclectic discography that my parents had and where jumble coexisted Chopin, Ferré, Sidney Bechet, Django, Morricone, Elvis, The Shadows, Procol Harum ...

At the entrance to college, I had the opportunity to practice the nylon guitar. But my first guitar shock took place seeing a TV shot from the Irish rock band Thin Lizzy. I must have been 13 or 14 years. I also believe that beyond the band's music, these are the two guitarists and the Gibson Les Paul that especially impressed me at the time ... I became (and I am) a big fan Phil Lynott and his minions! My story with the guitar really started then. Having heard and seen these types, it absolutely had me an electric guitar! I thank my parents, now disappeared, to me have offered. It was a solid body Ibanez ... a low-end model wood color I have kept 5 or 6 years.
 First studio season 1983

Which was the first and the last record you bought with your own money?

Apart from an album of Morricone I bought with my pocket money at the age of 10, I remember especially my first cassette (it was in the early 80s!): ​​"Animals" of Pink Floyd. Before that, I was used to the short format of most of the songs we heard on the radio.  

With songs like "Dogs" and its 17 minutes, I discovered the longest tracks, drawers to pieces, and I thought it was great! Later I have accumulated vinyls and cds, but I do not buy many albums now. With an internet connection, you can have access to more music than we could have imagined in a dream at this time. 

 My last recent purchase ... "Five Leaves Left" Nick Drake. Not really a novelty !!!!

What do you expect from music?

Music is an almost vital need for me. I found myself answering the invitation of Miguel Copón and express myself in these pages because I'm guitarist. But deep down, I remain primarily a music lover! I already was very young and playing an instrument came through natural continuity. For my part, there is no precise waiting outside the pleasure of continuing to listen and play music ... on instinct! I live in a small country village, and I'm not a very active social life.  

Apart from my family, I spend most of my time testing various musical things at home or play guitar (and sometimes banjo) within a group comprising several jazz formations formula duo, trio or quartet and I manage with bassist colleague. Despite some extra-musical constraints of a context in total autonomy, this situation leaves me a lot of freedom for the continuation of my musical career. As a listener, I do not seek novelty at all costs. I navigate between eras and styles according to my mood.

Which work of your own are you most surprised by?

If I have preferences for certain albums of a particular artist in my club and my CD collection (and not always for the same reasons), I do not have the necessary perspective to prioritize my work in this way. Many film actors are unable to "travel" as can the public, when they discover their own movies on the big screen. Having knowledge of most of the workings of the planned work, there is no letting go needed to feel the magic. They can not help but observe their defects ... "defects" which incidentally will sometimes just left of the positive aspects of a work for some viewers! To return to my work, the best surprises often come at random times during "live" ... unexpected times that are not linked to anything truly rational! Surprising things can also get from meeting with new musicians.

But to answer the question, I would say my last motivating experience (more than surprising) was influenced by two recent personal events. Last October, I discovered I was looking for a guitar to get me for quite some time, Roland G-808 associated with GR-300 Analog Synthesizer. I started on at the same time a 10-day trip to the United States with my wife. Two things that obviously have nothing to do, but I wanted to see done in years! I met two distinct elements to serve as the basis for one of my first solo projects. A 6 tracks EP will be released soon under the title "Blue Mount."

What's the relevance of technique in music, in your opinion?

The regular practice of an instrument is necessary to move forward and try to play better and better the things we try to express musically. I think we should not focus too much on the technical side alone and focus the work on pieces instead of disembodied practice exercises. I am self taught and I do not read music, so I will not ask me preachy! But personally, I never spend hours unfold ranges or make convoluted digital exercises.  

As during my childhood with film music, these are the albums around me that have guided my instrumental learning, encouraging me to play and try to reproduce (with varying success) what I heard. This method, certainly slower than a conservatory course (and bringing lots of defects for the self-righteous), allowed me to deeply integrate what I could find one. And since no specific criteria imposed on me, I discovered a lot of musicians and styles. The practice in composition is also a great way to play the instrument, creating its own rules. After his career ... everyone! This is what makes the differences is needed.

