Andy Emler MegaOctet (France):
Andy Emler – p, compositions, direction
MegaOctet was formed in 1989 by composer and pianist Andy Emler as his jazz laboratory uniting the most flamboyant improvisers of the 80s generation. In the group’s name Emler, a man of invention, humorously encoded its ambition and size – nine musicians, rather than the eight members of a traditional octet.
During more than 20 years MegaOctet has kept the audiences fascinated by the passion and resourcefulness of the nine talented virtuosos trailblazing new jazz territories in a crossover of academic, pop, ethnic and avant-garde music, juggling the startlingly diverse musical vocabulary.
When Emler writes music for MegaOctet, he takes into account the personal style and sound of each musician, and thus is able to tailor or ‘custom-compose’ music for the group. On the other hand, the musicians have already unlocked the leader’s inclinations and ability to manoeuvre between spontaneous and controlled, projecting music’s improvisational nature and interaction. Emler equally excels in both composition and arranging. His music embraces the full range of human emotions, pulsates with rock energy, dazzles with almost impressionistic detours and touches of humour.
After three years MegaOctet won the annual Django d’Or prize for ”Best Jazz Orchestra”. In 2007, the group released the album West in Peace, which shook up the jazz world, was voted “Best Jazz Album” by the French Jazz Academy and named “Musical Sensation” by Jazzman and “Musical Shock” by Jazz Magazine.
In 2008, Emler and his MegaOctet received two main French jazz awards: Jazz Victory as a musician and instrumental band of the year, and Django d’Or as the best concert band on stage.
In 2010, there came the second Jazz Victory for CD Crouch, Touch, Engage, which was named “Sensation of the Year” by Jazz Magazine, while Le Monde and Libération voted it to be one of the ten top albums of the year. It was characterised as a jazz-rock opera with influences of Ellington, Charles Mingus and Frank Zappa.
Emler and MegaOctet has presented a number of unorthodox projects for jazz scene including Pop Unit 2000 with two dancers and video projections, Tribute to Frank Zappa, Childhood Journeys with Percussions de Strasbourg ensemble.
The group’s experiments have strongly transformed the jazz scene of the 90s and keep stirring the enthusiasm of music lovers and professionals alike to this day.
Composer, pianist, arranger and pedagogue Andy Emler has visited Vilnius Jazz in 2007 with his Trio also involving double bassist Claude Tchamitchian and drummer Eric Echampard who are the members of MegaOctet.
A prolific composer, Emler is equally at ease in line-ups of all sizes. While still at the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied piano, music theory, harmony, counterpoint, instrumentation and composition, he played as jazz duo with vibraphonist Antoine Herve, and formed Quintet, which involved guitarist Marc Ducret.
Later Emler played as a duo with saxophonist Philippe Sellam, and trio with Denis Badault and Emmanuel Bex in addition to the aforementioned trio. As a composed he earned his recognition while working at the French National Jazz Orchestra (François Orchestra National De Jazz).
The pianist honed his improvisational skills in collaborations with Michel Portal, François Jeanneau, Woody Shaw, Trilok Gurt, Dave Liebman, Nguyên Lê, Joachim Kühn and other masters. In contemporary music projects he shares the stage with Ars Nova and accordionist Pascal Contet.
Emler was awarded two personal Django d’Or – for best new production (2006) and as the “Experimenter of the Year” (2010).
Currently, Maestro has also been directing his energies into sharing the art of improvisation with the young generation.