ARNAUD QUERCY AFTER THE LOVING: JAZZ!

By likemindblog

Arnaud-1-IMG_0269c 

“I’m from Paris, France. I’ve been living most of my life in France and in the UK. I work in London currently, yet my home and my family is in France since 2001. So I’m by now one of the best customer of the Eurostar…I have many dreams…one would be to have Paris located in the UK…Ok, I give you that, it’s a bit of a silly dream…the next one would be to have a real Piano in the Eurostar… I would definitely enjoy the ride further and eventually learn the Piano much fast…More seriously, I dream of developing myself into an accomplished Piano Jazz Player. It will take years, but I feel this is probably the only way forward for me to find balance. I guess it is never too late to start living one dream…”

Arnaud, welcome and thank you for participating in this project.  I so much appreciate your music and the generosity in sharing you’ve shown me.  I think soon, you’re the one that will be referred to as the EuroStar!  Let us get to it:

No. 1)  What is music to and for you?  (generally and personally)

Music is first about cherished memories of my father. When I was pretty young, I remember symphonies being played on my Dad’s stereo each Sunday mornings, as loud as possible; his way to make sure the whole family would wake up and would have no other choice but to listen to it. And then we were going to church.  My father was a fantastic musician, playing classical music on the piano in his spare time; he also had a phenomenal voice which I keep a moving memory as and when he was singing at church. By the age of 7, I had started music education (had no choice to be honest,Arnaud 1 IMG_0269 my sister and brother had to learn the music too), followed by a couple of years of Piano lessons… there was a particular day that changed my life. I believe I was 9 or 10. It was probably already late in the night as everyone else was sleeping, save me. I eventually decided to check out on the house during the night as most kids do when they simply can’t sleep. To my surprise, I found my father in the living room and listening to music in the headphones.  I was certain to be summoned to bed; yet, to the contrary, he gently asked me if I wanted to share a moment with him. As he laid down the headphones, I was struck by lightning, you know, thunder like in the Greek mythology with some kind of ancient god messing around with me…that god was actually Charlie Parker playing “Lover Man”… I asked him “what is that dad?”…he simply said “the next best thing people do after loving each others, it is called Jazz”. And the evening continued listening to all sort of his Jazz records until dawn…

Music is this to me. It is that magical light that had been switch on by a god (and my father) when I was 10, a light that never stopped lightening my nights and days, every seconds of my life ever since.

No. 2)  What inspires you?

I’m 43, so I was pretty much raised as a kid under the fear installed during the cold war, particularly acute here in Europe when you are a teenager full of anxiety and with a blurred vision of what the future may hold. So beyond Jazz, I’m inspired by the people who have sacrificed their life for our freedom. As a French man, I have an absolute respect for the allied troops who dared landing on the 6th of June 44 in Normandy and liberated my country. I owe them my freedom, full stop. I’m inspired by JFK and by his vision of America, by the bluff of R Reagan who let no choice to the ex Soviet Union but to collapse, I’m inspired by the sacrifices of firemen across the world. As a business man, I’m inspired by entrepreneurs, by their amazing courage in the act of creating value, new services, jobs etc. As a man, I’m inspired by mothers and how most have to reconcile the various challenges of professional life, home, kids etc…so many heroes at home.

I find a lot of inspiration in music of course. My taste has evolved and developed over the years, so has my search for inspiration. I have always remained loyal to beboppers. I’m an absolute fan of Charlie parker, John Coltrane, Dizzie G, Clifford Brown, etc. As a ex. Baritone sax, I was inspired for many years by Gerry Mulligan, Lars Gullin. I started listening to Piano in a much more profound way and interest, almost in a spiritual way when I discovered Bill Evans first and then Keith Jarrett and Michel Petrucciani. I was 19.

Closer to home,  I’m inspired by my older daughter of 13 who is autistic, by every small steps she’s making in learning and developing, I’m inspired by my son of 10 and my younger daughter of 6, I’m inspired by my wife, who carries most of the burden at home, manages to actively work for a major autistic charity in Paris and sings in a gospel choir …I probably love her more everyday passing by (and trust me, the bar was already quite high 16 years ago when we got married)…I’m blessed having them. There’s so much love at home you know, I would be blind not being inspired by them above all. They are the one giving me direction and vision. Not the other way around.

No. 3)  When you are playing (or creating if you’re at that stage) where does it take you?  Where does your mind travel (spirit)?

