##1. 24/7 VALENCIA: Could you tell us something about your musical education, upbringing and background?
MATTHIEU SAGLIO: My parents are not musicians because they never studied music and yet they have always been great music lovers. I started with the violoncello at the age of 8, and went on to study classical music at the conservatory in Rennes, France. Violoncello lessons, solfeggio, chamber music, orchestra… a hard and demanding training for a child, with phases of demotivation in which my mother was always there to encourage me to continue. When I finished, I was very attracted to other types of music and I immediately started to look for my own way with jazz, flamenco, world music.
2. What is the attraction of the Violoncello?
The Violoncello is an instrument that “strikes a chord” with many people, probably because it is always said to be the instrument closest to the human voice. Aesthetically, I also find it a beautiful instrument, very sensual. And on a technical level, I love it because it has an immense register of possibilities: it can play as a bass, a guitar, a violin or any melodic instrument. It has the ability to adapt to all kinds of music.
3. How do you find Valencia as a place to live and work as a musician?
I’ve been living in Valencia for 20 years. I love living here. When I go on tour… on my return I always tell my children: Do you realise how lucky you are to live here? I love the light, the Mediterranean colours…that blue of the sky, the bougainvilleas, the oleanders, the orange trees and their smell of orange blossom and the proximity of the sea. On the other hand, Valencia has always been a cradle of mixed cultures and I think that can be noticed and felt in the way of being of its people. As a musician, I always keep a part of my concert schedule here but the truth is that I work mostly outside, in the rest of Spain and in other countries. What is true is that there are a lot of excellent musicians here… and many nationally and internationally famous bands, of all genres of music, have Valencian musicians.
4. What is the general concept of your new album?
In my artistic career, nothing has been planned in advance. I always believe that human encounters generate creativity and each project is a new and different adventure… but in the end when you stop at a given moment and look back, it seems that the path has a kind of general logic… it’s a bit the idea of this ‘Way of the Winds’… an artistic path, determined by the changing, unpredictable, creative winds of encounters. That’s why this album covers all the aspects of my musical adventures (classical, jazz, world), with the violoncello as the central theme and with many guests representing the colleagues with whom I have worked for years, others who have been my idols for two decades… and my three children.
5. Could you take us through each track on your new album, ‘El Camino de Los Vientos’?
1. L’APPEL DU MUEZZIN
This composition is inspired by a very particular flavour from my travels to Muslim countries: the call to prayer. I love this moment and especially the one in the morning. I like to imagine with this theme, that we are invaded by the call of the muezzin, between dreams, and the music continues as an extension of this moment.
2. BOLERO TRISTE
A melody of Iberian inspiration perhaps, like a slow, sensual and melancholic bolero. In it, Vincent Peirani’s accordion shines, wrapped in Ricardo Esteve’s guitar with mastery and delicacy.
Metit means ‘pain’ in Wolof, the language of Senegal. The lyrics are by my friend and Senegalese singer Abdoulaye N’Diaye. It speaks of the pain of the African continent and of all the people who decide to migrate in search of a better life, despite having to risk their lives to do so. I wanted a children’s choir as something tender and fragile for the melody of the chorus… and I love the image of my 3 children wrapping their voices around the figure of the almost two-metre athlete that is Abdoulaye.
One morning last year, I took my eldest son to a soccer game… it was the time of the great dawns regarding Valencia… it was an unforgettable spectacle and I decided to make it a theme. I remember these warm colors between gold and purple and I love the contrast with the pure and crystalline trumpet of the Norwegian Nils Petter Molvaer.
I like to imagine what happens in a temple somewhere in India… a melody of spiritual inspiration, with the collaboration of my brother and his heavenly voice.
It is inspired by Ravel’s Bolero, whose melody appears as a surprise in the middle of the song and at the end, with a 5/4 rhythmic base. There is a very spectacular arrangement of N’Guyên Lê’s guitars and Bijan Chemirani’s percussions.
7. EL ABRAZO
It’s a composition I recorded on the occasion of the death of my grandfather, whom I loved very much. I was lucky enough to take advantage of a tour of Normandy to see him in the hospital. I played the violoncello in his room, along with my grandmother. It was a very exciting moment. Afterwards, we gave each other a hug… the last one. As I couldn’t go to his funeral (I had another concert), I recorded this piece so that my family could play it. For the album, I recorded it again with some beautiful violin arrangements by Léo Ullmann. Now, with the confinement and so many people who have not been able to say goodbye to their families and friends, this song takes on a very particular resonance.
8. SUR LE CHEMIN
A light, melodic theme where Léo Ullmann’s violin shines, like a hand-to-hand between strings.
9. TIEMPO PARA SOÑAR
I had prepared this cheerful and catchy song and I was clear that I wanted to invite Isabel Julve, cantaora, bailaora, lyricist and friend of mine from two decades ago. Of course, the lyrics are hers. I couldn’t miss the guitar of Ricardo Esteve, my partner from Jerez Texas and from countless tours. Then there was the percussion of Steve Shehan… and when the bass was missing I thought… if so far all my dreams have come true with the guests on this album… I’ll try the last one! And I proposed it to the great Carles Benavent… What an honour!
10. LAS SIRENAS
The idea is an underwater journey with the sirens of the bottom of the seas. I think it’s a very suggestive theme and Steve Shehan’s percussion is an absolute marvel. I was really looking forward to having a one-on-one moment with him. There’s the ambience of his inimitable percussion… a musical universe.
