Artist : Jacques Pellarin Trio
Album : Karenita
Released Date : November, 2010
It always gives you something different when connected to French in many ways. Try listening to any French songs or watching any French movies and you will know what we’re talking about. It’s like a simple tell-it-like-it-is as they usually give a unique cinematic and a musical experience which are not only meant to entertain but also want to express their artistic touch in pure honesty. Watching a French movie is like watching yourself, your daily activities that aren’t always filled with the “cliché” conflicts all the time. The same thing goes when listening to French music. The imagination from it is different. You can never avoid your imagination about Waltz, summer in Paris, people greet Bonjour! to you while passing by. It’s often difficult to bag the French music into any particular box of genre. But uniquely, jazz has always been the perfect companion to it, often completing each other, creating the whole new level of musical experience. Unfortunately we don’t find this often in the current music scene. We miss it from time to time. What could be better than having the real French to bring the real nuance of Paris’ romanticism? Thank God for having Jacques Pellarin and his group, Jacques Pellarin Trio. They stunned us a year ago with the album which took a visit to American music, more specifically the Sound of Philly entitled “Sound of Philadelphia.” (Check out the review here)
Jacques Pellarin is different. He’s one of the greatest accordions in the world today, more specifically Bayanist. When listening to his music, you will grab the thick jazz nuance all over it, but you’ll be surprised by knowing that he actually first started his musical experience with classical music. Just about 7 years ago he found his passion to explore more into jazz composition. This came with a gratitude working with what Jacques called a jazz dream team with his les deux compagnons: Diego Fano (saxophone, clarinet), and Yann Pajean (percussions). Their chemistry is just awesome, just like they have been doing this for decades. Appearing minimalist with only by a group of three really requires a tight connection and bond in harmony to one another. And this trio has it. After giving the Philly nuance in the previous album successfully, they are now sailing into a new, wonderful, and adventurous journey with the newest one, “Karenita”.
The title “Karenita” itself is taken from the name of a sailboat “Karenita”, once belonged to a legendary Hollywood actor, Errol Flynn. Using this name as the title, Jacques and his trio sail a voyageour journey visiting the beautiful French cinematic world to the wonders of Latin music. We can feel the gleeful and cheerful ambiance with minimalist sound in this album. It’s minimalist by using a small size of formation, but yet they have successfully captured a very special kind of vibe and brought it sincerely to us. The trio lets the music flow, sailing free from one adventure to another, and inviting you to be in. Jacques has shared what was filling his mind when he composed the songs for the album. “Only two big ways: Latin flowers and French cinema flowers. With Karenita , I wanted to find a sound that speaks about the The South Seas.” Said Jacques. As the result, this “sailboat” album will take you directly into some magical moment in history. The magical Latin music world, the medieval Celtic ages, to the American music, funk and Philly sound. They really know how to have fun with musical experiments to create something rare for us to listen, the authenticity, the purity, the honesty, along with the stunning explorations. All said, and Voila! “Karenita” is born, made delicious just like a mille-feuilles cake, two different, pleasing substances, pastry and cream but served in many layers.
Let’s have a journey to this album. It starts with “Sambayana”. With the intro of bayan, who would have thought Jacques could bring the delightful samba by using classical accordion? At first, you can hear the intense sounds of saxophone and accordion from Diego Fano and Jacques Pellarin, with the background of percussion. Then suddenly, Yann Pajean takes turn with his percussion, playing in a dynamic rhythm that will make you start moving your body and dance. It’s like delivering hot Brazilian Samba in French style. “It’s my devotion for the great Jazz pianist Michel Petrucciani, and my love for Brazilian music generally “said Jacques. “Corinazon” is a very special love song where Jacques dedicates it to his wife, Corinne. He brings his feeling out through the sweet, calm, and relaxing bossa. If you close your eyes while listening to this song, you will feel the deepest love of a man to his wife. It’s so sweet.
“Chacun son monde” brings a theatrical kind of French Jazz. As a fan of composer, Kurt Weill and theatre director, Bertolt Brecht who were famous with their fruitful collaborations during the 20’s, Jacques made this song as a tribute to the scene, picturing the economic crisis known as the Great Depression which happened during that period of time and also the actual world’s economic crisis we suffer today. A touch of satyr in this song explains that bitter reality. “Romananche” is a song inspired by the nature and the life in the Bugey (Savoie)’s vineyards. The medium waltz song interprets the vintage side of France very well. The tingle-ing sounds from Yann Pajean’s carillon instrument gives an additional perfection of this classical French song. “Rodeo Latino” captures the exotic nuance of the beautiful Costa Rica beaches “This song was born so quickly”, Jacques recalled. It’s fresh and uplifting.
