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60th Anniversary of the French Jazz Academy

By 12 February 2016June 11th, 2016No Comments

On  June 20, 1955 Martial Solal received the 1st prize of the French Jazz Academy.

60th ceremony French Jazz Academy ©Couleurs Jazz

60th ceremony French Jazz Academy ©Couleurs Jazz

The brochure of the 60th anniversary reminds us that Jean Cocteau wrote at that time : … “Jazz is a pulse. Jazz will be complicated or simplified according to passions. But it is not fashionable. Also I feel that a youth who grows up listening to jazz is different from a youth who grows up with, for example, the rhythm of Viennese waltzes. It is from this angle that it has to be investigated. ”

(1955 – 2015)…

For its sixtieth edition the French  Jazz Academy has awarded  10 new trophies:

  • The Django Reinhardt award (French musician of the year): the 31-year-old pianist Paul Lay

The finalists were: Cécile Mc Lorin Salvant, Andy Emler

Paul Lay & François Lacharme ©Photo Philippe Marchin

Paul Lay & François Lacharme ©Photo Philippe Marchin

  • The « Grand Prix » of the Académie du Jazz (best album of the year): Fred Hersch for his “Solo” album

The finalists were: Stanley Cowell, “Juneteenth,” John Scotfield “Past Present”, Ryan Truesdell / Gill Evans Project “Lines of Color”

  • The French album prize (best album recorded by a French musician or group) to Géraldine Laurent for her album “At Work“.

The finalists were Eric Le Lann, “Life on Mars”; André Villéger / Philippe Milanta “For Duke and Paul”

  • The European Musician Award (awarded for overall career or recent achievements) the multi-instrumentalist John Surman (Sax and reeds)
John Surman © photo Philippe Marchin

John Surman © photo Philippe Marchin

Finalists: Samuel Blaser, Evan Parker

  • The Classical Jazz Award: André Villéger / Philippe Milanta “For Duke and Paul” for Camille Productions / Socadisc

Finalists: François Biensan Octet “Jazzin’Brassens“; Michel Pastre Quintet “Memories of You

  • Jazz Vocal Award: Cécile McLorin Salvant for “For one to love” for Mack Avenue / Harmonia Mundi

Finalists: Linx – Fresu – Wissels / Heartland “The Whistleblowers” Virginia Teychené “Encore”

  • The Soul Price: Tad Robinson with “Day into Night” for Severn Records

Finalists: Bettye LaVetteWorthy“; Mighty Sam McClain & Knut Reiersrud “Tears of the World

  • The Blues Price: Harrison Kennedy for the album “This is from here” with Dixiefrog / Harmonia Mundi

Finalists: Shemekia CopelandOutskirts of Love“; Jackie PayneI Saw the Blues

  • The award for best reissue or best unreleased : Erroll Garner The Complete Concert by the Sea”  by Columbia Legacy / Sony Music

Finalists: Daniel Richard for his work on  Joe Castro’s Lush Life” (Sunnyside / Naïve), Fred Thomas for all his releases on Sam Records

  • The  Jazz Book prize: Julia Blackburn for “Lady in Satin” (Rivage Red / Payot)

Finalists: Aldo Romano Do not play hard, play away,” Richard HaversVerve, the sound of America

Géraldine Laurent & François Lacharme ©photo Philippe Marchin

Géraldine Laurent & François Lacharme ©photo Philippe Marchin

To mark this anniversary, François Lacharme the President and members of the illustrious Academy put on a concert in two parts for the unanimous joy of the 1,600 spectators at the beautiful Théâtre du Châtelet.

The first part : Eight previous winners of  Academy awards: the Django Reinhardt Prize “All Stars” including:

the master of Bebop piano, René Urtreger, 1961 winner ; Eric Le Lann, winner in 1983, trumpet;

Henri Texier, 1977 winner on bass;

Simon Goubert, winner in 1996, on drums, with cymbals perched high;

Pierrick Pedron alto saxophone, double winner in 2006; Stéphane Guillaume also with two awards from the Academy in 2009,  tenor saxophone;


Philippe Milanta ©Photos Couleurs Jazz

Philippe Milanta ©Photos Couleurs Jazz

Finally,  two women: Géraldine Laurent, 2008 winner, alto saxophone;

and the youngest, trumpeter Airelle Besson, winner last year for 2014.


Airelle Besson ©Photos Couleurs Jazz

Airelle Besson ©Photos Couleurs Jazz

8 talents with strong personalities who played for almost an hour, alternating solos, duets, trios, and an octet – pure happiness!

Then, in the second half, just after a stunning solo by the Django Reinhardt prize winner Paul Lay of “Cheek to cheek”, rightly and widely applauded, began …

Le Duke Orchestra ©Photo Couleurs Jazz

Le Duke Orchestra ©Photo Couleurs Jazz

The DUKE ORCHESTRA and special guests, conducted by Laurent Mignard

As at ease and elegant with his baton as he was in his comments to the audience.

Most of the concert was dedicated to  the Duke’s music, both his swinging standards and other compositions less often heard, of great finesse.

Two prestigious guests interspersed their contributions, the British winner of the year, John Surman who interpreted a beautiful “Passion Flower“, and the great undisputed master of electric violin, Jean-Luc Ponty.

Jean-Luc Ponty ©Photo Couleurs Jazz

Jean-Luc Ponty ©Photo Couleurs Jazz

Such elegance and natural virtuosity emanated constantly from this orchestra and its various performers.

Duke Orchestra Line up:
Saxophones – clarinets: Didier Desbois, Aurélie Tropez, Fred Couderc, Carl Schlosser, Philippe Chagne
Trumpets: Claude Egea, Sylvain Gontard, Jérôme Etcheberry, Richard Blanchet
Trombones: Nicolas Grymonprez, Michaël Ballue, Jerry Edwards
Piano: Philippe Milanta
Bass: Bruno Rousselet
Drums: Julie Saury
Direction: Laurent Mignard
San Severino ©Couleurs Jazz

Sanseverino ©Couleurs Jazz



Duke Orchestra 2016 ©Couleurs Jazz

Duke Orchestra 2016 ©Couleurs Jazz

Perhaps all this was missing a bit of madness and humor … Not at all! Not with the last guest, San Severino, who came on stage with his own independent lighting, bringing his sincerity, originality, and bracing and liberating talent, just what we need in this time of self-righteousness, of politically correct and polished taste, when bearded types are even trying to prevent us from going to concerts.

I had a thought for the late cartoonist Cabu, who celebrated his first year in heaven and and was probably having a good laugh!

(As a gift and exclusively for Couleurs Jazz, San Severino in rehearsal, during the sound check.)

Another big thank you to our Academy, whose primary purpose  every year is to shine the spotlight not on the most “bankable” stars, for once, but on truly talented musicians who get their just reward here, as their brothers and sisters in the world of Jazz, equally deserving, sat in the audience. Very different from the “Victoires de la Musique” awards…

And we also salute those institutions and sponsors that help  jazz in so many ways, and in particular the first partner of this birthday party, the BNP Paribas Foundation, which among other actions has supported the Jazz Academy since 2010.


Sans Severino ©Couleurs Jazz

Sanseverino ©Couleurs Jazz


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