The technical aspect is not the first criterion that comes into account when you discover an artist who appeals to us. When a guitarist listening another guitarist, the decline is obviously not always easy. Knowing the instrument, it will tend to see certain patterns. The guitar has possibilities and sounds so different, that it is perhaps less true for other instruments. But when I discovered Paul Desmond for the first time, I did not ask. I let transported by his sentences ... exclamation point! The musicians among them-sometimes tend to focus on technical aspects but if asked to draw some of the slapdash a list of 10 musicians that have marked, the result might surprise!

What quality do you admire most in an musician?

I admire a musician who has followed its own path and created his own universe regardless of modes, which sealed the critics, continues to move forward ... with the risk (sometimes independence has a price) to have a chaotic journey. I also admire the insatiable curiosity of some musicians who enjoy string together sometimes in very different projects while keeping their "touch". I had the chance to record with guitarist Noël Akchoté on a duo project. This guy has an open mind ... and it is really tireless :-)

On a more technical aspect, I love musicians who awaken what I would call "my inner dance." I carry a strong interest in the rhythmic aspect of the game, the drive of a musician. When I listen for instance, the Grant Green's gimmicks, I feel as well as installed in an comfortable old armchair!

What’s the difference between a good instrument and a bad one?

I will not be very original in saying that it is primarily the musician who creates the sound of an instrument! There are obviously differences in size between a good quality instrument and a "broom" low end. And like all musicians, I have my preferences in terms of typical technical specificity. I also changed instrument several times over the years. But this is very subjective! Let's say the instrument is more convenient and more one becomes aware of perfectible side of man, which naturally tends to seek the best interpretation possible with the best possible tool. And contrary to what some may carry some forums, the best tool for one is not necessarily for another. I'd say it depends also on the current achievements. If I regularly use my Gibson ES 175 for most of the time my benefits, I sometimes switch instruments following specific projects. A superb guitar luthier may not be appropriate for me the idea of ​​the day when an instrument full of "defects" and harder to play, stick perfectly to what I want to hear at that moment.

What are the challenges and benefits of today's digital music scene?

Some people have not seen the arrival of the digital very positively! I'm not one of those. Having a vinyl 60's or 70's hands is obviously still very nice for a music lover who experienced the music before the digital age (!), But today the digital allows for instant access to all kinds of music. At the time when I started to buy records (and not living in Paris), the choice was rather thin to obtain vinyls. Sometimes it took weeks (and often do a lot of kilometers!) Before you can listen to an album entirely discovered on a radio. The positive aspect was that having in hand little patties at a time, it encouraged us to know each title in the detail! Today, the digital perhaps leads the listener to a curious little less attentive listening face whatever is presented to him, but he at least be spoiled for choice! Moreover, how many talented artists of the time missed the record company's fault or checkmark means. Today a talented musician can communicate with only his guitar and a YouTube account, without making the rounds of majors. Of course, no model is perfect and some voices rise up against such little remuneration paid to artists with the arrival of streaming.  

My personal discography is not very consistent and not being in a frantic sales strategy, I'm not the best person to get into this debate. Personally, I work with both systems ... most of my recordings are available in digital format on digital platforms and physical CDs (small fully managed print self-production). But to return to the music, the advent of digital has also enabled collaboration that would surely not be produced without these new tools. All that appeared for some time with social networks (Facebook, YouTube, Souncloud...) allowed artistic reconciliations

 I was talking about earlier... Noël Akchoté he and I are the same age but we had a different evolution on ways that lead to meetings between musicians. His career, his travels, his projects have enabled him to meet a lot of artists from the very young age. I stayed by choice more sedentary and / or necessity. With today's tools and ease of dissemination, we had the opportunity to record a project together! This shows that physical proximity is no longer the only path to a sharing, collaboration can take place among musicians. Obviously, the "live" game is very challenging and is essential to the evolution of a musician, but I take these new experiences as a great opportunity to open to the world.

