Rob Edgar spoke to Haitian/Canadian pianist Henri-Pierre Noël ahead of his gig at the Jazz Café, Camden on Saturday the 13th July 2013:
Rob Edgar: You are launching your album ’Piano’ at the Jazz Café in Camden on Saturday. It’s a reissue isn’t it? Could you tell me the story behind that?
Henri-Pierre Noël: It all started when a great DJ from Canada, DJ Kobal AKA Jérôme Decis, discovered an original recording of Piano and starting playing it in his DJ sets. A couple of years ago Wah Wah 45’s boss and DJ Dom Servini was visiting Jérôme in Montreal and heard the album. Very quickly he decided he wanted to re-issue it, but to do this he had to find me!
Contact was eventually made, and of course I was very excited about this project! That was the beginning of this very pleasant collaboration. I also want to emphasise the great job Canadian producer Kevin Moon (AKA Moonstarr) did in mixing the original tracks for the re-issue.
RE: Who will you be playing with?
HPN: On Saturday I will be playing with a very talented UK band. I have renowned electric bassist Oroh Angiama, who has played with Corinne Bailey-Rae, Tom Jones and many more; a great drummer, Michael Simmonds; and London based Japanese percussionist Ichiro Tatsuhara – a great set-up!
RE: Your music is a really catchy and interesting mix of funk, jazz and even disco. Who are you’re main influences? Where do you get your ideas from?
HPN: I think that all of us – composers, arrangers and musicians are influenced by our musical environment. In my case, my music is influenced by what can be broadly called “soul music” combined with Haitian folklore rhythms, or “Kompa” music. The combination can be described as “Kompa Funk”.
RE: This album features a previously unreleased, vocal version of ‘Merci Bon Dieu…’
HPN: The funny thing about the vocal version of Merci Bon Dieu is that I didn’t remember recording it until it was rediscovered! It was a big surprise for me to hear that version while transferring the original tapes. Everybody in the studio was very excited about that version. There was no doubt that it has to be included on the re-issue of the album.
RE: You’re famed for having quite a percussive style of piano playing?
HPN:The main characteristic of the piano is that of a percussive instrument. This permits me to use the piano as a strong rhythmical instrument to give it a complete sound along with the melodic part. It suits my style of music well.
RE: What can we expect from the show on Saturday?
HPN: You can expect new interpretations of all the songs from Piano, plus the songs from the new single on Wah Wah 45s, A Fifth Of Beethoven and Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, plus some other popular cover versions. We are ready to offer an exceptional performance for the people of London!
Rob Edgar: What can we expect from the future?
Henri-Pierre Noël: Our next project is a re-issue of my second album One More Step. I know a lot of people have been waiting for this and they won’t be disappointed!
I want to thank Dom Servini and the people who have made the re-issue of “Piano” possible, and a beautiful moment in my musical career.
More information and tickets HERE
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