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Richard Rousselet sees life in full…orchestra

Pioneer of jazz-rock with Marc Moulin (Placebo) then Michel Herr (Solis Lacus), the Mons-born trumpeter is part of all the major jazz bands in Belgium. An all-terrain musician, he leads the West Music Club Big Band and has been teaching jazz with talent for more than thirty years.

At the head of the West Music Club Big Band for 33 years, Richard Rousselet largely dispenses a modern and catchy swing. But the original Montois (1940) is also a trumpeter, adapting to all formations and all styles, or almost.

It’s a classic concert, given as part of the Jeunesses musicales by the Dixie Stomperswhich opened his ears in the mid-1950s: “When the kid left the theater, he was no longer the same. It was a revelation. That was what I wanted to do”, he recalls.

Before this concert, he had no idea what the blue note could be: “In workers’ houses, at the time, there was a radio in the kitchen and the whole family listened to André Claveau, Jean Sablon, Annie Cordy. I was nourished by popular music.” When the transistor radio arrived, then, “young people could listen to something other than their parents”, in stoemelings, in their room.

Jazz, the right wavelength

And the airwaves were rich at the time, with on the INR, ancestor of the RTB, the emissions of Nicolas Dor and Jean-Marie Peterken (“Jazz for All”), and Carlos de Radzitzky (“Modern jazz”). As for Daniel Filipacchi and Frank Tenotthey are a daily hit with their show “For those who love Jazz”, on Europe n°1.

“In the workers’ houses, at the time, there was a radio in the kitchen and the whole family listened to André Claveau, Jean Sablon, Annie Cordy. I was nourished by popular music.”

Rather focused on old-fashioned jazz, Richard Rousselet changed course when he heard Clifford Brown in “Jazz pour tous” and, still today, he remembers it… “That’s how you have to play, I said to myself, and since then, I’ve been trying to approach this aesthetic.”

“Influenced by Dizzy GillespieClifford remains the center of jazz trumpeting, with Fats Navarrodied very young because he did stupid things.”

With “a good memory and a good ear”, Richard Rousselet therefore gets started. Through another Mons resident, the excellent pianist Jean Leclere, he was introduced to the jazz world, notably at the Brussels club The black rose.

In the competition organized by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), as part of the Montreux Jazz Festival 1969he presents himself with the guitarist Philip Catherine. If he is not awarded, Richard Rousselet is however spotted and called to play within the big band of clark terryalso a trumpeter and renowned conductor.

Overture to Ella Fitzgerald

“We played a great concert before Ella Fitzgerald at the Casino de Montreux, he recalls. And, in March 1970, we received a note from Clark Terry saying that Polydor was releasing the disc(1), with a check for 5,000 Belgian francs. It was extremely correct.” The Mons trumpet player returned to Montreux in 1971, for the first concert of the Placebo group created by Marc Moulin.

Richard and Marc have known each other since the early sixties, playing modern jazz inspired by the standards of the Miles Davis quintet. “At the end of the sixties, Mark Moulin tells us that something new is happening thanks to Miles Davis and his pianist, Herbie Hancock. ‘There is a way to make music differently,’ he says.

By electrifying their instrument making and focusing on binary rather than ternary rhythms, Miles, Herbie and the others came from create jazz-rockcurrent in which engulfed Placebo.

The little philosophy of Marc Moulin

Pianist, composer, creator of radio programs at the RTB (“Cap de nuit”, “King Kong”, “Radio Crocodile”, “Radio Cité”), Marc Moulin was much more for Richard Rousselet who considered him “as a master. I listened to his choices and he influenced me with his somewhat philosophical vision of things.”

Once the Placebo adventure is over, after three albums all the same, the trumpeter embarks on the new fusional adventure, Solis Lacus, under the leadership of Michel Herr, pianist, composer, arranger. If Marc Moulin essentially plays the Wurlitzer electric piano, like Ray Charles in “What I’d Say”, Michel Herr devotes himself to the Fender Rhodes.

The keyboard isn’t the only difference between the two flagship jazz-rock projects in Belgium: “Without making any concessions, Marc had an impact on the popular side of music. He was a visionary and saw things without always being able to achieve them. Michel was further on the technical and harmonic levels.”

After a thunderous debut with that of Clark Terry, Richard Rousselet integrates more or less all the big bands in Belgium, starting with the formidable Belgian Big Band(2), assembled by fire John Blatonfrom the family of entrepreneurs, himself a guitarist and racing driver.

Great orchestras everywhere

It will also be the RTB orchestra led by Henri Seghers, the BRT Big Bandtrend varieties, of Freddy Sunderor the excellent BRT Jazz Orchestra led, from 1965, by one of the greatest Belgian saxophonists, Etienne Verschueren. A musician that Richard Rousselet holds in high esteem, like Jacques Pelzer, saxophone and flute, Jack Saltsalto sax, and Sadi Lallemandvibraphonist, percussionist and legendary singer, known only by his first name.

Integrating Act Big Band by Félix Simtaine and Michel Herrthe trumpeter from Mons was finally called upon to conduct, from 1989, West Music Club Big Band. “We rehearse every Wednesday. I won’t tell you about the thousands of hours of work, but hey, it’s great.” Since the end of 2015, the great orchestra has added to its repertoire that of… Placebo.

“I get the most out of my students by giving them the maximum. Here as elsewhere, the more you give, the more you receive.”

Like his contemporaries, Richard Rousselet had to practice a second job for a long time to boil the pot. It was first a part-time education, as an educator and executive secretary, before the creation of the jazz section at the Brussels Conservatoryin 1988. Department whose director at the time, Jean Baily, entrusted him with the management.

There or elsewhere, in particular for the Jeunesses musicales to which he owes the discovery of jazz, Richard Rousselet deploys tremendous teaching skills, following a fruitful philosophy: “I get the most out of my students by giving them the maximum. Here as elsewhere, the more you give, the more you receive.”

(1) Clark Terry at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Polydor 2391011, 1970.

(2) Belgian Big Band, conducted by Sadi, Alpha, 1973.

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