February 2007, Paris: Pianist Guillaume de Chassy has just recorded his first solo piano album and he is performing an entirely solo set at the Archipel theater to celebrate its release. If he's nervous, it doesn't show; he jokes easily with the appreciative crowd, leading them through the by-ways of the musical journey that led him to this stage. The easy-going affability is deceptive; when he begins to play, de Chassy is all concentration.
I met with de Chassy a couple of weeks before the Archipel date at his home in a quiet suburb south of Paris. The French pianist and composer, in addition to talking about the new record, waxed eloquently and enthusiastically on subjects ranging from the genius of the composers of the Great Americanand the Great FrenchSongbooks, to the enduring influence of Ravel in jazz, to the struggle between the harmony and dissonance in the arts generally, a kind of dialectical battle Thelonious Monk resolved in his Ugly Beauty.