Between jazz and creolity, the writer Patrick Chamoiseau invites Baudelaire

The Martinican writer Patrick Chamoiseau, in collaboration with the French musician Raphaël Imbert, publishes a poetic and musical meditation entitled “Baudelaire Jazz”. Meeting between an author in love with what beauty transcends and a spiritual saxophonist.

On the occasion of the poet’s 200th birthday, the Musée d’Orsay invited Patrick Chamoiseau in residence to celebrate Charles Baudelaire. Among the meetings in the auditorium, one becomes obvious: dialogue with the saxophonist Raphaël Imbert.

Chamoiseau will read his texts, Imbert will play the saxophone, the bass clarinet too. In line with the thought of Baudelaire, who ensures that their path makes them rise to the heights of transcendent beauty that he has summoned.

The writer Patrick Chamoiseau and the saxophonist Raphaël Imbert. [Patchwork Studio]

Baudelaire “jazz”

It was not a challenge, improvisation raises the level of consciousness, perception, listening. Paraphrases, word rhythms, jazz rhythms. Respect for what was the history of jazz guides them, their knowledge of the subject and all the foliage that has come from it gives substance to the sounds, the polyrhythms, the alexandrines. Thus, as Patrick Chamoiseau says, Baudelaire “jazzes”. The evidence has imposed itself, this will be the title of the book. A book accompanied by music by Raphaël Imbert, recorded with pianist Pierre-François Blanchard, singer Célia Kameni and percussionist Sonny Troupé. Troupé masters the drums, and his ancestor the drum which gives movement to the music of the Antilles, the Caribbean.

Imported from Africa through the inconceivable suffering of the deported slaves, this music will allow us to overcome. While the slave ships see thousands of humans jump overboard in the middle of the Atlantic to escape their sinister destiny, the dehumanized, uprooted survivors seek the rebound of their hearts and minds in order to re-humanize.

matter of survival

The “round”, rite for the dead authorized by the French masters, will be the only circle that will allow you to rebuild yourself. Baudelaire, too, will live in exile by boat, just to get away from some devouring and Parisian passions. So had decided his father-in-law. The urgency to write and the urgency to improvise are alike, says Patrick Chamoiseau. So here we are embarked on the book “Baudelaire Jazz” which connects in us the emotions of jazz and the emotions of French poetry by a writer whose ancestors embodied the mysteries of these two narrative arts, by creating new languages, also signs of presumed inferiority.

Would there be a solution? A thread that connects the beads of the expressible’s necklace? Patrick Chamoiseau invites us here to the luminous and rhythmic continuation of a considerable corpus devoted to the (in-)human condition in the sugar plantations in the Caribbean. A jewel necessary to our high thoughts on the Old Continent.

Your listening to jazz and your (re-)readings of Baudelaire will be revitalized by this writing that you will also nourish by listening to the music of Raphaël Imbert, included in the book. But they are self-sufficient, too.

Ivor Malherbe/mh

Patrick Chamoiseau, “Baudelaire Jazz”, editions of Seuil.

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Between jazz and creolity, the writer Patrick Chamoiseau invites Baudelaire

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