They embody this diversity of the Orient, Africa, Eastern Europe, Yiddish. These mixtures that make a mixed music that most resembles me. One day, I had this idea when I was working on the film “La Vache” by Mohamed Hamidi, to imagine this brass band. I composed a whole repertoire for our collaboration on this film and since then, every summer, we do a series of…
They embody this diversity of the Orient, Africa, Eastern Europe, Yiddish. These mixtures that make a mixed music that most resembles me. One day, I had this idea when I was working on the film “La Vache” by Mohamed Hamidi, to imagine this brass band. I composed a whole repertoire for our collaboration on this film and since then, every summer, we have a series of concerts to celebrate. But we knew each other well before, on several of my albums and when I played the trumpet with them at their beginnings.
How would you qualify your music?
I find it more pleasant not to define it. I started my training with classical music but my ears started with Arabic music. Around fifteen or sixteen, I discovered jazz and that it was allowed to play the trumpet other than in classical music. I could have a softer, finer sound. I was very introverted, not made for the stage. When I discovered Miles Davis, Don Ellis, Chet Baker, I liked jazz. But my music is not really jazz. I travel. We all have an identity that evolves over time, I prefer to remain free of definitions.
Are you a bit like the instrumentalist counterpart to Michael Jackson in this way of capturing the trends of an era and modernizing them?
I don’t do the Moonwalk. I’m lucky to have an audience that follows me, that I try to surprise. My next album, the 17th, which will be released on November 4, will have nothing to do with what I have been able to do. People will fall out of their chairs. I never want to be bored myself. There will be hip-hop and American rap featurings, but all November I’m doing a classical music tour, and a series with the Orchester National de France around a symphony I composed. It’s my way of defending my identity to be free, even if it means planting myself sometimes.
What will this next album, which comes out the day before your birthday, be called?
“Capacity To Love”, which is the opposite of everything we talked about. Our capacity to love is our capacity to love the difference of others. Not to be tolerated, which is a dangerous word. We can tolerate things that we can’t stand, and as soon as we can, we throw them out. The right word is acceptance and that’s the message of this album.
What remains to be done to promote instrumental music on radio and television?
A lot. I’m talking about formatting. Anything fanatical scares me. I have just released a dancing title with Flavia Coelho. We sent it to the radios saying that we had made a compromise. Many do not want to pass it. “The chorus is instrumental, Flavia Coelho does not sing in French, you need the chorus after eight seconds”. It is extremism. I don’t just defend my music, but the thousands of people who make it and who are never programmed. In festivals, programmers are much more daring. Because they understood that the public liked this diversity. While the radio does not care, its audience is the pub that will do it.
As a young teenager, you composed the melody for a piece that would become “Beirut”. What do you have left of this town?
I spend a lot of time there. Beirut soothes me, inspires me, worries me. I have good and bad childhood memories there. Lebanese music is traumatized music. The war years have done a lot of damage, the country has not really been rebuilt after the war. It was an illusion, makeup. Music and culture have suffered greatly.
You had said that your trumpet was not your “instrument of passion”. Why ?
I did what I had to do to satisfy my father, who told me “do the competitions, you’re a classical musician”. But it wasn’t my passion and doing something that I don’t like, I ended up hating it and putting it down. Much later, I became aware of the luck of this heritage with the quarter-tone trumpet invented by my father. In the message that I try to bring, there was nothing better than this instrument which can play everything. It is a vector of creativity, an organic synthesizer.
So the part where you said you were going to put down the trumpet after your forty years is over?