The French jazz scene has a vitality, an originality and a do-it- all and do-it-anyway mentality about it right now. It is French musicians who are blazing the new trails for contemporary European jazz. There is a wonderful open-mindedness towards all musical cultures, genres and tendencies; and yet French musicians also give off the sense of having a proper grounding in their own tradition. A musician who represents all of these tendencies ‘par excellence’ is saxophonist Emile Parisien. Born in Cahors in the wine-growing region of the Lot, he is a jazz visionary. He may have one foot in that ancient soil, but his gaze is firmly fixed on the future. The leading French newspaper Le Monde has called him “the best new thing that has happened in European jazz for a long time,” while the Hamburg radio station NDR made the point of telling its listeners to give Parisien their “undivided attention.”
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