“Baudelaire Jazz”: Chamoiseau dances with Baudelaire

“Baudelaire Jazz. Poetic and musical meditations with Raphaël Imbert”, by Patrick Chamoiseau, Seuil, 144 p., with a QR code giving access to the album “Baudelaire Jazz”, by Raphaël Imbert, €17, digital €12.

Since he turned away from the novel, in the mid-2000s, Patrick Chamoiseau has written unclassifiable texts, where the intimate and the political, thought and emotions dialogue, broadening our horizons. The Matter of Absence (Seuil, 2016) followed the course of a drivewhich in Creole designates a “deportation of mind and body, a painful drift in oneself”. In The Storyteller, the Night and the Basket (Seuil, 2021), his reflection on the birth of the figure of the Creole storyteller within the slave plantations took the form of a ” Round “ (lawon in Creole): a circle surrounded by torches within which storyteller and musicians resisted by creating.

In front of the poet’s stele

The literary device of lawon allows him above all to put in ” relationship “ (to use an expression of the philosopher Edouard Glissant, who died in 2011, of whom he was a disciple) things read, haunting themes, and the authors who accompany him. Like Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), whom Patrick Chamoiseau invites in his new text to driver with him and to enter lawon. In front of the poet’s stele, he traces a circle with a finger moistened with rum and lemon, then he goes up to the drum.

Marvellous Baudelaire jazz! Subtitle Poetic and musical meditations with Raphaël Imbertjazz saxophonist, this “score for a chaos-opera” is adapted from a creation, in the fall of 2021, at the Musée d’Orsay, for the bicentenary of the birth of the author of Flowers of Evil, in which participated other artists including Sonny Troupé and Célia Kameni. It begins with ‘Angel Salutations’, followed by four parts and a ‘Coda’. Patrick Chamoiseau does not just shout “Mr. Baudelaire, you did jazz! », nor to build bridges between the improvisation and the polyrhythm of the drummers in the plantations, and that of the author of the poem The music. Inaugurating his text with a “Charles Baudelaire, I am thinking of you”Patrick Chamoiseau reveals the correspondences between the history of slavery and jazz and the creative gesture of Baudelaire.

Go to the “deep into the unknown”

Because it “brother-pain, brother-vision” lived the experience of banishment at a very young age, when his parents sent him to India to keep him away from debauchery, he knows that the sea is an ambiguous entity, both infinite mirror and abyss “black ocean”. Starting sometimes from the experience of slaves, sometimes from that of the poet, Chamoiseau insists on the founding character of their crossings which made it necessary for them to go to the “bottom of the Unknown to find something new”in the words of the author of Flowers of Evil. The poet’s relationship with his Caribbean muse, Jeanne Duval, testifies, according to Patrick Chamoiseau, to his openness to diversity. Finally, contemporary with urbanization and “the inauguration of world capitalism”Baudelaire can imagine the hell of the plantations and therefore the need to resist by diffusing in lawon “the oceanic violence of the vision, the wild bulk of the all-possible”. For he did the same in his poems, where he is “Immaculate in appearance in the agreed forms, but so free below”.

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“Baudelaire Jazz”: Chamoiseau dances with Baudelaire

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