Emile Parisien soprano saxophone
Vincent Peirani accordion
Abrazo. Embrace. Sometimes that of one’s dance partner, sometimes a fraternal hug. Can there be a better image for the duo composed of accordionist Vincent Peirani and soprano saxophonist Emile Parisien?
“It’s like a marriage,” says Peirani, “with ups and downs, but what could be more normal? But right now, we really want to play together.”
There are probably few musicians who know each other as well as Peirani and Parisien. They have given over a thousand concerts together in the past ten years, more than six hundred of them as a duo.
They met in 2010 in the quartet of drummer Daniel Humair. It was during a concert in Korea with the latter that they also had the opportunity to play together in duo for the first time.
A first time that was not very engaging, according to the two protagonists, who describe it as “a disaster!”
Shortly after that, at a French festival, they renewed the experience, before forming what is probably one of the most extraordinary ensembles in European jazz.
In 2014 their first album, “Belle Epoque”, was released on the ACT label.
From then on, everything moved very swiftly. In a matter of just a few months, they found themselves playing in the major concert halls and festivals of France and Germany, then around the world – in Asia, Latin America, the United States, Canada and the whole of Europe. As well as at internationally famous classical venues, such as the Berlin, Hamburg, Essen and Vienna Philharmonic societies. International prizes soon followed: the Echo Music Award for Jazz from the Deutsche Phono-Akademie, Les Victoires du Jazz in France, the German Record Critics’ Award, as well as awards from many major jazz magazines.
“Belle Époque” was a tribute to the soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet, one of the great jazz stars of the early Twenties and a master of melody.
Peirani and Parisien took almost six years to imagine a follow-up.
“Abrazo” is not inspired by the work of a composer but by an art form, a culture: tango, its elegance, its melancholy and the power of its rhythms and melodies. As on their first duo recording, Peirani and Parisien do not play the material of the originals, but they play around with it. Pieces written by masters of South American influence such as Astor Piazzolla, Tomás Gubitsch or Xavier Cugat are only part of the repertoire. The compositions of Parisien and Peirani develop in the tango spirit, like the arrangement of “Army Dreamers” by Kate Bush, whom Peirani deeply admires. The opening track, “The Crave” by American pianist and bandleader Jelly Roll Morton – one of the most influential jazz musicians of the early twentieth century – creates an amazing bridge between the previous album and this one. It seems that “Abrazo”, after “Belle Époque”, is the second part of a series, and indeed if we listen to the two albums one after the other, we notice that they blend quite surprisingly.
What binds all these different elements together is the deep affinity that is so obvious between Peirani and Parisien. It stems from the incredible finesse of their interactions and the exceptionally innovative approach they both have to their instruments.
There is something here that is completely magical.
It appears that the ingredients for this hypnotic potion could come from anywhere: traditional or modern jazz, free avant-garde, classical, folk, rock, electronic, music new or old – the thirst for novelty, the desire for adventure seem insatiable.
It is that boundless curiosity, that desire to grow together and climb to ever new heights that bind together the duo Peirani & Parisien and make it so unique.