Conference Report

Rencontres AJC 2022 (20 Years of Jazz Migration)

Here is Sebastian’s brief report on the annual meeting in Paris hosted by French jazz network organisation AJC (*), held at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris and the Dynamo Club in Pantin.

The closing concert. Photo credit: Maxim François.

The main event of the 2022 Rencontres AJC (Les 20 Ans de Jazz Migration) was the joyous final concert. It featured a celebration band consisting of twenty musicians who have, at various times been part of the Jazz Migration scheme during its two decades of existence. (Full listing of personnel below)

The concert was recorded by the national radio station France-Musique and will be broadcast tonight 3 December 2022 (link below).

Jazz Migration certainly has a proud record. As the official statement has it: “20 years dedicated to identifying, supporting and promoting new talent, with more than 230 musicians supported and nearly 1100 concerts organised”.

I tried to find out the origins of the idea, and was told that it probably owes its existence to an idea launched by a festival director from Perpignan in the early days of AJC’s predecessor organisation, who saw the wisdom of a group of festivals committing to present groups sponsored by other members of the organisation.

How things have grown. The Rencontres AJC this year event had a European angle through the Constellations programme, where AJC has partnered up with the Europe Jazz Network, an organisation with a particularly strong conference culture, and from which around forty members were present…and the host venue, the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. The idea here was to broaden out the programme and give it both cross-art-form and European dimensions.

Round Table on young artist development. With Janine Irons (second from left)

The conference saw a total of ten discussion round tables and break-out sessions at which the theme of how artists can be supported and assisted in development was discussed. (*) There was also a concert by the new crop of Jazz Migration bands. I enjoyed the reedy sounds and wild imagination of Mamie Jotax.

For me, however, the moment of truth was not at the conference, but at the closing concert. That was when the conference’s theme was completely nailed in one very short sentence from vocalist Leïla Martial. Talking of herself and of her contemporaries on stage, who were part of a 20-piece ensemble, she said quite simply:

“Nous fûmes émergeants.” (we were emerging artists…)

The French past historic tense, as used here, is an infinitely subtle weapon. It describes a state which has now been consigned to the past (as in Racine’s Andromaque: “Je regarde enfin quel fut le sort de Troie…” (I finally see what the fate of Troy was)) . And when one thinks of musicians such as Martial herself, or of trombonist Fidel Fourneyron, or of Émile Parisien, all of whom had moments to shine in this concert, they are now stars, and the French system in general – working in its joined-up, collegiate, well-supported way – and Jazz Migration in particular, has helped them get there. They own the stage in such a natural and compelling way, they have a capacity to adapt and be part of teams, and the chops to play naturally and persuasively in whole range of styles.

This great concert was a wonderful occasion. We heard rock anthems, some bluegrass, a song vaguely relation of Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman”. I was bowled over by the breadth of the stylistic range of Leïla Martial with everything from especially written lyrics to a song reminiscent of Brel’s “La Valse à Mille Temps” reflecting on and expressing gratitude for the support of the scheme, to a folksong from Bolivia. The spirit of the occasion kept going once the formal concert was over, and the whole troupe turned itself into a marching band to go round the foyer, which had been the scene of a party earlier in the evening. What a great way to end such a special occasion.

Members of the band as an impromptu choir/ marching band in the foyer afterwards. Still from Philippe Ochem’s Facebook video.

PERSONNEL FOR THE JAZZ MIGRATION TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT

Aymeric Avice – trumpet

Laurent Bardainne – saxophone

Morgane Carnet – saxophone

Théo Ceccaldi – violin

Maëlle Desbrosses – viola

Héloïse Divilly – drums

Bruno Ducret – cello

Hélène Duret – clarinet

Fidel Fourneyron – trombone

Christophe Girard – accordion

Christophe Hache – double bass

Clément Janinet – violin

Paul Jarret – guitar

Antonin Leymarie – drums

Leïla Martial – voice

Sébastien Palis – piano

Emile Parisien – saxophone

Raphaël Quenehen – saxophone

Anne Quillier – piano

Jean-François Riffaud – bass

Benjamin Flament – artistic coordination

(*) I attended as the guest of AJC. I was not able to attend all of the conference sessions, although I did see Manchester Jazz Festival’s Steve Mead chairing a round table on artist development, and Janine Irons of Tomorrow’s Warriors as a panel member for the main round table.

LINKS: The 20 Years Concert on France-Musique

Report on Rencontres AJC 2021

FURTHER READING: The most impressive piece of work I have seen on the topic of artist development is the 187-page memorandum/ Erhebung from the NICA scheme in Cologne, “Artist Development in Europe”. The entire book is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD HERE

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