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“Finally, I’m happy”: the secrets of trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf before his visit to Monaco and Nice

Before returning to the stage of the AccorHotels Arena in Bercy on April 24, Ibrahim Maalouf had no hesitation in qualifying this date as “Renaissance”. Two weeks after this episode, on the phone, he was asked if this term still seemed fair to him.

“I don’t know if we should talk about a rebirth. But, in any case, it’s a fair return of things. The first time I did a Bercy with one of my projects was on December 14 2016. Since then, a lot has happened. For my part, I went through a very complicated, very complex period. I got out of it well and, finally, I am happy”assures the trumpeter.

In addition to forced rest during the Covid epidemic, these “things” these were awards to the chain in 2017: a Victoire de la musique, a César and a Lumière prize for the soundtrack of the film In the forests of Siberia. And, the same year, accusations of sexual assault on a 14-year-old girl, on an internship in the musician’s studio.

First sentenced to a four-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of 20,000 euros, Ibrahim Maalouf was acquitted on appeal in July 2020. “The public continued to trust me, I was still filming and I was able to do some very nice projects during this period. But it’s true that it was more painful. With this Bercy, I had the feeling of being able reset the counters”believes the Franco-Lebanese.

First in Monaco, at the Espace Léo-Ferré, then at the Nice Jazz Festival, we can find the musician with two different shows. In the principality, where he has often performed, Ibrahim Maalouf will offer one of the last dates around 40 Melodies, a concept imagined to celebrate its forty years in music. This summer, he will return with a hybrid format, as a prelude to the release of his new album, Capacity To Love.

Does your entry into quarantine mark the entry into a new cycle?

The older I get, the younger I get in my mind. When I was young, I did concerts of baroque music and traditional Arabic music with my father. The programs were very serious, I worked a lot, I studied at the Paris Conservatoire…

Today, with experience, I realize that the main thing in all of this is to have a good time, to be in fraternity. We are here to share something, more than to demonstrate. This is the priority and I sometimes forgot it at the start.

You could tell yourself that you have nothing more to prove…

It would be very dangerous and I am not at all in this view. The further I go, the more I make it my duty to redouble my creativity. Otherwise, I will stagnate and I categorically refuse it. For me, a project is never really finished, I feel like a researcher. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

You are often associated with jazz, but the purists of the genre seem to be sulking. Have you often felt it?

In this environment, there were people who wanted to encourage me in this direction. And then there were those who disagreed. Even today, moreover, some reject me quite clearly. Nothing serious.

This rejection, can you explain it to yourself?

I understand it, because a culture is an identity. And when we overprotect it, we prevent it from transforming. Some people thought it best not to integrate my music into their environment, so that my influence would not betray their history of jazz. Not being at all in the conflict, I preferred to move away.

What does your audience look like?

It is not communal at all. It is neither jazz nor linked to my origins or my generation. I find it quite healthy, I really like the idea that my audience resembles the society in which we live.

You said playing in Monaco could be intimidating. Why?

A lot of artists play in the Principality, there are ways to put on very nice programmes. So we find ourselves faced with regular people, like in the big capitals. It’s a demanding audience, very international. It’s intimidating in the sense that there isn’t always a direct connection. It’s not an easy audience to conquer, you really have to go and get it. There, I will discover the Espace Léo-Ferré, I understand that the configuration will be a little more usual.

Did you still have a memorable moment here?

Sure! In 2016, at the Opéra Garnier, I came with a show in homage to Oum Kalthoum. We had received a very attentive listening around this project. I think people appreciated the fact that we offer a very traditional Arabic repertoire by marrying it with jazz.

What can Léo-Ferré spectators expect?

With François Delporte, who is a musician that I adore and a friend, we wanted to share a strong moment, around a more intimate program, with elements of my career that people do not necessarily know. This tour was very emotional. On stage, together, it’s much less sophisticated, it’s pure. We focus on the melody, the accompaniment.

> Ibrahim Maalouf in concert.

Monday, May 23, at Espace Léo-Ferré, in Monaco. Price: 42.50 euros. Info. 00.377.

> Ibrahim Maalouf at the Nice Jazz Festival.

Friday July 15 (with Lady Blackbird, Curtis Harding, Nduduzo Makhathini, Emile Parisien and Christian McBride & Inside Straight). Prices: 45 euros, reduced from 5 to 40 euros. Info.

Urban shift

At the beginning of May, Ibrahim Maalouf presented , the first single from the album, scheduled for November. This title, very pop, with funk and baile funk accents, with the Brazilian Flavia Coelho, does it announce a new musical color?

Before Capacity To Love, the trumpeter will present another disc, in June. This is a duet album with the Beninese singer Angélique Kidjo. The extension of a collaboration launched in Nice, in 2018, for the C’est pas Classique festival.

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