Internationally renowned French jazz trumpeter, Erik Truffaz was recently in India for a multi-city tour, in collaboration with contemporary urban musicians Riatsu, Anand Bhagat and Neil Gomes. The musical treat was part of the third edition of Bonjour India 2017-18 festival. Guardian 20 caught up with the 57-year-old artiste to talk about jazz and how can it be fused with music genres like Classical and Electronica.
Q. You have collaborated with a lot of artistes globally. What was it like, teaming up with musicians like Riatsu, Anand Bhagat and Neil Gomes?
A. It was great. I really enjoyed the time I’ve spent with Riatsu (popular electronic musician from Mumbai), Neil Gomes (multi-instrumentalist) and Anand Bhagat (percussionist). It was creative and there was a lot of love. Riatsu is very creative and intelligent.
Q. At your Delhi show, we witnessed a delightful fusion of jazz and electronic music. How was your experience of working on this?
A. I have always enjoyed fusing jazz with electronic music. Jazz has no borders, and this fusion with electronica gives a new dimension to it, to which we also add some rock elements.
Q. Your thoughts on the growth of electronic music in India?
A. I think it has been very positive.
Q. The fusion of Indian classical music with jazz remains very popular in India, as in many other countries. Since you have also teamed up with Indian classical musicians in the past, what are the commonalities that you have come across between jazz and Indian classical music?
A. Common points are the modal aspects: the tanpura creates an atmosphere on which we can improvise. Jazzmen tried to recreate this atmosphere with European music, especially the ECM Records.
Q. Could you talk to us about your bond with India, especially with respect to your album Benares?
A. I met two Indian classical musicians at a jazz festival in Kolkata a few years ago, Indrani and Apurba Mukherjee. And we decided to record this album together. It was a great experience, they’ve opened my mind to the world of Indian classical music, which is infinite.
Q. You have performed in the country earlier as well. How have you enjoyed coming back to India for your musical performances? How does the Indian audiences treat you and what does this tour mean to you?
A. I love performing in India. The Indian audiences are very receptive, curious, careful and dynamic. Touring in India is always an amazing experience and a great pleasure.
Q. What role do you think music and musicians can play in bringing two cultures or countries closer?
A. Music can always be a political act and our new set is a proof of that.
Q. When did you first think about learning to play the trumpet?
A. My father was a saxophonist. I played with him when I was a kid. That influenced me a lot to start a career in music. I have also been a music teacher before.
“For music collaborations, you need good and open-minded people so that they can adapt to each other.”
A. Life is full of contrasts and not being inspired is part of the creative process. However, it’s important that this phase doesn’t last too long!
Q. Tells us about your early musical influences?
A. I grew up listening to rock, classical and jazz. Pink Floyd, Miles Davis and Erik Satie.
Q. The genre of music that you most like listening to?
A. The kind of music that is full of contrasts and emotions.
Q. How do you feel about performing as a part of the Bonjour India celebrations?
A. I’m very grateful to the French Embassy, because of whom I have met great young musicians in India and composed new music.
Q. How important are such events for artistes?
A. It’s important to enable artistic collaborations, and to develop dialogue and interactions between France and India.
Q. How do musical collaborations work according to you?
A. For music collaborations, you need good and open-minded people so that they can adapt to each other.
Q. When did you first decide that you would be embarking on a career in music, and how do you look back at your professional journey?
A. As a kid or as a teenager, all I ever wanted was to be a musician. So now I can say that I have had a really good journey.
Q. What are the common traits that you share with your co-musicians, Riatsu and Neil Gomes?
A. We have a lot in common. We understand music the same way, and we are also very receptive. When you get along with each other as human beings, you probably also get along musically.
Q. How do you handle the stress that marks the life of an on-the-road musician? All that travelling and following a routine?
A. Travelling allows me to learn and question myself, so there’s never any monotony. And I love travelling and connecting with musicians and jazz lovers across the world.
Q. What keeps you occupied when you’re not doing music?
A. I like discovering and learning from all art forms, such as painting and literature. And I like spending time with my friends.