Farida Amadou recalls the exact moment when she first held an electric bass in her hands. She was 20 years old and had been playing the guitar for a couple of years. But something about the feel of the strings, the way the bass vibrated in her hands and produced this great pulsating and humming sound, just stuck with her.
“I remember, from the first moment I was deeply fascinated by the sound and the way it felt to hold the bass. I always wonder if it might feel the same for cello players: that you feel the vibrations. It’s a very special way of connecting your body to what your hands are doing.“
In any case, that's when the Belgian musician discovered her passion for her instrument. The electric bass has been her main instrument for more than ten years now. And she keeps on reinventing the way she plays it. As a self-taught musician, Farida Amadou elicits the most exciting sounds imaginable from her Fender bass. She is an explorer. Her field of explorations: the known and unknown forms, sound worlds and contexts of her instrument.
Farida Amadou works at the converging points of blues, jazz, hip-hop, ambient sounds, and noise. She is equally at home in all these genres, which makes her one of the most remarkable new European stars of free improvised music.
In the last two years, she has naturally undertaken most of her explorations from home. Since 2020, she is based in Brussels. A relocation with odd timing: just a few weeks before the first lockdown. “Obviously I moved to Brussels to meet new people and play more concerts. At the beginning it was a bit difficult. But honestly looking back now it was really a good time for me. I had a lot of time to work on my solo project. The only thing I really hated were live streaming concerts.”
Elle vide l’air de la pièce pour la remplir de sa guitare aux notes délicates et jamais inutiles, et de sa voix douce et grave, avec le ton de celle qui n’a plus de temps à perdre.
Elle chante les yeux fermés, pour éviter les regards et plonger en elle. Quand elle a fini, il ne reste que le son des gorges qui se serrent et des cœurs qui se brisent.
C’est quelque chose qui est difficile à décrire et impossible à oublier. Pourtant, l’artiste folk dit ne pas être une naturelle. « Je n’ai pas la scène dans le sang, avoue-t-elle. Je l’apprivoise encore, je commence seulement à m’y sentir bien. »
Dans le café de Villeray où elle nous a donné rendez-vous, elle sirote sa tisane en parlant à voix basse. Son regard est calme et oblique. L’attention portée à sa personne paraît la gêner un peu.
Les autres clients ne semblent pas la reconnaître et cela lui convient.
Le plan fonctionne. Ses deux albums (Not so Deep as a Well et Ma délire – Songs of Love, Lost & Found) lui ont valu des critiques élogieuses de médias spécialisés aux États-Unis. « Une des meilleures parutions de la décennie », affirme Vinyl Factory.
Au Québec aussi, la bonne rumeur se propage. Mais pas assez à mon humble avis, d’où cette interview.
Il faut un peu d’arrogance ou d’ignorance pour prétendre faire de l’art radicalement original. Ceux qui l’affirment taisent leurs influences. Ou pire, ils n’en sont pas conscients.
Ce n’est pas le cas de Myriam Gendron. « Il ne faut pas se leurrer, réfléchit-elle. Même quand on croit créer quelque chose de neuf, on est traversé par toutes sortes d’influences. »
Sun Ra House, the three-story Philadelphia building that has been a cradle for Sun Ra’s evolving Arkestra outfit since the 1960s, has been listed as a historic landmark in the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. The building at 5626 Morton Street, also known as the Arkestral Institute of Sun Ra, reportedly still houses a number of Arkestra members, including current bandleader Marshall Allen. Allen had lived in the house since 1968. In 2021, he reported that the building had partially collapsed. On May 13, the Philadelphia Historical Commission unanimously voted to grant the protected status, a representative for the register said.
As a result of the designation, the Historical Commission will ensure any adjustments to the building meet historic preservation standards, as well as advising on its restoration and maintenance. The designation came about with help from the Robert Bielecki Foundation, a philanthropist organization devoted to artists. Check out the Historical Commission’s proposal for the nomination.
Sun Ra returned to the astral plane in 1993, but his Arkestra continued to tour and record until the turn of the millennium, when it pared back to become a looser touring outfit. Sun Ra Arkestra regrouped in 2020 for Swirling—its first album in decades—which was nominated for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album award at the 2022 Grammys. After contributing to Swirling, the Arkestra’s longtime baritone sax player and manager Danny Ray Thompsondied in 2020 at age 72; bassist Juini Booth died the following year.