September 27, 2019
“Spirit of the waterfall” – A new oneiric jazz album by J. Sebastien Simonoviez and Jakob Dinesen
A key player in the international jazz scene, and after more than twenty-five years of intensive production, Jean Sebastien Simonoviez has many records to his credit, all either recorded under his name, in a duet or with various groups, but each corresponding to his particular style.
After his excellent last album Ballade in Vietnam (2015), in collaboration with his daughter Clara Simonoviez, he has re-emerged today with ‘Spirits of the Waterfall’ an album released with the Danish Jazz saxophonist Jakob Dinesen, mixing saxophone, trumpet and piano that should quickly put you on a sonic exploration.
“You cannot define music; it is a universe in itself that offers all possibilities of approach.” (Jean Sebastien)
“Love? I guess it’s my aesthetic”: it’s the energy that binds everything together. Every person, in everything he/she does, expresses a little bit of that love in their own way “says Jean Sébastien when we spoke with him about his musical creations. “We cannot define music; it is a universe in itself that offers all possibilities of approach”.
We can find this faith in unconditional love all throughout his career. His melodies provide a sense of “joie de vivre” which has always been present and as expected is there in his latest release.
“With Jacob Dinesen, it was an incredible encounter. It happened very spontaneously and naturally. A friend put us in touch in Bangkok, we did a duo concert and Jacob proposed to me a recording session in a studio in Ekkamai. And just like that we recorded the album in a few hours. Sometimes the connection is straightforward, but that’s pretty rare.”
The result is an album full of non-temporal beauty, a vibrant tale with a distinct atmosphere of intimate and dreamy poetic ballads, with moments of trances and rhythmic storms followed by a hypnotic groove.
Jean Sebastien was born in Caen in a household with a father in love with Bach’s music, and a mother who was an amateur pianist who played Chopin. He later grew up in the south of France in Avignon. At home, one of his brothers, who is also a pianist, studied Debussy, but also played all kinds of music from Scott Joplin to Dave Brubeck. At the tender age of 5 Jean Sebastien began to study the piano and at 7 years old it was a love at first sight with Louis Armstrong and jazz in general that plunged him into the study of the trumpet.
At the age of sixteen, he created his first band and discovers John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans. 1986 was the year that saw his first recording “Trio Soma Tacha”.
From 1990 various concerts and records continued and he met musicians such as Alain Jean Marie, Michel Grailler, Siegfried Kessler or the English saxophonist Peter King, Tony Moreno, Jame Cammack, Ari Hoenig or still Essiet Essiet, in Europe and New York where he lived.
Back in France the album “Transe Lucide” was released in 1991 with JJ Avenel and Tony Moreno, (newly released for the second time in Indonesia) followed by “Winds and tides” in solo in 2003, “Crossing life and strings” in 2009 which allowed him to integrate the famous label ECM, or “Ballade in Vietnam“ in 2015 with his daughter Clara and Quốc Đạt with the bass guitar.
At the height of his art, adored by its fellow artists and coveted by concert organizers, Jean Sébastien today juggles between a multitude of performances in the world but he manages to always return to Ho Chi Minh City where he has been based for the last 5 years. In HCMC he enjoys performing occasionally with the excellent Mekong Delta Big Band at Evita or to play with Tran Manh Tuan one of the most prominent saxophonists currently in Vietnam at the Sax n Art Jazz club,
When we ask him what was the life of a composer like, he humbly answered “that it is sometimes quite original: a composite between what is happening outside and his inner vision”. The search for the absolute through a relative world is present in Jean-Sébastien. For him, nothing is ever fixed and determined just like the universe, which is in constant ebullition, a bit like our dear and sweet timeless Saigon.