La Grande Bleue — Musiques Imaginaires de la Mediterranée

“La Grande Bleue, was born in 1980 in Montpellier”

The vinyl saw the light of day in 1983, was self-produced and financed thanks to a small tour in the east of France during the spring, but the story started in Paris a few years back, thanks to a cassette tape a friend brought back from Greece where she had met musicians.

For Jean Baptiste and the musicians of the group BAMBOU, it was a revelation. The music was cheerful and punchy, a blend of virtuosity and free improvisations, which successfully gathered traditional Greek and Turkish music. Love at the first listen!

Jean Baptiste left Paris in 1975 and some other musicians joined him in the South of France. Afterwards, when Bambou was no longer together, he had the idea to start a group up again which would have Mediterranean roots, mixing jazz music and traditional music, original “imaginary” music with more traditional compositions and a big range of classical, traditional and original instruments (Kamaycha, bamboo flutes, “sanza tortue” etc.). By the way, the theme of “Kalamatianos” of the vinyl comes from that mysterious cassette tape, as Jean Baptiste explained, they just added a jazzy touch and a tenor sax solo performed by Jean Morieres.

In the end, the central theme was the Mediterranean Sea.

That is the reason why Jean Baptiste named the project “La Grande Bleue”.

Back then, the concept of “Mediterranean music” did not exist yet, except for a “Mediterranean collective/band”, which had just started in Marseille, and Pedro Alédo, who was also attempting to blend different music together. After that, it became a real musical wave.

“Many groups from the South of France joined in with this movement, even politicians started to use the term Mediterranean identity ! ... We had to be in the spirit of the times”

says Jean Baptiste.

The idea was to blend rhythms, influences, instruments to create something new and unique from a Mediterranean cultural exchange. The first team of the project consisted of Jean-Baptiste Lombard (Kamaycha, Sanza, Turkish darbuka, Karkabat, Mandolin) Jean Morieres (sax, flutes, darbuka) who was also part of the band “Bambou”, Patrick Goffinet on the violin, Yves Masson who played the Bouzouki and the double bass and Pascale Labbé (also Bouzouki and small percussions).

Another outstanding fact about this vinyl is without any doubt the cover of the album designed by Bruno Guard, Jean Baptiste’s uncle. They had a limited budget and in order to reduce the final cost, they wanted to print the cover only in two colors…However, they managed to end up with three!

The title “Musiques imaginaires”  was a wink at Arfi (Association for the Research of an Imaginary Folklore of Lyon) with Louis Sclavis and others who were doing free improvisation and weren’t afraid to move away from jazz in order to create this “imaginary folklore”.

Nowadays, Jean Baptiste still performs as a soloist, a storyteller and a musician. He is at the origin of many significant projects, especially with his friend Yves Masson: “Ulysse et le Maître des Profondeurs”, “Le Prisonnier de la Planète Mars” and “Marco Polo et le trésor de Kublai Khan” with Yves and François Sylvestre.

In 2020, his project “Bourlinguer” with poems and original music played on the Kamaycha and Sanza Tortue (instruments which have been accompanying Jean Baptiste for 30 years and which can also be found on the beautiful track “Sanza” on “Musiques imaginaires de Méditerranée”) will be put out by Mazeto Square.

Thank you Jean-Baptiste, Alice, Marie, Inès & Jordan.

This is probably my favourite song on the LP (with Sanza).

From left to right : Patrick Goffinet, Jean Morieres, Pascale Labbé Jean-Baptiste Lombard & Yves Masson

It all started with this track, an unknown greek tape. You can also see the inspiration with the track Kalamatianos featured on La Grande Bleue.

20th year anniversary of La Grande Bleue, in Montpellier (FR)

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