Saturday, 30 January 2016

Les Oiseaux Rares

Each year, in December, a group of artisans from Cormatin and surroundings organises a two-day exhibition.

Les Oiseaux Rares 2015
Even though Cormatin itself has a rich reservoir of people with creative talents, the members of this group seem to have as their motto "The more the merrier", because each year they invite a number of guest artisans from nearby places. This year the hard core of Les Oiseaux Rares (Rare birds) shared their workshops with these migrant birds. The idea is quite simple: in Cormatin a trail of bird footsteps has been set out, and following this trail one passes all the participating artisans. To make sure that not even one artisan is accidentally not spotted, in front of each workshop a wooden bird (a caricature of the artisan in residence) is placed.

Iris Griot jewelry - Cormatin
Just like the year before one of Cormatin's potters had made 300 unique soup bowls, which could be purchased at € 6 each from each of the participating artists. Again, the hard core of these birds had made a big cauldron of soup, which was simmering away throughout the day. The soup was free of charge, and varied from a simple tomato soup to soups made of slightly more unconventional ingredients.

Pascale Ponsard - Cormatin
To keep a long story short, there is a lot to be admired during those days. The articles on offer were as varying as the soups; they ranged from ceramic, rattan, paintings, felt clothing to hand painted silken shawls. And this is just a random selection from everything on offer. The first day we did not get much further than the workshop of one of our friends (Pascale Ponsard, a silk decorator, who makes not only shawls, but she also decorates material meant for wedding gowns – an extravaganza financially only affordable for Saudi Princes and the like), and the workshop of potter Pierre Arnoud, where it was so hectically busy that we could only view one of the three available rooms.

The second day we had planned our outing a bit more careful. We decided to start our round along the bird's nests around noon. That is the time most French are having their warm meal at home, which gave us the chance to have a good, undisturbed look around. Besides we could have our light lunch trying out the soup made by the various cooks. This set-up worked perfectly. When we had seen enough at around 2 o'clock, both we and our fellow villagers had eaten enough, and while we were leaving the workshops others streamed in.

Soup bowls - Pierre Arnoud - Cormatin
Some soups were a bit strange, though, in terms of ingredients: what to think of a soup made of carrot, curry powder and oranges, or of celeriac, hazelnuts and apple, or of peas, lentils and turnips? What is wrong with chicken soup?
That most likely did not appear on the menu out of solidarity with the less rare birds….

paintings by Jean-Louis Schoffel - Cormatin

Saturday, 23 January 2016

World music : Toumani & Sidiki Diabaté Chalon-sur-Saône

September 2016 the new brochures for the concert series season 2015-2016 became available. In the Netherlands we were kind of spoilt, as we have found out now; Rotterdam, Amsterdam and The Hague have all more or less prestigious concert halls, offering each year e relatively big number of classical, jazz or world music concerts.

Vader en zoon Diabaté - Internet
Of course scale is an important factor when comparing the cultural volume of Burgundy and the Western part of the Netherlands. Rotterdam has a population of approx. 600 000, and the biggest town around here, Chalon-sur-Saône, boasts only 50 000. Not to mention places like Mâcon (35 000), Montceau-les-Mines (20 000), Le Creusot (25 000) or the centre of our universe Cluny (5 000).
Series like "Great Masters of the Piano" with e.g. Brendel are not likely to take place around here. And for the equivalent of the North Sea Jazz Festival one has to travel to Antibes Juan Les Pins or Montreux.
In order to find something interesting one must look for it. In the Chalon brochure I found a concert by 2 Malinese kora players, who had some very interesting Youtube files on the internet once I started looking for it.

Vader en zoon Diabaté - Internet
Hence we decided to give it a try; we bought tickets and were expecting some sort of folk music concert in one of the small halls of the theatre. But also this time we were pleasantly surprised. Not only was the (big) hall chock-a-block full (we estimated about 800 man), but the two African gentlemen (father and son) turned out to be a pair of excellent musicians. The kora happens to be an African harp with a peculiar sound; its body is made of half a calabash, and all other parts making up the kora (strings, pegs, etc.) were originally made of parts (bones, teeth, skin) of the gazelle. It turned out to be a very interesting concert, where I could easily suppress my built-in aversion against the (classical) harp as a solo-instrument.

Michael Palin's Sahara - Internet
Only once we reached home I found out that we had not been watching some obscure African musicians, but that both men had actually won their spurs at big international festivals (Glastonbury, Roskilde, Brighton) where they managed to draw huge crowds. That might also explain the use of a wah-wah pedal in the last tune they played. Over and above that, my son, who has an amazing memory, neatly explained that we had seen Toumani Diabaté in 2002 in an episode of Michael Palin's "Sahara". Remark noted….

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Jazz concert John Scofield / Joe Lovano Mâcon

After the modest concert of the Carla Bley Trio in Chalon it was hard to imagine a concert so contrary to the previous one than the one the John Scofield / Joe Lovano Quartet gave in Mâcon.

Joe Lovano & John Scofield - Internet 2015
I had heard both of them ages ago at a.o. North Sea Jazz and though grown a bit older (haven’t we all?) those two played like they did when they were still in their prime. The concert in Mâcon was organised in collaboration with the Crescent Jazz Club, which celebrated its 20th birthday this year and got the golden opportunity to have a full house, slightly differing from the max. 50 man which will fit with great difficulty in the club.

John Scofield / Joe Lovano Quartet - Internet 2015
As I said earlier, the musicians were enjoying themselves, they played a number of pieces from their latest CD "Past Present" and the rhythm section of Ben Street – bass and Bill Stewart – drums were laying a thoroughly swinging foundation for the frontline. One interesting thing was (apart from the music) that albeit tickets had been sold the seating was free during the concert. This partially solved a typically French problem, where people turn up 15 minutes late without blinking an eye, and then worming their way to their seats somewhere in the middle of a row. And the musicians will have to wait…

CD's signeren
The hall was chock-a-block full and a rough count clocked up approx. 800 seats. The Crescent Jazz Club can only in its wildest dreams imagine these numbers; it is most likely a multiple of their yearly number of visitors.

Afterwards one could purchase CD's, signed on the spot by the two masters themselves; who would say no to a chance like that?