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Utopies jazzistiques – Portraits choisis de Thelonious Monk à Michel Petrucciani de Philippe Hansebout – Éditions L’Harmattan, 2023.

Philippe Hansebout discovered jazz at the age of thirteen. It was a revelation and soon became a passion. He listens to radio broadcasts, devours Jazz Hot and Jazz Magazine, attends concerts and eagerly builds up his record library.

Then came the time for conferences and writing, with a funeral tribute to the memory of double bassist Jean-François Jenny-Clark. This will be the first of twenty-three portraits in his book entitled “Utopies jazzistiques“.

The book features first-hand anecdotes and a finely argued analysis of the playing of some of the author’s favorite jazzmen, whose personal tastes led him to the European jazz of the Seventies and Eighties. There are pertinent sections on Martial Solal, Michel Portal and Daniel Humair, whose careers spanned these two decades, as well as on timeless jazz figures such as Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Charles Mingus and Miles Davis. All of them are prefaced by a quotation that sheds light on the musician’s personality. Gérard de Nerval’s strangely premonitory verses, for example, open the chapter devoted to Chet Baker, “El Desdichado”.

Going beyond a strictly jazz framework, considerations on cinema, literature, poetry and philosophy take their place here, giving even greater force to a narrative nourished by the author’s great culture.

Carried by the sensibility of a sincere amateur, this beautifully written work is a pleasure to read and rich in insights. We discover that Sonny Rollins learned the process of continuous breathing from Buster Bailey, a great clarinet stylist who worked in bassist John Kirby’s orchestra in the pre-war years.

The book of a jazz enthusiast.

Editions l’Harmattan (French Edition)

©Photo header Couleurs Jazz

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