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Erik Truffaz: Another Day Another Life

By Published: November 13, 2006
"You can buy a DVD," Giuliani continues, "you have the sound but you are not in the concert. It's the only thing you can't duplicate." Truffaz adds, "and also the process of doing the CD was to have pictures, the booklet, and we released three thousand in a special edition with a free DVD of the two bands on tour." The CD as an object d'art? "Art object and industry object," Giuliani explains. "In the '60s and '70s you could live from the music. You could work your instrument all day and go and play at night and that's why in jazz or in funk and things like that you have such incredible bands. Guys like us, every musician we know now; they can live from the music because of that industry element. Sixty years ago, if you wanted to be a musician you could but you didn't live. Either you were a poor guy playing for four people in a house or you were a classical musician."

On stage, whether with the Erik Truffaz Quartet or with Ladyland, the music is a fusion of influences. Truffaz has always been open to new sounds and possibilities, going back to his days in Cruzeiro de Sul in 1983 with whom he made his first recordings. Truffaz says, "When you begin you work where you have opportunity. I love Brazilian music but it's not my music." His music is a hybrid it seems; jazz, pop, acid jazz, rap, drum'n'bass are all mixed up in the pot. "My music is really between pop and jazz. What interests me in jazz is just improvisation. Indian music interests me. It's improvisation."

A lot of these different elements came together when Truffaz and Giuliani joined the band Silent Majority in 1994 with the rapper Nya. "We played in this band for four years and after as the drum'n'bass was going on he [Giuliani] formed his own band. It was a drum'n'bass trio and with all this we had the idea to import this in the band."

Giuliani takes up the story: "The guy from Blue Note said, 'We have to do a little gift for Christmas for the guy who buys the CD Out Of A Dream (Blue Note 1997), so you do two songs in the studio and we'll put it with the CD as a gift.' So we had a jam with Nya with the quartet, we take Nya to a festival and we said, 'Why don't we try totally acoustic drum'n'bass?' And that's maybe where everything started you know. And the guy from Blue Note he listened to that and said: 'Wow! You have to do an album!' Six months after, from little jazz clubs we're doing five hundred people halls. And in France one year after we were quite big and doing gigs like La Cigale. It was this kind of mix, totally acoustic."

And from France to the world. America however, seems reluctant to embrace Truffaz: "Yeah. It's a real challenge, but it costs too much. We did maybe three or four tours and it cost a lot—you have to pay the hotel." Giuliani adds: "And it doesn't sell that much. Drum'n'bass doesn't tour in America." Truffaz concurs, "New York is OK but to be honest in L.A. we had twenty people." Their music gets a much better reception elsewhere. "Eastern Europe is crazy! Russia! We did St. Petersburg six months ago—a little less than two thousand people and three hundred waiting outside. Russia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic—it's full!"

It would be easy to become complacent, to continue recording and touring to a growing legion of fans, but Erik Truffaz is not the type to rest on his laurels. In recent years in particular he has collaborated on a number of diverse and stimulating projects. In 2003 he was commissioned to compose a soundtrack to a silent movie. He chose the 1932 silent movie Children Of Tokyo by the renowned Japanese film director Yasujiro Ozu. "The project was born," says Truffaz, "because there is a place in Paris called Site De La Musique, a big cultural place, one of the biggest in Paris for jazz and contemporary art. It was a concept—they were making a season of movies about kids. They proposed me to compose some music to a silent movie. I was really happy but afraid also. I chose The Kid by Charlie Chaplain but it didn't work. After I found the Ozu film and it spoke to me."

The project came about during the centenary anniversary of Ozu, a happy coincidence and Truffaz found himself invited to perform the film regularly around the world. For a musician driven by the desire to improvise this must have been a radical departure: "There is improvisation but really very little because everything is tight—you follow the images and you cannot let yourself totally go. After performing to this film we could give a very good concert because we had a lot of energy and we could really let ourselves go."

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