French Hammond organ specialist Benoît Sourisse and Belgian-born drummer André Charlier shorten their names to "La Souris" (the mouse) and Le Chat (the cat). It is also the name of the tune in the video above. They form a long-standing duo who are headed for London during the EFG London Jazz Festival for concerts with two completely pivotal figures of our scene, trumpeter Nick Smart and saxophonist Stan Sulzmann. Nick Smart explains the background, and how close and yet how distant the UK and the French scenes are:
We are very lucky at the Royal Academy of Music to regularly do projects with outstanding guest artists, but this EFG London Jazz Festival brings a particularly special collaboration for the department.
The Academy is bringing over leading French jazz duo Charlier/Sourisse. Drummer André Charlier, and organist/pianist Benoît Sourisse, have been writing and performing together for over twenty years; leading their own Charlier/Sourisse projects with guest artists including Kenny Garrett, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Jerry Bergonzi, as well as being the regular rhythm section for legendary French violinist Didier Lockwood.
I am very excited we are bringing these two amazing musicians over from Paris to work with us at the Academy. They write wonderful music, it is complex but still catchy; full of rhythmic and harmonic details whilst remaining melodic enough to be inviting to the listener. These two musicians also happen to be pretty incredible players. After meeting them at a conference in Denmark, I went over to France to play with them as a guest and was blown away; they were all killing. Not only Benoît and André whom I knew already, but also the saxophonist Stéphane Guillaume and guitarist Pierre Perchaud, they were all world-class players and fun to hang with for the week.
It was clear to me that we shared a surprising, mutual lack of awareness about the many wonderful jazz musicians active in our respective home countries. This felt like such a wasted opportunity to be so geographically close to Paris/France, yet so far removed from each others jazz scenes. Now don't get me wrong, I am very well aware that a whole lot of musicians over here DO know what is going on in France, and many great collaborations have already happened, long may this continue of course. But it is still seems to me to be some way off being a widely shared awareness considering they're so close and the music is so happening; and hence this is our little contribution to further build on the strands of a musical bridge across the channel!
As part of André Charlier's and Benoît Sourisse's visit to London, there are two special events in the EFG London Jazz Festival which we're all very much looking forward to. Please come down and have a listen, you won't regret it!
Le Chat & La Souris - one of the tunes (in it's small band form) that we will be playing with the Academy Big Band at the Clore Ballroom
THE FRANGLAIS QUARTET - 606 Jazz Club - Wednesday 18th November
Nick Smart (trumpet)
Stan Sulzmann (tenor)
Benoît Sourisse (hammond organ)
André Charlier (drums)
This specially formed quartet performs a mixture of music by all the members of the group, with plans to do a return gig in Paris in the future.
THE ACADEMY BIG BAND FEATURING CHARLIER/SOURISSE - Southbank Centre RFH Clore Ballroom - Saturday 21st November - 4.00pm
The duo have had some of their repertoire arranged for big band by two wonderful orchestrators, French pianist/composer Carine Bonnefoy, and Belgian trumpeter and Brussels Jazz Orchestra arranger Pierre Drevet. On top of this, to connect the two events together Stan Sulzmann has been commissioned to do one arrangement for this concert that will also feature him as a guest soloist.