In twenty years of career, Laurent Coq has always maintained his independence, in his artistic choices, as in his sometimes abrupt positions on the “Jazz milieu”. His latest album “Kinship”, a tribute to the musicians who make up “his family” is no exception to the rule. The Pianist conceived it, writing ten of the eleven compositions presented (the piece that opens the disc is a collective improvisation), and produced it with his own money. Meeting with a jazzman who, refusing any kind of cliché, displays his fidelity to the fundamental values of jazz – swing, a collective game.
Joshua Crumbly, the bass player, it was the saxophonist Walter Smith III who introduced me to replace Joe Sanders on the European and American tours of “La Suite Lafayette” (album released in 2016). On the other hand, I had not yet played with Johnathan Blake even though we had been talking about it for several years. As for Joshua and Johnathan, they had never played together until our first rehearsal. So it was a very fresh trio that showed up in the studio.
This disc is a tribute to the eleven states who form my musical family (kinship), New York, as in Paris : Sandro Zerafa, Walter Smith, Bruce Barth, Guilhem Flouzat, Mark Turner, Laurence Allison, Miguel Zenon, Ralph Lavital, Jerome Sabbagh, Damion Reid, Guillermo Klein. They each had an influence on my music, my background, and are now part of my DNA. At my side for more than twenty years for some, these ten brothers and one sister inspired me with the music I wrote and the professional decisions I made all these years.
The majority of the musicians live in an increasingly hostile climate, stuck between two poles that have only few elected: the institutional jazz type ONJ which must be “radical” and the jazz TV and TSF compatible, always more watered down. Two opposing movements have fostered this congestion in recent years : the multiplication of places of teaching and the disappearance of a large number of places of diffusion for jazz. Neither the subsidized venues, nor the festivals as a whole – fortunately, there are exceptions – sufficiently reflect the work of young musicians, and the diversity of aesthetics. Overall, unfortunately, it is either ideological or mercantile logic that prevails.
But no, the jazz is alive and well, it is even in full form. That is why the situation is so frustrating.
For some in Europe, he would have definitely freed himself from his black American roots. For others, it owes its salvation only to the intermingling. For my part, the past and present jazz that I prefer always comes from the United States, even if I admire and I am musicians in Europe obviously. I am attached to the fundamentals linked to its history and its development, a certain idea of the pulsation, of the swing, of the sophisticated phrasing without emphasis, a sophistication that also applies to the exchanges, the interplay, the expression of a collective rebound, something very physical before being cerebral. These are fundamentals that can be found in a wide variety of styles and aesthetics, and many of us in France remain attached to them.