Take Five With Franck Amsallem
"There are many good pianists out there, but good pianists who are equally good composersthat is what makes the difference." He then took, with Bob Brookmeyer at the Manhattan School of Music, lessons in composition for jazz orchestra, and lessons in classical piano with Phil Kawin. Their influence stayed with him for a long time. And the experience added up, the true New York Jazz Experience, as an accompanist, and then as a leader. To learn the art form of jazz like the greatest have done it before you. To confront your skills with the best musicians of their time. 2nd prize at Jacksonville's Great American Jazz competition (3rd prize goes to Brad Mehldau). "All that was great, but a career as a leader was just too tempting." In 1990, at 28 years of age with the help of the Fondation de la Vocation and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Franck records Out A Day a trio with Gary Peacock and Bill Stewart. Critics are laudatory; "There is every reason to expect excellence from this young pianist, still in his twenties, who prepared with such discipline for his first recording opportunity. The promise of good things to come is based on the considerable appeal of this recommended CD Cadence. "We are in danger of gushing and embarrassing ourselves. Sample this wonderful recording at all costs (Penguin guide to jazz , 4 stars -top-rating-)." Next, Franck participates in the all-stars gathering New York Stories with Joshua Redman, Bobby Watson, Roy Hargrove and Danny Gatton. Then came a long collaboration with saxophonist Tim Ries. "Regards" earned four stars in Down beat, and JazzTimes found the CD "compelling." Is That So, a duo reinforced by the equal participation of Leon Parker, is noted in the French press by the Inrockuptibles, and so does Years Gone By, with Daniel Humair and Riccardo Del Fra. On Second Thought is heralded as a CD of rare intensity, a live recording from a working band where everything comes together successfully without a hitch.
Franck has performed in many of the big festivals, from Antibes to Pori, Nice to Molde and has backed Gerry Mulligan, Charles Lloyd and Harry Belafonte, recorded with Bobby Watson, Roy Hargrove or Joshua Redman, performed in the bands of Maria Schneider, Rick Margitza, Jerry Bergonzi and Joe Chambers, has composed numerous pieces for big band, for strings and for chamber orchestra. His suite "Nuits" for jazz quartet and string orchestra has been performed in Romania, Bulgaria, France and in Los Angeles. "I love the variety of situations, learning as you go along, challenging every solution, nothing ever preset." In the fall of 2003, Franck returned to the trio with Summer Times (Nocturne/Sunnyside) featuring Johannes Weidenmuller on bass and Joe Chambers on drums. Jazzman ("This recording aims for a perfect balance in every sense of the word"), Telerama, JazzTimes (..."laid-back yet brash, simple yet complex, unassuming yet confident and above all original') all praise the new effort. In the fall of 2005, Nocturne released A Week In Paris, a Billy Strayhorn tribute featuring Elisabeth Kontomanou, Rick Margitza and Stephane Belmondo ("disque d'emoi" jazz magazine, 4 stars Jazzman). In the last few years, Franck has performed in the US (Washington D.C., Chicago, Houston, Dallas, NYC), Canada, a nine-city tour of South Africa and neighboring countries, Israel, China, Holland, Belgium, Croatia, Portugal, Spain, Armenia, Lebanon, Mexico, Algeria and a five-country tour of Central America. From solo to symphony orchestras, as well as big and small bands, and frequently collaborates with local musicians.
Franck new cd, Amsallem Sings is a solo piano with vocals available in November 2009.
Teachers and/or influences?
Herb Pomeroy, composition Philip Kawin, classical piano Bob Brookmeyer, composition
Influences: every great jazz musician.
Your sound and approach to music:
Few notes, original tunes, swinging approach, melodic turns, big and sensuous sound.
Your teaching approach:
Help students explore their own potential. Do not rehash the same old stuff. Learn the tradition of bebop and go beyond.
Road story: Your best or worst experience:
Having to perform in Lesotho, South Africa where there are no piano tuners. Or in Zimbabwe where the only piano available was at the US embassy.
The Blue Note NY.
Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
John Coltrane live at the Village Vanguard, 1965.
The most lyrical stuff ever.
The first Jazz album I bought was:
Stan Getz Jazz and Bossa