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Franck Amsallem Waits for His Time

By Published: November 15, 2003
"I left New York two years ago and it was incredible timing. It was right after 9/11, and when it happened I thought I wouldn't be able to leave," he says, noting that his return to France had been in the pipeline for some time. "I was leaving with a mixed bag of feelings over how incredibly difficult it had become." There were fewer and fewer gigs in New York City. The freelance jazz scene and the economy – especially the music industry side of it – were drying up. "I've been back about six times now, but when I left New York, I just had my little daughter, I just got married again, and I was looking for a musical statement. All of that came together at the same time." For these reasons it's tempting to think of Summer Times as a real landmark in Amsallem’s career, a definitive break with the past two decades and five albums, and a calculated attempt to attract critical and popular attention (which, suffice it to say, seems so far to be working). The pianist himself is less bold in his opinion. "Well, I'm not sure if it's a landmark. It's something I wanted to do to show people I can do this. It's going to help me to get a little more interest from record companies. It doesn't mean I’m going to do this all the time. I'm going to play standards to find a twist, a new way of playing."

Amsallem is equally cool when discussing his own reaction to the new release. He sidesteps the usual ecstatic, self-congratulatory vocabulary, such as “very excited” or “best yet,” that many artists use to describe their recent effort. “I wouldn’t say Summer Times is my best record," he says. "It's where I am now. My first CD was equally as good, but people didn't take notice. Sometimes you have to wait for your time."

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Photo Credit
Jimmy Katz

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