11. LES CATHÉDRALES
End of the journey… the day began with the call of a muezzin and ended in a cathedral, with music inspired by Bach… my roots as a cellist. I like to imagine that I am alone there, in the middle of this immense and silent building. Like a suspended moment of peace and introspection.
6. Could you tell us about the other musicians on the album?
In this album there are several references of the European jazz/world. Musicians who have been my idols for years… people I’ve seen in concerts or whose albums I’ve listened to thousands of times. I contacted them because it was a dream (and I think you always have to give dreams a chance) and it was very exciting when they confirmed that they agreed to participate… showing great artistic and human generosity.
Nguyên Lê: I have always been a fan of his sound and the atmospheres he knows how to create. He was the first to confirm and when he sent me his guitar tracks, I was very excited… this moment will never be forgotten.
Nils Petter Molvaer: I have many of his albums and I have always loved the purity of his sound and phrasing… he transmits a very special poetry through his music. I was very clear that I wanted to have him on the theme of ‘Dawn’.
Carles Benavent: A living legend of the electric bass… a dream to have him there.
Steve Shehan: I had been listening to his projects for 20 years. He’s played all over the world with an endless list of musicians. It’s a musical universe, a reference for all percussionists. Suddenly, I met him in Mauritania at a festival where I was playing with Jerez Texas… the connection was immediate.
Vincent Peirani: Currently the reference of the jazz accordion in Europe. I had wanted to meet him for many years and two years ago we met for a concert at the Berlin Philharmonic where I was playing with NES and he was with another group.
Bijan Chemirani: He is a regular collaborator with an incredible amount of musicians (one of the last ones was Sting for example). He seems to be always travelling around the world. We agreed on the recording of the second album of the ‘Résonnance’ project. I loved his way of making the skins sing… excellent musician… and an even better person!
Léo Ullmann: We have been working together for several years on the Résonnance project… he is a young violin prodigy, capable of playing great classical concerts as well as the most fiery improvisations of Eastern music… also with an accompanying capacity that few violinists have.
Also appearing on this album are several of my fellow adventurers from other groups, with whom we have recorded, played and travelled halfway around the world. They are friends of many years and only appear because they could not fit more on this album … the others are in my heart.
Ricardo Esteve: With him we founded Jerez Texas, 20 years ago. We started working together when I arrived in Valencia… and in fact he was responsible for me leaving agronomy for music. One day, I remember he said to me: ‘music deserves a chance’… and it did. He couldn’t miss this album.
Isabel Julve: We toured with her countless times with Jerez Texas, in many countries on almost every continent. We have also collaborated on other projects together. Lasting friendship and a lot of respect.
Abdoulaye N’Diaye: Together, we set up the Diouke project, in which he sang and played the kora. We recorded an album (which I love) and did a lot of concerts. I really wanted to do something with him again.
Finally, my close relatives appear…
Camille Saglio: My brother. It’s the first time that he appears on one of my albums (my other brother, Gabriel, had participated in others), I was very excited. He has a beautiful voice and an innate sense of musicality.
Teo, Marco, Gael: My 3 children. I dedicate this album to them… For me it’s a very special dream to think that their little voices as children will remain forever. I hope that for them there will be a childhood memory that will also be unforgettable.
7. Was the album recorded in the region of Valencia?
I recorded all my cellos in Benicássim, in La Seta Azul, Juan Carlos Tomás’ studio. It was a pleasure to work with him: first to record and then to mix.
Later, we recorded there also with the musicians from Valencia and surroundings. The others recorded each in their own studio (in Paris, Marseille, Oslo, Brussels, etc.). I prepared all the song guides, with my cellos and then I left some spaces and gave some minimal indications… what I wanted was that each one had space and freedom to be able to feel good… and it worked! There were moments of immense happiness when I received the tracks from the guests… at the same time surprises of how the theme changed colour, and at the same time as if it was just as I had imagined it because I had really thought about the theme with the musical universe of each guest.
Now, the album has been released with the German label ACT, a prestigious reference in Europe. I am very excited to work with them again (after NES).
8. Do you plan to tour the album in the future?
To bring this repertoire live, I set up a quartet which is a real pleasure, with Steve Shehan on percussion, Christian Belhomme on keyboard and Léo Ullmann on violin. Together we did a premiere in Valencia where we recorded a live video to have promotional material. Then, a series of concerts in Madrid, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, etc… were confirmed and suddenly, in a moment of illusion for the new album, with many dates closed for the presentation tour and many others in process… suddenly, everything stopped. The concerts of these months have been cancelled, those that were in process have remained in the air… and the worst thing is that we don’t know when we will be able to return to work normally. I cross my fingers so that it will be soon, firstly because it is my livelihood… and secondly because of the immense hope & enthusiasm of making this new project known.
9. Tell us about some of the countries you have visited in previous tours. Which country or countries had the biggest impact?
I’ve lost count… I think I’ve been performing in more than 30 countries… in Europe, Asia, Africa, America. With Jerez Texas, we made many unforgettable trips, with incredible memories for example in Namibia, Japan, Haiti, Sudan, Kuwait, Tunisia, Mexico, China, etc.
These last years I worked much more in Europe, especially with NES, in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, France, etc.
The truth is that I love to travel… it is very tiring but it is always a pleasure to discover new cultures, their environments, landscapes, cuisine and also their people. Right now, with the Covid pandemic, you miss the tours a lot… Hopefully they will come back soon!
Interview by 24/7 Valencia team
Copyright 24/7 Valencia
Matthieu Saglio photo by Anna Guimaras
More information: http://www.matsag.com