Music

Jacky Terrasson: A Paris

Vincenzo Martorella

Jacky Terrasson

A Paris

Label: Blue Note
US Release Date: 2001-02-27
Amazon
iTunes

It would be easy to say that Jacky Terrasson's new record is a sort of American in Paris: French songs and immortal melodies played by the means of an American music sensibility. But it's not that easy. Because the New York-based pianist extraordinaire Jacky Terrasson, who was born in Berlin to an African American mother and a French father, was raised in Paris, and actually left the "City of Lights" just 11 years ago, to move to the Big Apple.

So, he sought inspiration from that songs he grew up with, from childhood through adulthood, depicting an astonishing journey into the history of French popular songs. And it is his emotional approach that makes his music so tender and touching.

"What I've done on this album is the exact same process that jazz musicians have followed with American songs: take the melody and improvise on it", Terrasson says. But, also in this case, it's not as obvious as it seems. All the magic on A Paris is in the uncanny ability of the pianist to rearrange the songs, covering them with surprising new harmonic and rhythmic clothes.

The album opens with a traditional French song, a lovely ballad called "Plaisir d'amour", popularized by Edith Piaf, that Terrasson translates using a Keith Jarrett-like idiom, with a beautiful interplay between him and his rhythm section (Leon Parker on drums and Ugonna Okegwo on bass). All of Terrasson's phrases are round and soft. Forget the angular improvisations and percussive lines you've heard in his previous records: it's the melody that rules.

After another ballad ("Les chemins de l'amour", written by noted French classical composer Francis Poulenc), Terrasson explodes his visionary side playing a rollicking version of "Jeux Interdits" ("Forbidden Games", a popular French-film theme of the Fifties, written by the Spanish-born classical guitarist Narciso Yepes). "Everyone in France knows this song", Terrasson explains. "In fact, it's one of the first tunes you learn to play on the guitar. My approach is one of revenge. I've heard it so many times I had to put a totally different twist on it". And he did! The tune is ferocius, played with great intensity by Italian saxophonist, now Paris-based, Stefano Di Battista, Rémy Vignolo on bass and Terreon Gully on drums. Terrasson's solo recalls McCoy Tyner's powerful style, and the tune has an unmistakable John Coltrane flavor.

Other highlights in this highly recommended record are the renditions of the French national anthem ("La Marseillaise", turned in a smooth little waltz, with beautiful chord substitutions), and of one of the most popular songs written by Charles Trenet, "Que reste-t'il de nos amours" (known in the States as "I Wish You Love"), in which Terrasson, along with guitarist Bireli Lagrene and Rémy Vignolo, plays a swinging moderate tempo on a crunchy Fender Rhodes electric piano.

Last, but not least, "I Love Paris in the Springtime". Terrasson had opened his first Blue Note album with this Cole Porter's classic; after seven years, the arrangement is funkier, laying on a solid bass groove, marking a new point of view about the idea of rhythm.

With his beutiful, and singable, melodies, nice arrangements and very cool playing, A Paris stands as Terrasson's masterwork. Très beau, messieurs, très beau...


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Music

The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.