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2021 Jazz & New Music Grantees

Thaïs Lona © Sandra Gomes

The Cultural Services of the French Embassy, in partnership with FACE Foundation, is proud to announce the 2021-2022 grantees of Jazz & New Music program.

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all countries and continues to deeply affect people all over the world. The artistic and cultural sector has been hit particularly hard by the public health crisis. Today, more than ever, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the FACE Foundation are proud to promote and support artistic performances through the Jazz & New Music program.

This program – a merger between two former programs, FAJE and New Music – is designed to encourage the creative and professional development of French jazz and contemporary composers, musicians, and ensembles in the United States. In 2021, 16 creative, touring and residency grants, totaling $131,260, have been awarded.

Creative Grants support projects resulting in the creation of new works by American and French composers and musicians.

Among these projects, Annabelle Playe: Ad Astra is a collaboration between ISSUE Project Room, Inc. and multidisciplinary French artist Annabelle Playe. Playe composes with modulars, reverbs, a compressor, a MFB Synth II and a polyphonic synthesizer to create a series of pieces with variable durations. This creation takes the format of an electroacoustic piece which was presented as a free, pre-recorded event available to stream on ISSUE’s website and Vimeo page as part of ISSUE’s expansive Winter/Spring 2021 Season. The Bridge #2.04 is a new creation of five unfettered spirits, who have never played together before, gathered under one imperative: an immediate readiness to explore a musical territory where everything is possible. The group features Damon Locks, one of Chicago's most renowned poets and visual artists, Macie Stewart, an up-and-coming violinist and guitarist, and a new generation of French musicians: Morgane Carnet, a flamboyant saxophonist, Fanny Lasfargues, an atypical and irreverent bassist and Jozef Dumoulin, a keyboard player of purity and density.

Annabelle Playe © Quentin Chevrier

The Unity Project brings together four musicians from diverse sociocultural backgrounds: Katie Thiroux and Cédric Hanriot with Melissa Aldana and Jonathan Pinson. They are unified by their desire to bring peace, love, understanding and joy to others through music. Katie Thiroux and Cédric Hanriot have been inspired to compose a six-movement suite of music based on the work of the following thinkers who uphold the values of peace, unity and humanity: Toni Morrison, Mahatma Gandhi and Voltaire. Select poems from each artist are melded with the acoustic sounds of the saxophone, double bass, drums and piano, with pre-recorded organic material, pre-recorded sounds from the thinkers as well as integrated audience participation, to demonstrate the unity that sound offers. Think Big is an unprecedented quartet with the air of a libertarian manifesto that shoots up from experimental ground. Double bassist Thibault Cellier and saxophonist Raphaël Quenehen developed a relationship for 18 years within the artists collective “Les Vibrants Défricheurs” and the band “Papanosh.” Standing with them in this quartet are Mike Reed, drummer, composer and hyper-activist on the Chicago scene as well as a member of the AACM, and Ben Lamar Gay, his long-time partner, a trumpetist and multi-instrumentalist coming from the same galaxy. 

MRAEmel Mathlouthi’s 5th album is a collaboration between her and a group of daring female artists and music producers from France, the US and beyond: Marie Davy, Katel, Lara Sarkissian, Rui Ho, Lyzza. This album is a bold and unique journey into feminism, cultural exchange and inclusion. Working with women from diverse backgrounds and the LBTQ community, Emel pursues a unique level of artistry, both musically and on a human level. Only Shaw is an ambitious monographic project birthed by Ensemble I Giardini. It aims to expose French audiences to the musical universe of US composer Caroline Shaw, a major young female artist whose rich work promises to be just as relevant tomorrow as it is today. The project develops in three phases: a commission and world premiere of a new work in partnership with leading French festival Musica; a French tour of 5 monographic concerts presenting this world premiere alongside two European premieres and a possible US-Canada tour; and a recording of the 6 pieces of the program including the commissioned work.

Katel © Muriel Thibault

Radiolarians is a piece by Michael Pisaro commissioned by the Grand Orchestre de Muzzix, an orchestra of varying size. The ensemble will perform the work in an immersive concert, in which the audience will be surrounded by some 50 musicians. The piece has an uncommon written score: it consists of transcriptions of radiolarians drawn in E. Haeckel’s book Die Radiolarien (1862). Saxophonist Celine Bonacina will collaborate with American pianist, keyboardist, singer and composer Rachel Eckroth to create an original repertoire, to be recorded and then presented in concert. She will include in this project two other musicians of North American origin, residing in France: Chris Jennings (Canadian double bassist, composer, sound effect creator), and John Hadfield (American percussionist, drummer, composer, noise maker). The purpose of Mirror is to make this concept continue to evolve through a Franco-American dialogue, 30 years after jazz fusion first came into being. 

