Rahsaan Roland Kirk was a legendary jazz shaman on horns. As a soloist, he was capable of sounding like a full band by blowing hard and free into three alto saxophones at once, back in the 60s-70s.
The French saxophonist Guillaume Perret (born 1980 in Annecy) doesn’t take it to that level, but his new release “Free” (2016) features compositions by Perret playing solo, though with the accompaniment of multiple effects-pedals and computer wizardry (mainly for delay and beats) to overwhelm an arena hall with his hypnotic, uplifting and overall thumping jazz. Guillaume Perret is influenced by ethio-jazz, trance and Middle Eastern and Brazilian music, while when he plays with his group Electric Epic, their own modern electro-jazz-rock fusion is unleashed to its fullest velocity.
Perret’s development makes sense. For jazz festivals today, especially in Europe, often with many thousands in the hall and particularly outdoors, the acoustic set just doesn’t reach the audience in the way that both sides (traditional jazz musicians and listeners) did in the past; and so, younger jazz players have needed to seek out newer forms of performing using technical advancements to push their music ever further into new terrain, or jazz would simply fade away, as far as new fans are concerned.
Miles Davis was obsessed with this dilemma 50 years ago, which led him to form the electrified Bitches Brew sessions to compete with Sly & The Family Stone, and Jimi Hendrix, on stage and on the streets for new listeners. Perret is conjuring up the same potions, as some critics are calling him a “Hendrix” on saxophone. Although he doesn’t play the blues (like Hendrix), nor three horns at once (like Roland Kirk), Perret aspires to be a new jazz shaman for the times, and our times do need it.
You can still catch the big sound of Guillaume Perret with his group Electric Epic in smaller venues too, including upcoming concerts around Paris, France and in Prague, in the Czech Republic:
November 17—Le Café de La Danse, Paris, France
November 18—Le Plan, Ris Orangis (Paris suburb), France
November 19—Espace Lino Ventura, Torcy (Paris suburb), France
November 25—Centre des Arts, Enghien-les-Bains (Paris suburb), France
November 26—Palac Akropolis, Prague, Czech Republic
Images & Video: Guillaume Perret