Executive production - Laurent Bizot
Artwork - Florent Groc
Design - Element(s)
All compositions by Fidel Fourneyron
except Kabiosile (Saludo a Changó)
composed by Fidel Fourneyron and Thibaut Soulas
and Resistir composed by Thibaut Soulas
Published by Nø Førmat!
Adonis Panter Calderon: Congas, batà drums on Kabiosile
Ramon Tamayo Martinez: Congas, batà drums on Kabiosile
Barbaro Crespo Richard: Congas, cajon, and batà drums on Kabiosile
Elie Duris: drums
Thibaud Soulas: double bass
Bruno Ruder: Fender Rhodes
Fidel Fourneyron: trombone
Aymeric Avice: trumpet
Hugues Mayot: tenor saxophone
Benjamin Dousteyssier: alto & baryton saxophone
Recorded at Midilive Studios, Villetaneuse, on May 21 to 24, 2018,
by Pierre Favrez, assisted by Manuel Aragon.
Mixed by Pierre Favrez - B media
Mastered at Biduloscope Mastering, by Benjamin Joubert.
Musical direction: Fidel Fourneyron and Thibaut Soulas
Artistic direction: Clément Petit and Laurent Bizot
Executive production: Laurent Bizot
¿Que Vola? “What’s up?” That’s what Cubans like to say when they greet each other. They like it so much that the expression has become a kind of verbal gimmick in the heavily musical Spanish spoken on the island. ¿Que Vola? is also the name of a unique musical project that brings a French jazz septet, assembled by Fidel Fourneyron, together with three young and highly-skilled Cuban percussionists who are as brilliant at the art of summoning Afro-Cuban divinities as they are at vibing up the clubs of La Havana, where they play their raucous rumba.
It’s not the kind of musical encounter you can build in a day. And it starts with journey, that of Fidel Fourneyron, who travelled to Cuba in 2012 to find out more about the country that inspired his name. He took his trombone along with him, and one address: Calle Luz - the street of light. That was the drop-point suggested to him by his double-bass playing friend Thibaud Soulas, who lived there for a while, plunged into the music, immersed himself in the life, and came back with new friends, among them, three Afro-Cuban percussionists. Fidel follows in his footsteps, all alone, going over the same ground, initiating himself in the rhythms of rumba with Barbaro Crespo Richard, aka ‘Barbarito’, the youngest of a dangerous trio of hitters in the famous orchestra Osain del Monte. Above him there’s Adonis Panter Calderon, whom all Havana recognises as the most talented of his generation. Just like his friends, the third knave, Ramon Tamayo Martinez, is steeped in sacred rhythms, the rhythms of the Afro-Cuban cults that invite the gods of Africa down to dance here among us humans. That’s what the drums and voices are for: to saturate the air with the sacred in order to liberate the energy of the living, who don’t just listen, but actually ‘live’ the music by taking part in it. Fidel, a member of France’s National Jazz Orchestra, was entering a world where music, body and spirit are one. More than enough to trigger new dreams and open up new perspectives.
And what if a brass section were to replace the voices of that sacred music, and converse with the bata drums in their place? Then all would it take for ¿Que Vola? to germinate is a spark. Xavier Lemettre, director of the Banlieue Bleues Festival in Paris, supplies it, proposing to Fidel Fourneyron that he turns his idea into a reality, on stage.
With Thibaud Soulas at his side, the trombonist dives back into the labyrinth of rhythm that accompanies the spiritual cults: the rhythms of the Regla de Ocha, of the Palo or of the mysterious Abakua brotherhood. And of the rumba too, popular and profane, that Adonis and his friends play with total mastery. They formulate a repertoire that reflects the immense variety of all those rhythms and sacred chants. At the end of 2017 they return to La Havana to link up with their Cuban friends. Fidel records, and starts to compose, superimposing melodies and arrangements over the sacred rhythms. He and Thibaud Soulas surround themselves with talented French jazzmen, many of them from the band Radiation 10. The Cubans join them in Paris. A dialogue is woven; the magic glides.
Magic. The word won’t seem far-fetched when you hear how the percussion irradiates the seven pieces on this album with its magnetic power. The brass and the wind (Fidel Fourneyron, Aymeric Avice, Benjamin Dousteyssier & Hugh Mayot) soar with as much class as poetry, high above the earthy throb of the sacred drums, which the kit drums of Elie Duris burst over, thereby opening up other possibilities. The Fender Rhodes of Bruno Rhodes allows its mysterious ambiguities to glide over the songs, as enigmatic as the smile of Eleggua, the god that opens up pathways. As for the double bass of Thibaud Soulas, it just keeps talking to the percussion, in a conversation that’s as gripping as it is absorbing.
You could listen to the entire journey as if it was a ceremony, whose trajectory brings you closer and closer to the beating heart of this musical encounter. It opens with a prologue (‘Kabiosile – Saludo a Changó’) in which brass and wind ‘sing’ a salutation to Changó, god of lightning. And it finishes with ‘Resistir’, an epic piece that seems to go back over the long history of the Afro-Cubans, a history strewn with light and shadow, with chains and tears broken by the resilience of a people, opening up the pathways to its own liberty through music. Between them, the journey. ¿Que Vola? often assumes the haunting colours of trance, enveloped with a poesy plucked from the bi-ways along which John Coltrane loved to roam.
So don’t be astounded if, as you listen to them, or see them on stage, you catch your feet moving. These musicians give off an energy that makes it hard to resist. That’s where the strength of this project lies, and its novelty too. So, all in all, to answer to that question “what’s up?”: