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Jacques Sémelin The Breman museum
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The French Horn's new album “Transit Time”

Recorded in a Miami vintage tape-recording studio using old 1950’s microphones, The French Horn’s new album is a warm, well-built and festive album which makes us cross the Altantic Ocean. Its inspirations draw across a wide range of musical styles, from jazz classics such as Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, “gypsy jazz” in the style of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grapelli, as well as French singers and poets Claude Nougaro, Georges Brassens, Charles Trénet and Yves Montant.

When we met The French Horn’s songwriter and musician Vincent Raffard a few days after his success at the Fillmore’s backstage, he stated that he doesn’t want his album to fit in any stylistic category in particular, but would rather have it talked about in terms of “atmosphere”. “Transit Time” doesn’t lack of this particular energy, which blurs the listener’s musical and cultural points of reference. The French Horn collective, made up of 7 to 10 musicians depending on the backup needed for each track, revives a 70-year musical stylistic evolution. It includes three brilliant covers of French classic hits: Jacques Dutronc’s “Il est 5 heures, Paris s’éveille”, Edith Piaf’s “L’Homme à la moto” and Georges Brassens’ “Chanson pour l’Auvergnat”. A perfect stylistic harmony and a fluent technique are the results of this complex energy named “French gypsy jazz”.

This well-built orchestration can be heard on every one of the eight original tracks composed by the band leader, and gives the album all its charm. The musicians’ professionalism and technique remain discreet, as phrasings and rhythms mix to give the impression of a disconcerting easiness. Trumpet, piano, guitar, fretless bass, clarinet, drums, violin and violoncello blend together, sounding like a single instrument. This festive album features a French guest: the famous harmonica player Nico Wayne Toussaint.

Vincent Raffard is not new to this game, but “Transit Time” sounds like the achievement of his own musical identity. After a three-year guitar class in a School of Jazz Music, the then 19-year-old musician took a trumpet course and attended an open class at the Conservatoire National de Musique de Paris where he gained a thorough knowledge of both musical theory and arrangement. He put his skills into practice in 2004 - as a professional musician, he performed over 150 times a year with his band Augustin, and composed Caroline Tresca’s album “Célestin” in 2006 (SONY BMG France). His personal studies of sophrology enhanced his breathing technique, and boosted his creativity. In 2007, after a one-month tour on the East Coast of the USA, the guitarist, singer and trumpet player decided to settle here in Miami.  

While attending classes of a performance jazz program in Miami-Dade College, Vincent Raffard gave many concerts on his own. This experience of solo performances contributed to his music becoming a mix of meetings, energies and influences. He achieved this objective when he created the French Horn collective in 2012. Indeed, the group was hired at the Tudor House right after its creation, and then became the official band of the Miami Nice Jazz Festival. To the original jazz repertoire were progressively added more French and European influences, played by Miami culturally eclectic musicians.

Produced by Spam Allstars, and “recorded live to be played live”, “Transit Time” breaks free from modern, highly technical recording methods that were used for the previous album which was released in 2010. “Transit Time” achieves the French Horn’s genuine, raw musical identity. In a particular atmosphere, this album puts the musicians in the background and allows the listener to focus solely on the music. “Transit Time” releases such a particular energy that it will make you press the “repeat” button.


“Transit Time” release: May, 23rd, 2014 (available online and at every concert)

Find Where to see The French Horn?

  • At Lagniappe’s House, 3425 NE 2nd Ave : a Friday night out of two
  • At Moreno’s Cuba Bar, 2000 Liberty Avenue/20th Street at the Riviera Hotel : every Wednesday night (“French Wednesdays”) and every Saturday night