Which living or dead artist would you like to collaborate with?

The list is long ... but to play, if only a piece, a duet with Charlie Haden was one of my most beautiful dreams!

You play various styles of music. Do you approach them differently?

I'm not a person to brandish loudly membership in a style! I listened and play all kinds of music for 30 years. At one time, it was mostly for fun (for that matter, but today the conditions are different!) And I had no idea that one day I could become a full time musician. I worked at a company for several years as an industrial designer. On weekends, I played in rock bands, jazz-rock or variety.  

Today I live in my music ... and passion remained intact. This is certainly not now that I am in a partition style! My musical tastes as a listener are very wide and I appreciate being able to listen to a series of bluegrass albums of Tony Rice on Monday, and improvisations by Derek Bailey on Tuesday. Regarding my work, even though I keep a policy in some respects, everything is very open! A project can remain in line with the previous (as the new chapter of a book) and one can take a totally different turn depending on the mood of the protagonists.  

My activity within the group I mentioned earlier and some of my personal projects have me "classified" in a class jazz and improvised music. But it's not something that I think every day. These stories chapels were sometimes bothered me when I saw the musicians become radicalized and claim the importance of their movement (classical, jazz or otherwise) in relation to another. But I do not pay much more attention. I do not make music to belong to a family. And there is no difference of radical approach when I play lead in a jazz trio or when I play the compositions of a polystylistic musician.  

Last December, I had the chance to record again with the mandolin (and banjo player) ligérien Garreau Bruno. His background is very different from mine. It has long played in bluegrass festivals and is very familiar Irish music. We had already met in 2005 for a trio album on which I played the acoustic guitar ("The Gabares" in West label). At the time, I was seduced by his music that synthesized his bluegrass and folk influences and where other colors have appeared ... especially Slavic and Arabist. In December, so we recorded together again. This duo recording is very different from the first ... Bruno wanted a more modern color and incorporate jazz keys. I enjoy this style of approach and an open mind avoiding repeating itself and move forward with motivation!

What instruments and tools do you use?

Most of the time, I use a Gibson ES175 from 1976. It integrates very well in the different groups of the collective jazz I care. I also use other instruments to side projects. When I need a sound, I use my Ovation Classic 1763, a Dupont MD50 or Taylor Jumbo. With Bruno Garreau, it happened to play some concerts with a Washburn Dreadnought from a friend. 

I am also available to the most original guitar sounds like Roland G-808 which I mentioned above or Jerry Jones' Electric Sitar.
I also go out from time to time my old Paramount Banjo Style B from the case.
With the Gibson ES175, I use very little effect ... some reverb on the amp and pedal TC Electronic Flashback Delay or MXR Carbon Copy. Sometimes I triggers a tremolo pedal Tremulus Moon on a title but nothing more. I also have a Xotic BB Overdrive that sounds really good with a Solid body.

What's your best musical experience?

My best experience will be the next to come! 

What projects are you working on now and what does the future hold?

Currently I am on several fronts at once! I finished mixing an EP Blue Songs I just recorded with organist Antoine Hervier and drummer Alban Mourgues ... a new Organ Trio centered in Soul Jazz et Boogaloo. I am also working on a draft of French chansons duet with a singer Françoise Moulineau. I also continue to work on my solo project Blue Mount with the GR300 (2015 year will be decidedly blue!). I will also start collaboration as a duo with another guitarist, Valery Bertrand, prgramming new gigs. This guitar duet context "live", it will be a first for me! Curiously, and I do not understand why I have rarely had the opportunity to play with another guitarist.

I can not say exactly what the future holds for me. I hope to continue to juggle ideas on hold (including a project with a great Gretsch recently tried) and things that arise at random encounters!