Based on the name of the studio of composer Chris Orazi in New Jersey where the trio recorded “Sound of Philadelphia “ in 2008 came the inspiration of “Union Road”. This song brings the medium groove beat artistically. Also, compared to other songs in this album, this song feels different. You can feel the “Sound of Philly” in this one, especially by the wild jazzin’ saxophone exploration by Diego Fano. In the middle of the song, the cool percussion run shows the musical enthusiasm of the trio during their recording and tour in Philadelphia. Not only bringing the flashback, but it’s a good chance for us to once again listen to the taste of Philly sound from them.
Get ready to sail freely, because “Karenita” is up next. This title track is inspired by the name of the famous sailboat that once belonged to Errol Flynn as we’ve mentioned earlier. The fast tempo from the beginning describes the deep blue ocean under a clear blue sky?a perfect weather for sailing! The smooth sound of saxophone reminds us of the sea breeze that blows on our face, along with the seagulls flying free in the sky. Then the fast tempo is back again like challenging rolling waves against your boat. Free your mind and enjoy the sailing with Jacques Pellarin Trio, until you reach the Celtic lands on the next song, “Comme par enchantement”. The opening of the song will remind you of the medieval Celtic time. Tambourine adds up the atmosphere even better. When the fast tempo dominates, simply all you can do is tap your feet and do the Irish dance! It’s a wonderful landscapic composition where Jacques and the trio bring the listeners to enter their Celtic world of art in magic. “Song for Co” is a mixture of the Argentine tango and Cuban rumba in perfect blend. Once again, Jacques really lets us know how much he loves Latin music, and I bet you’ll lose yourself most instantly when listening to it! It’s another masterpiece from them.
If you love the French cinematic experience in the 70’s, “My Street Corner” brings the scene on perfectly. With the sound of accordion that has been flavoring French movies for ages, they take us to “watch” their musical artistry. The mood raised intensely on this one until it reaches climax with a happy ending, just like how the movie runs. Jacques’ fondness of the French movies in the 70’s especially the movies directed by Claude Sautet like “Vincent, François, Paul et les autres” or “Max et les Ferrailleurs” has become the inspiration for him to write this one. If you love French movies, you’re going to enjoy this song so much.
It’s time to do the Samba! “Accordeao do Sul” allows us to celebrate life in musical way. Listen to this Brazilian samba and let your soul free! “Brazil, always Brazil, and Samba and Accordion are those good mixes to celebrate the life.” Jacques said. Indeed it is. A very interesting song comes as the end of the whole new presentation. It’s the “Latin-Blues”, a combination of samba and funk, the chilling vintage 60’s Latin with the American sound. The sound of electric bass from Renaud Bourquard gives more modern approach on this song, and the delightful vibraphone play from the US composer, Chris Orazi gives the vintage jazz nuance. As the result, you will revisit the moment when bossa/samba was just arrived in US in the early 60’s, and when the sound of vibraphones led many songs during that period. The quintet translates the delicious Latin jazz in American’s style. It’s such a perfect song to close the album. This song will also be the first taste for us to see how remarkable this quintet is before we have their full album in 2012.
By the inspiration of freedom from Latin music, and non-cliché of French cinema, “Karenita” is joyful, fun, yet artistic. “Karenita” lets you enjoy the music freely and honestly, sailing your soul to the adventurous musical experience. This album will let you sail and land to many beautiful areas back in time, from the magical Latin worlds, the medieval Celtic ages, 70’s French cinematic experience, to the early collision between bossa/samba and American funk. Amazingly, the album let you create your own imagination and interpretation that need not any justification from others’ opinions. It’s your heart to decide, whatever you imagine and what kind of adventure you want to be involved. As the Karenita owner, Errol Flynn once said,
“One ship sails east, the other west,
by the self same winds that blows.
It’s the set of the sails, and not the rules,
that decides the way to go.”
Never let the musical rules narrow your imagination. This album is ready to let you sail freely everywhere you want to go. It’s a wondrous voyageur adventure sets by Jacques Pellarin Trio, and they are inviting us to join in. Jacques Pellarin Trio’s “Karenita”, again, is marvelous.
Jacques Pellarin Trio are:
Jacques Pellarin (Bayan and Composition)
Diego Fano (saxophone)
Yann Pajean (percussion instruments)
3. Chacun son Monde
5. Rodeo Latino
6. Union Road
8. Comme par Enchantement
9. Song for Co
10. My Street Corner
11. Accordeao do Sul
12. Latin – Blues