Pensée glissante, a new evening-length work for line upon line, created by and performed with French composer Elsa Biston, explores various relationships between the four musicians (Elsa Biston, Adam Bedell, Cullen Faulk and Matthew Teodori), from guided improvisation to more precise composition, mixing oral and written transcription. One feature of Elsa’s recent work, to be explored further in this new piece, is the utilization of transducers to send collections of sine wave patterns through various percussion instruments, which act as amplifiers.Théo Girard, double bassist from Paris, is the initiator and artistic director of MOBKE, a Franco-American jazz quartet with a man and a woman residing in the USA (Nick Lyons and another musician) and a man and a woman residing in France (Théo Girard and Sophia Domancich). The musical influences will be Lennie Tristano, Warne Marsch and Lee Konitz, for the beauty of their melodies and the freedom in their improvisations. 

Elsa Biston © Marion Brunet

The Jazz & New Music program also supports French artists through Residency Grants.

Americas Society is partnering with Festival Nueva Opera de Buenos Aires, the Centro de Experimentación del Teatro Colón and Fundación Williams to invite musicians from French Ensemble 2e2m to rehearse and perform newly commissioned works by Latin American and Caribbean composers, including Alyssa Regent from Guadeloupe. Re-imagining The Global Latin American Composer aims to expand the professional and aesthetic development of young and innovative music creators in Latin America. Over one week, musicians will rehearse the final version of the new works, hold a masterclass with students at Hunter College and the Graduate Center-CUNY, and present the world premiere of the new works during a concert at AS, as part of Music of the Americas Concert Series. 

French Opera House Project, a new creation by Yohan Giaume, is a multidisciplinary creation combining a virtual performance space rendered in 3D with live musical performances. This project proposes a creative and ambitious response to the COVID-19 crisis by offering a virtual cultural center in which artists can collaborate and perform. It celebrates the close ties between France and Louisiana, offers an immersive, historically informed experience to audiences, and, independent of pandemic-related concerns, represents a powerful model for experiencing live performances. Hunter College, one of the constituent colleges of the City University of New York, and a leader within the New York City public university system for the study of the Performing Arts, will present the French-American chamber jazz Ensemble Reverso in a series of performances and workshops for a variety of audiences via both virtual and in-person activities. Chamber Jazz Residency with Reverso at Hunter College of CUNY will look to move past the differences that have separated jazz and classical pedagogy for generations while developing strategies that build on the shared languages, performance practices, repertoire, people, history, social and cultural movements, and other yet unknown similarities between the two musical worlds.

Ensemble Reverso © George B. Wells

In summer 2022, SummerStage, NYC’s largest free outdoor performing arts festival, will welcome a week-long residency for French soul-rap-R&B artist Thaïs Lona to collaborate with NY-based jazz ensemble The Revive Big Band (RBB), culminating in a performance at their mainstage in Central Park. RBB will work remotely with Thaïs in early 2022 to rearrange her songs for their big band. Her NY residency will include 4 days of rehearsals with RBB at Michiko Studios, one of which will be open to the public, and a free masterclass at SummerStage. The School of Music at the University of Iowa has invited composer Philippe Ollivier for a residency at the University of Iowa to create Electroacoustic improvisations with Logelloop. The residency will include rehearsals, performances, music creation and instruction on the Logelloop software. The residency will end with a live recording of a concert featuring the Laptop Orchestra at the University of Iowa (undergraduate and graduate students), assistant professor Jean-François Charles and guest artist Philippe Ollivier. A second concert will take place in Iowa City, to reach a different community and artists in the city. 

This year, one Touring Grant was awarded to a French musician to promote his touring project in the U.S.

Franck Vigroux and Ulrich Krieger will present a new piece for electronics and amplified-processed saxophone, which will be performed in a minimum of 4 cities right after a short residency at CalArts in L.A in spring of 2022. If the tour is not possible because of the pandemic, they will work on a video to stream the performance online on each venue's social media platform and website. CalArts will give access to rehearsal, recording, electronic and analogue synth studios for the duration of the residency. During this time, Franck Vigroux will perform his new audiovisual concert The Island in San Francisco.  

Franck Vigroux © Quentin Chevrier

Jazz & New Music is a program of FACE Foundation in partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States with the support of the French Ministry of Culture, Institut français, SACEM (Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Éditeurs de Musique) and the CNM (Centre National de la Musique).