Skip to main content

Wednesday, March 14, around midday, as a beautiful, almost spring-like sun shone over the Parisian sky, I received the news that Sylvain Luc had passed away.

What incredible news, and what immense sadness! An exceptional musician and a wonderful man has left us just a few weeks before his birthday: on April 7, he would have been 59.

All those who knew him know that Sylvain was a remarkable man: friendly, modest, generous…

Anyone who heard him live will have been astounded by his musicality, his inexhaustible melodic imagination, his breathtaking rhythmic foundation. For before Sylvain was an outstanding guitarist, he was an extraordinary musician, if only because he had also studied the cello and the electric bass and, as a young man, accompanied his accordionist and drummer brothers to dances in his native Basque country.

The result was an uncommon openness that enabled him, in parallel with a career in jazz, to accompany some French singers.

The first time I saw Sylvain Luc on stage was some thirty years ago at the Théâtre de la Mer in Sète, where he accompanied Eric Lelann. In the middle of a sunny afternoon, an unknown (to me) guitarist was doing his sound check, playing Bach on electric guitar! Needless to say, from that moment on I followed Sylvain‘s career as closely as I could. And, in every context I saw him, he amazed me – and not just me. No audience could resist the charm of a Sylvain concert, whether solo or otherwise.

And the same was true of the musicians with whom he shared the stage. I remember André Ceccarelli – with whom Sylvain and Jean-Marc Jafet had created the Trio Sud – jubilating behind his drums, following the meandering solo in which his guitarist led his two companions.

And – apart from this Trio Sud – it was mainly as a duo that Sylvain Luc made his most memorable records, because for him, music couldn’t exist without sharing. With his 6-string colleagues Biréli Lagrène or Louis Winsberg, with his fellow South-Westerners Bernard Lubat or Michel Portal, with accordionist Richard Galliano, trumpeter Stéphane Belmondo or his guitarist companion Marylise Florid

Sylvain Luc avec Stéphane Belmondo – Remise des Prix de l’Académie du Jazz, le 3 mars 2022. ©Photo Gaby Sanchez pour Couleurs Jazz

In all these contexts, Sylvain‘s virtuoso but unostentatious guitar playing revealed an impressive harmonic ear, an unrivalled mastery of the fretboard, and a capacity for totally unpredictable melodic and rhythmic improvisation, mainly on Godin guitars whose sound is almost acoustic.

With Sylvain’s death, one of the most exciting French musicians on the international jazz scene disappeared. A musician whose career we never tired of following, and who we shall miss immensely, so little were we prepared for him to leave us so soon.

©Photo cover &Header, Patrick Martineau/JzzM

Photo Header 2021 with Birelli Lagrène at Festival de Longjumeau.

Photo cover,January 2024 at Charlie Jazz.

Leave a Reply