BABX: A house with a piano inside
"This is not a “piano solo”. Anything but that!
I have far too much respect for real pianists who have been wearing out their knuckles for hours and years trying to squeeze every combination out of this great black killer whale. None of that, in my case. The great killer whale is part of the family. Like the family dog. There’s not a house where I haven’t spent bits of my life with him. Not a day goes by I don’t take him for a walk. You end up wondering if he’s in the house or if he IS the house. I don’t feel at home until he’s there.
It is this intimacy with the music that I wanted to capture on this record. Like a bootleg recording. I didn’t have any score to settle with the pianist I am or, more importantly, the pianist I am not. Playing the piano is what I do. The kind of thing you do every day without even realising it. Just as a pizza maker prepares his dough or a bricklayer his cement, I play the piano. But I don’t play at being a pianist.
These gestures come from far away. They are passed on to us, imitated and become our own. The whole history of so-called “traditional” music starts with that. My history, too. It is said that houses are inhabited by the ghosts of people who lived there long before us, and that we live alongside them. It’s the same with music. We don’t create anything, we continue the work of those who came before us.
It’s not impossible that if you open the door of this album, you might see the ghosts of Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Chaplin, Mal Waldron, the old colliery bands of the north of England, a N'Goni player in Mali, Nina Simone, Mary Lou Williams, Ravel, Schubert and so on… And all the more so because I’ve invited them all in, since they’ve always been part of me and, in the final analysis, I also live “at home” with them.
It was my dream from the outset to release this album on the Buda Musique label, a veritable gem of humanity, because it seems to me that this label is the one that has documented the most profoundly, and for decades, what music means in people’s lives, throughout the world and throughout time. With what I hope is a degree of modesty, I wanted — probably because I was becoming a father — to document this gesture passed on to me by my mother, so that much later my little daughter will be able to recognise in these few pieces the sound she hears every day and which she will perhaps, in turn, make her own home." Babx