by Cyn Collins
Alliances continue to form and endure as world-renowned innovative musical pioneers from France, England, Brittany and across America perform in powerful collaborations with our local jazz, electronic, funk, hip-hop and spoken word artists. This year’s Second Annual Sur Seine Festival (Oct. 14–23) has expanded to pull together over 20 artists from diverse genres and cultures.
all began when Jean Rochard, Sur Seine co-director and French Nato Records producer,
first came to Minneapolis in 1990 from Paris to work on Oyaté, a project
bringing together American Indian poets, musicians and British keyboardist/composer
Tony Hymas (Jeff Beck). Stemming from Oyaté is the politically inspired
American Indian/European band Left for Dead, named after a poem for Leonard
Peltiér written by bandleader Barney Bush, a Shawnee poet from New Mexico.
Additional Left for Dead performers include Edmond Tate Nevaquaya of Oklahoma,
Merle Tendoy of Montana, English saxophonist Evan Parker, French guitarist Jean-François
Pauvros and English drummer Mark Sanders. Left for Dead will perform for the
first time in the U.S. at the McNally-Smith College of Music in St. Paul on
Wed., Oct. 19.
Rochard returned to the Twin Cities in 1999, finding a “remarkably rich
jazz scene.” He worked with Prince’s former rhythm section Michael
Bland and Sonny Thompson, and on a record with reeds player Michel Portal. In
2000, Thompson, Hymas and Bland first went to France and played with Portal.
Returning to Minnesota, they all went into the studio, along with Living Colour
guitarst Vernon Reid and recorded Minneapolis, which garnered top jazz sales
in France in 2001. Since that time, many local jazz acts (Happy Apple, Fat Kid
Wednesdays, Gwen Matthews, Anthony Cox) have frequently made the transatlantic
trip to perform in France by invitation.
Apple, a hit at the 2002 Sons d’ Hiver festival in Paris, garnered a top
10 “critics pick” for their album Youth-Oriented. Fat Kid Wednesdays—featuring
saxophone player Michael Lewis (who also plays in Happy Apple), double bassist
Adam Linz and drummer J. T. Bates—were equally well-received when they
played the festival in 2004. Fat Kid Wednesdays has played in France six times,
and are going back this winter, having participated in a compilation produced
by Parisian record store giant FNAC.
Fat Kid Wednesdays are at the forefront of sharing their free jazz with legendary
musicians such as pianist François Tusqués. Rochard said, “Tusqués
invented his own free jazz which wound up sounding very different from free
jazz in America.” The renowned pianist attended the first Fat Kid Wednesdays
performance in France, exclaiming to Rochard, “I didn’t know there
were still people playing like this!” Rochard said, “Tusqués
recognized something genuine that he misses with a lot of young players and
suddenly he found it with them. I’ve known him for a bit and I haven’t
seen him that excited with new young players for a long time.” Tusqués
met with Lewis, Linz and Bates for every meal during their stay, reliving the
days of his youth via their amicable spirit and energetic talent.
Rochard met his partner and Sur Seine co-organizer, Sara Remke, in Minnesota
while working on a Big Foot Ride film. While living part-time in France, Remke
saw French audiences’ excitement over Twin Cities musicians. “I
wanted to connect those experiences [to] our lives [in] the Twin Cities. Something
that started here became new there. This is a way of completing the circle.”
Tickets range $5 - $15 and passes available, online or at the door. Go to:
surSeine.org or call 888-690-9875.