I first encountered the swinging percussionist Stephane Seva on pianist Olivier Lancelot’s CD (“Lancelot and his Chevaliers”). Although some washboardists can be heavy and overly assertive, Stephane had a light, tapping sound, and an irresistible beat. He’s on two new, rewarding CDs.
But first — here’s Stephane in the setting most would have encountered him, as an integral part of the quartet PARIS WASHBOARD (captured by Jeff Guyot for YouTube), with trombonist Daniel Barda, clarinetist Alain Marquet, and pianist Christian Azzi, performing ROSE OF THE RIO GRANDE:
Stephane is in fine form on the quartet’s latest CD, LIVE IN MONSEGUR (which features Barda, Marquet, and pianist Louis Mazetier), recorded live on July 4, 2009 — at a festival titled “Les 24 heures de Swing.”
It’s on the Black and Blue label (BB 708.2) and begins in high gear with a romping MINOR DRAG — followed by SQUEEZE ME, DINAH, KEEP YOUR TEMPER, ROCKIN’ CHAIR, THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE, UP JUMPED YOU WITH LOVE, CARAVAN, SWEET LORRAINE (with witty lyrics in French about the song itself, crooned by Stephane), and MAPLE LEAF RAG.
Although Fats Waller avoided trombone in his Rhythm, Paris Washboard has the cheerful stomp and swagger of the Waller group.
Stephane hasn’t wanted the washboard to be identified exclusively with Twenties jazz and with revivalist bands, so he has performed with a variety of jazz players. And the results, surprising and delightful, can be heard on another CD (on his own label — STEF 001 — with an unusual quartet, SWING ONDULE.
It follows Paris Washboard’s format: piano (Ludovic de Preissac), trombone (Eric Fauconnier), clarinet (Stephane Chausse), Stephane on washboard and vocals, and guest saxophonist Eric Seva. The CD is teasingly brief — fourtracks only — MINOR’S MOOD, CHEVAUCHEE A BOP-CITY, SWEET LORRAINE (vocal by Stephane), WASHBOARD WIGGLES. The first two are originals by the pianist; the last track a famous composition of Tiny Parham’s.
What distinguishes the group and the CD from its more traditional cousins is their gleeful breadth of influences. In the first few minutes (at a rocking tempo) I thought of the Raymond Scott Quintette, Lee Konitz and Lennie Tristano, late swing and early bop . . . all flying by most joyously. This CD cries out for Blindfold Testing across the civilized world. The appropriate reaction would be, “I don’t know who they are, but they’re superb!”
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!
Stephane is coming to New York for the last week of November, and will be doing four gigs. Here are the details:
DOC SCANLON’S PAN-ATLANTIC SWINGSTERS with Stephane Seva:
Saturday, Nov. 27: “DAISY BAKER’S” (10 PM – 1 AM): 33 Second Street, Troy, New York (518) 266-9200 http://www.daisybakers.com
Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010: Swing 46, New York City
349 W. 46th Street between 8th & 9th Avenues
Tuesday, Nov. 30: The Bickford Theatre, Morristown, New Jersey 8 PM: New York Washboard Band: Stéphane Séva, wasnboard and vocals; Dan Levinson, clarinet; Gordon Webster, piano; Matt Musselman, trombone.
To keep up with Stephane’s comings and goings, and his debut on CD as a singer (paying heartfelt tribute to Sinatra and Ray Charles) visit www.stephaneseva.com. and http://www.myspace.com/stephaneseva.