ERIC LEGNINI — WAXX UP Upcoming album release date March, 17th 2017
"Pianists and guitarists don't always mix well," Eric Legnini says. There can even be a kind of competition in the air between these two instrument worlds, these two mini orchestras on their own, these two popular technical tools that everyone has tasted at one time or another. However, it is far from being his case, says the Belgian: on his side, relations are rather good - even if, he confesses in a loud laugh, that he is only a "poor guitarist" who can only play "three poor Brazilian chords". But it must be said that the native of Huy (near Liege) grew up with a father who was a fan of Django Reinhardt: "there were always some that resonated in the house", he recalls. And then, along the way, Eric Legnini met some of the best specimens of the genus. Whether with the pillar of the Plat Pays Philip Catherine or the legend Toots Thielemans, harmonica player of course, but also skillful six-stringed player.
With Six Strings Under, the pianist accomplice of Joe Lovano, Claude Nougaro, Stefano Di Battista, Aka Moon, the Belmondo brothers or Ibrahim Maalouf certainly decides to make a kind of declaration of love for this instrument that has rocked him all his life. But not only that: in addition to a nod to the famous series Six Feet Under, of which he is a fan, this album marks a return to acoustic and instrumental formats, two areas that he had left for several years to focus on more electric and full of vocal guests: the trilogy The Vox - Sing Twice - Waxx Up with Hugh Coltman, Mamani Keïta, Yael Naïm or Krystle Warren. "It's both a continuity, because I haven't changed my way of writing, very melodic. But it was also a break with the past that brought me a breath of fresh air and new ideas for composing. »
About the continuity, Six Strings Under features the double bass player of two of these sung adventures, Thomas Bramerie, a twenty-year-old friend with whom he was already played in 2008 on the famous Belmondo & Milton Nascimento. On the other side, about the break-up, here he is, recording for the first time with two guitarists he likes: Hugo Lippi, whom he has known since the legendary Nuits Blanches du Petit Opportun in the mid-1990s. "Even back in the days of Big Boogaloo (2006), I had invited him to concerts with Julien Lourau and Stéphane Belmondo. He is a fantastic musician, I love his sensitivity and his incredible knowledge of standards. ».
The second virtuoso of the six-strings album, Legnini met him about fifteen years ago. The masterpiece of gypsy jazz, Rocky Gresset - in spite of himself - pushed the Belgian pianist to change his way of working: "he doesn't read music, he plays everything by ear, it's almost my opposite because I have a very classical culture: conservatory solfeggio- writing-arrangements. We spent a lot of time together so I could teach him the songs. It was a very rewarding work in progress! »
In Six Strings Under, the winner of the 2011 Victoire du Jazz Award for "Best Album of the Year" wants to celebrate the guitar in all its forms. Not only because of the art of standards dear to Thomas Bramerie or Hugo Lippi (as in the classic of the 1930s, "Stomping at the Savoy"). Not because of the gypsy spirit that Rocky Gresset embodies like no other. There are Afrobeat guitars in the Fela style ("Boda Boda"), pop guitars in the Radiohead style ("Daydreaming") or bossa guitars in the Jobim style ("La Mangueira" composition dedicated to her Brazilian friend and accomplice Marcia Maria who disappeared in 2018).
Better still: there is even a miniature mass dedicated to English rock guitars... but without a guitar! On the cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity", Eric Legnini plays it almost solo: "That was the challenge: I wanted a slow and bare version. But I also wanted to be as closely as possible to the melody and its original interpretation. »
This record is, finally, also and above all a real Proust madeleine for the Belgian fan of the "feeling of space" that the piano-double bass guitar format provides. "The interplay is very different because usually it is often the drums that take the hand in a group. "In his early days, the three pianists he preferred, at least the three pianists he admired most, his true "masters of thought", were precisely those who magnified this canonical formula: Nat King Cole, Oscar Peterson and Ray Charles. As if by chance, two singers and a very great voice escort: like what, even when he doesn't use the voice, Eric Legnini is always focused on it.