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Rêve d’Eléphant Orchestra


A group from Liège, a sound engineer from Brussels and a label from Bruges; these are the ingredients which make up the Belgian surrealist project, Rêve d’Eléphant Orchestra. The music of these iconoclasts of contemporary music has the colour of the jungle, the rhythm of Africa and the seriousness of the Liège Conservatoire's "jazz seminar".

In this collective of seven musicians, we find Michel Massot, a tuba player and trombonist of international renown, whose presence on the scene always has the auditorium spellbound, the delusional virtuoso flautist Pierre Bernard, a member of the now-defunct "Grande Formation", the colourful guitarist Nicolas Dechêne, the new generation flagship trumpeter present in almost all projects, Jean-Paul Estiévenart, and three percussionists: Michel Debrulle, a whirling drummer in all genres - including Binche in his free time -, plus Etienne Plumer and Stéphan Pougin. Three drummers, three wind instruments and a guitar. Shake everything up and the result is magical, dense and captivating. The boundaries between fanfare, jazz and contemporary music are wiped out. It is quite entertaining to listen to their inventions, both scholarly and popular, and the joy on stage is tenfold.

Why "Rêve d’Eléphant"? The name comes from a dance show with which Michel Massot and Michel Debrulle were associated, around dancer Filipa Cardoso at first, and then Anne Mousselet. Since then, the formation has focused on preserving the connection with dance, the festive side of what it does, paving the way to dreams, the imaginary and a touch of madness, dear to the "Cité Ardente".

Since 2000, the septet has released four singles: ‘Racines du Ciel’, ‘Lobster Caravan’, ‘Pourquoi pas un scampi?’, and ‘Odyssée 14’ for the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Collectif du Lion, the structure which manages the group. This last opus makes a partial return to the origins of Rêve d’Eléphant in the sense that David Hernández' participation brings more choreography onto the scene. With the former accomplice of Tout est Joli/All is Pretty, Thiérry Devillers and David Hernández, storytellers and singers, "Rêve d’Eléphant Orchestra" also encounters the texts of William Burroughs, Arthur Rimbaud, Pablo Picasso and Thiérry Devillers. As a result, the septet's scenic performances take on a fascinating theatrical dimension. For those with an appetite for even more, we highly recommend finding a copy of the superb book Sur la Piste du Collectif du Lion… Une aventure plus que musicale to gain access to the animal's den and discover all of the facets, texts and pictures alike.

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Photo © Yves Kertius

Jean-Pierre Goffin

Jean-Pierre Goffin (1953) has been writing jazz cronicles, interviews and concert reviews for the magazine L'Avenir for more than 20 years already. He also writes for several websites and magazine LARSEN

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