Alex Jacquemin is a modern jazz guitarist with a driving penchant for originality, daring and challenge. Born in France, he did not pick up his first guitar until the age of 16, but worked on his mastery of the intrument with such disciplined devotion that he was formally teaching others how to play by his fourth year. Renowned for his amazing ability to blend into any musical scenario, Alex played in a number of eclectic bands such as the electro-rock ensemble Zend Avesta, the Brazilian group Vitto and the world music band Canaïma. He also played throughout Europe in major venues and festivals, and recorded a number of albums in ever-changing styles, including the progressive jazz-rock power trio format of Underground 95-02 and the 2000 album Story of, his way of whisking early `60s Blue Note boogaloo into the future. An ambitious player, composer, arranger and bandleader, Alex brought his skills to the United States to delve deeper into shaping his own style and sound.
His most profound progress in this direction can be heard on his completely original new double CD concept album, First and Last Light. It is a project comprised of two separate discs that find Alex playing electric guitar within two very unique duo situations. The first disc, color-coded brown, is subtitled “Zanchin” a Japanese term refering to “a mental state of transcending awareness and a focused unity of the mind.” This CD pairs Alex with electric cellist Yoed Nir and is a thematic collection of pieces dedicated to touchstone people, precious places and points of reference from Alex’s life. This was a direct result of the pairing of guitar and cello consistently yielding musical leanings that were melancholy, reflective and nocturnal. Musically, both gentlemen play their instruments through a series of moody special effects while also utilizing a device called the Loop Station that captures musical phrases of varying lengths that they play then repeats them at specific times throughout a performance. It is because of both Alex and Yoed using their own versions of this device that Alex defines the pieces they created as “spontaneous compositions” as opposed to improvisations.
Alex Jacquemin’s new release combines the sounds of
European and American jazz with the rich, sensuous melodies of
Africa and the Middle East. Sexy, playful, mystical, it transports
you to new states of mind, where anything is possible.
Valerie Gladstone, writer for The New York Times, Washington
Post and LA Times.
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