36th Vilnius Jazz Festival. 12-16 October, 2022

Dominique Pifarély Quartet


Dominique Pifarély - vl
Antonine Rayon - p
Bruno Chevillon - db
François Merville – dr

Featuring some of the most talented musicians on the European jazz scene, this quartet was formed last year. However, the three musicians’ paths have crossed with Dominique Pifarély in the past.

This virtuoso, exceptionally homogeneous quartet has already charmed the critics with its ability to respond every time in a different way to the sometimes contradictory orders and desires of a leader who is more than ever preoccupied with exploration of those unstable areas between improvisation and composition which are his preferred territory.

The ECM is about to release the quartet’s album.

Dominique Pifarély has collaborated with this label for over two decades as a partner of Louis Sclavis, the celebrated French clarinettist and saxophonist.

The two musicians have worked together since 1985, and in 1992 formed the Sclavis/Pifarély Acoustic Quartet, featuring guitarist Marc Ducret, a contemporary jazz guru, and bassist Bruno Chevillon.

In his early career Pifarély was in demand as a straight jazz player, but soon began playing progressive forms of the music in Mike Westbrook’s band and the Vienna Art Orchestra. In the 1980s he began leading his own bands.

Inclusion of spoken texts in music projects is one of Pifarély’s idiomatic features. The violinist has collaborated with French writer François Bon, actors Violaine Schwartz and Pierre Baux. He employed poetry in programs with pianist François Couturier and countertenor Dominique Visse.

“I’m a big reader of poetry and my idea was that the album could resemble a collection of poems.” The violinist’s latest album Time Before And Time After borrows its generic title from TS Eliot’s poem, and the individual tracks are also named for poets and poetry.

Recently, Pifarély has been focusing on solo playing. “It’s like a very personal workshop. More than in any other configuration it is in the solo playing that I work on and develop my improvisational language – the grammar, the style and the shape of the music.” Pifarély says that he allows himself to think “only ten or twenty seconds before a performance” of how he will begin an improvised set, to keep the edge of discovery in the music. “So it’s as spontaneous as I can make it.” And these revelations are fuelled by the audience.

Pifarély’s music is often mercurial. In his mature style, the classical violin tradition and the swing lessons combine with a contemporary European sonic exploration; his technical mastery and quick imagination allow him to move seamlessly between these worlds.

“I’m thinking about the violin as a small orchestra and I have to pay attention to every detail,” says the violinist.

Pifarély has collaborated with a host of jazz luminaries including Aki Takase, Craig Taborn, Stéphane Grappelli, Tim Berne, Carlos Zingaro, Michel Portal, François Corneloup, Wolfgang Reisinger, François Raulin, Joachim Kühn, Gérard Marais, and Stefano Battaglia.

Of late, the violin has worked with his mutant big band Dédales and collaborated in duet with Michele Rabbia. He performs throughout Europe, the USA, Canada, Japan, India, Middle East, Latin America and Africa.

Pifarély returns with this new quartet to a more conventional line-up. One would be mistaken, however, to misjudge his intentions and view his choice as a nostalgic desire to revive past forms, or even as the need for a break in his demanding artistic trajectory and tireless efforts to surpass himself.

Keyboardist Antonin Rayon collaborates in various capacities with numerous groups. He is at ease with piano, Hammond organ and clavinet.

His resourcefulness is attested by his partnership with a non-conformist guitar innovator Marc Ducret with whom he is associated in a good deal of projects. In addition to solo appearances Rayon also works with Franck Vaillant’s Benzine, Kris Davis’ Infrasound, Richard Bonnet’s Quartet among other formations.

Bruno Chevillon is considered to be the best French double bass player of his generation. He earned Fine Arts diploma for photography in 1983, and then turned to jazz.

He joined the Lyons collective known as the ARFI, where he met the coryphée of contemporary jazz Louis Sclavis, and an encounter that would mark a turning point for him. From then on Chevillon has been involved in most of the clarinettist’s major projects, which embrace pure music, theatre, film and dance.

The double bassist has collaborated with a number of representatives of avant-garde and improvised music including Marc Ducret, Claude Barthélémy, Stéphan Oliva, François Corneloup, François Raulin, Joey Baron, Elliott Sharp, Franck Vigoroux, Samuel Sighicelli, and Laurent Dehors.

He has recorded two solo albums, and sided on more than ten albums. His innate musicality and unswerving intuition have helped to make him one of the major double bassists on the European jazz scene.

Drummer François Merville is a leader of unorthodox quintet involving two saxophones, cello, tuba and percussion. The quintet recorded an album featuring the drummer’s music.

Merville also assisted in the recording of French pianist and arranger Martial Solal’s album dedicated to Duke Ellington, Vincent Courtois’ soundtrack for an acclaimed French animated feature Ernest & Celestine, as well as other projects. 

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