Playing has taken a different level of meaning lately. When I was a teenager, I played Saxophone everywhere I could and really learnt the instrument with teachers, school etc. This is with the Sax that I first played in bands and on stage by the age of 15. That was so much fun.  I eventually joined Arnaud au piano bR&B, rock’n roll bands and when I was 17, started to be skilful enough to play bop in jazz clubs in Paris. I guess on reflection, this period was much about developing technical skills and having fun. Of course, every musician is trying to express feelings, yet, I’m not sure I ever found the right marks on the sax. I was broke, kind of homeless and joined the Army. When I returned back from service at age 22, I was even more broke than before and definitely left without any gigs.

This is then I took an important decision in my life, which was to drop the idea of music as a career and to get a proper job. It was the right thing to do at that time for me, and to my surprise, I actually enjoyed the career I’ve been pursuing ever since. I’m very successful in the business I’m in, yet I’ve been working in London for many years now, while my family is in Paris (I do the weekly commute). As you can understand, it is hard on the family and also on me as I spend so many evening alone – kind of sacrifice I’m not sure I can stand for the eternity…

Two years ago, a colleague challenged me at the x-mas party and asked me if I would dare playing the Piano on YouTube. I’m a man of challenges, and probably having had a few drinks already, I accepted the challenge to post Piano songs on YT…That actually caught me off guard. Once the festive period was well gone by, I found myself in front of the Piano, and for the first time in 35 years, tried to do something with it, and I knew I would be ridiculous on YouTube…couldn’t reconcile the idea of letting the challenge there. I wanted to show progress, and to see if I could actually play, I mean real play…so the challenge rapidly morphed itself into a major project of mine. It is nothing less than learning the Piano at age 40+ and reaching enough level to jam in jazz clubs 3 years after start…

So after many months now, what you see is what you get. A simple, and genuine representation of my quite recent journey on the Piano (and after countless hours of practicing on the keyboard after work). Playing takes a lot of discipline to me as you can guess…

I must admit that the feedback on YouTube is overwhelming and encourages me to become very serious about it along with discovering the instrument. It is a journey which has just started…but is already so much rewarding.

When I play, my mind drifts in places I went in the past, or in moments I shared with people I love. My mind travels from the special night with my father in the living room listening to Charlie Parker when I was 10, to the Berlin wall and its fall during my service at the Army when I was 20, to the day my wife and I learnt our daughter was autistic when I was 30, to birth of each of child, to the days I enjoy being with my wife,…and eventually as I’m now past 40, I hope to meet Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Hank Jones, Bud Powell, Chick Corea somewhere in the corner of my keyboard. Yet, I guess that I may need another life to find them. But it is worth it.

No. 4)  Do you think music, visual art and health are related and if so, how would you say it is?

I do believe that there is a relation. It is one of a spiritual dimension. The connection is about elevating oneself, a bit like a religious act of aspiring to something good, positive, and one that is demonstrated by the act of creation – of sharing or simply put, the conscious act of turning matter into beauty. I think the right qualifier or relation between the three could be “harmony”, you know, the harmony of sounds, of shapes and colours, of the human body.

No. 5)  How do you feel when you are playing?  (for yourselfarnaud on the sax versus an audience if ever you’ve done a show)

That depends. I usually don’t feel because I play, but rather play because I feel.  If I’m not particularly in a reflective mode immersed by instant feelings (happiness, sadness, etc) but just in a mode of busy business, I may play the piano, but wouldn’t really play it if you see what I mean. The hands and fingers may well do something, but it would not be the real thing. So the real challenge is not the technical side of playing, the challenge is in deciding whether I’m ready to have feelings, and whether I want to share these feelings. I don’t usually need too much time to immerse myself with emotions, they come along pretty rapidly. But if they fail to pop up, then I better use my time practicing scales or do something else. When I feel there’s something I can share, real emotions, then I tend to think this is when music becomes my magical wand, the language I can use to better connect with others.

No. 6)  Under what conditions do you work best?

I work very well under stress, I love challenges and deadlines. These help me to focus and to exclude ambient noises or any matter that could eventually come in the way. However, these challenges need to be inspiring. Without inspiration, I’m useless.

No. 7)  Do you identify with your music and if so, on what level?

Oh yes I do…music is an extension of my mind, it’s pretty much in my genes by now so can’t really think of myself as an individual without thinking music is part of who I’m.

No. 8)  Does playing piano help you connect with your higher self, whatever that may be for you?

I think the Piano gave me something which I didn’t find with the Sax. Something was missing back then…you know, the connection with the instrument it is like a couple stories. One fell in love and get married, and most of the time, you hope it will be for the rest of your life….yet I discovered when I was 40 I was missing…I somehow decided to rebuild my music life with another instrument, the Piano. I think I’m just at the beginning of consolidating that decision, finding it possible and eventually accessible. I guess it started with the dream of infinite harmonic possibilities the Piano offers, its sound, etc…I just fell in love with it. You can’t explain love rationally. I guess it is better that way also.

No. 9)  How do you feel about creativity in the public school arnaud building the tree housesystems?

I never actually thought of associating creativity with public school system…on reflection, I think there could be different levels of responses to this question. First one is at the level of the system as a whole; I don’t believe a public system is the best model to nurture creativity. It comes down to the staff and people working within simply find too many barriers to create themselves and/or would not be rewarded in their career for doing so (that is my perception, apologies if I’m completely wrong)…yet public schools compete with each others and one could always imagine a school that bets on developing a bit more the arts and creativity of their kids above the crowd…I never found one myself.

In the country ‘m from, it gets worse as kids get older. The academic programs increase their focus and time on teaching fundamentals like maths, sciences, language, history etc – not enough time in kids agenda to spend enough time on Arts or sports… I believe the system is simply not thinking outside of the box and relies too much on theoretical knowledge instead of nurturing creativity. Our kids should also learn how to think outside of the box, not only you would eventually help Artists emerging, but for the society, the real benefit is in the economic return as they grown up and end up developing business ideas. As I eluded earlier, I find inspiration in entrepreneurs who manage to create value out of nowhere. This is what schools should prepare our kids to do.

No. 10)  In your opinion, what could be a simple solution to improve creativity in the public school systems?

I don’t believe there’s a simple solution as it lies with the culture of the country, and the value the society put in the act of creation and then in how much the society is ready to fund it via the school system…Provided the society would truly endorse a shift in priorities, a solution would require the reshuffling of the programs to add time for Arts at the expense of other matters…and couple it with an overall career development program for Art teachers that reward them by the way the effectively manage to inspire kids in the act of creation…I think that is a long shot…

No. 11)  What is jazz for you?

It is a language, a spiritual language. It transmits emotions, real time, unprecedented, re-invented every time. It is the most accomplished modern form of music where time (tempo) and space (harmonics) meet in an improbable collision of beauty. What jazz truly is the art of improvising…

No. 12)  How do you feel about improvisation?

Technically speaking, I feel challenged. There isn’t any other human task I know that is most complex to realise real time. The result needs to be delivered at the speed of light, not only by wiring the musician brain to his fingers to allow his mind to speak out, but to allow the mind of the musician to connect with others playing along. All of that in perfect harmony and with the right tempo. Sounds like a challenge to me 😉

Artistically speaking, improvisation is a way to see through the musician. I tend to feel like once the musician is starting to improvise, he is naked. All barriers have to fall as there are no real other options. Of course there’s the canvas of the song providing a pre-established technical suites of chords coupled generally with the rhythmic understanding between the musicians beforehand…yet, a true Jazz improvisation will deliver a  message that no other musician wrote before. A genuine and unique act of creation.

No. 13)  Do you think establishments where there is live music,Arnaud au piano should have a section reserved for people who want to talk and another for people who actually want to listen to music?

That depends upon what the establishment is trying to be. If the music is the primary purpose of the establishment (ie. a proper Jazz Club), then whatever happens, the section for the concert needs to be sanctified, dedicated to the music and no one should mess around with it. Silence sounds very good to me. If the establishment can accommodate to ring fence chatters and noisy guests, perfect.

Establishments that do not offer a choice (can’t or wouldn’t accommodate sections) make a sacrifice. And that sacrifice is music. The benefit is then elsewhere.”

Arnaud, again thank you.  You’ve shared so much with us, I feel certain all who read this article will learn a great deal.  Until our paths cross again, I wish you all the best in your endeavours!  Be blessed.

TO THE READER : 

Your comments are always very much appreciated, thank  you so much.  You are cordially invited to visit Arnaud’s links and hear more of his music. Enjoy!
http://www.facebook.com/arnaud.quercy.jazz
http://www.youtube.com/user/querar1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aO6skMbwKas
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijDAN8ZX7Y0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AvQObR6pZM

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Filed in: MUSIC • Friday, May 6th, 2011

Comments

Just when you think the world is going to hell in a hand basket you run across someone who is truly believable and inspiring with their openness and love for their family, country… thank you for that and sharing your talent…great video…

 

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About

My name is Michele Andree. I am an artist, I paint musicians in action. I think I’m a musician at heart, my instrument being… a brush, so I play…brush and I paint… music.
I love jazz. I call it freedom music. It promotes special values. I love intelligent people and good conversations.

Some people ask me how music relates to art. Personally I find they go hand in hand. Music is what turns me on to painting. It makes me see colours