Hector Zazou

Hector Zazou
Published at August 15, 2014

Born of a French father and Spanish mother in pre-independence Algeria. Died September 8th, 2008

Hector Zazou is one of the most innovative and unpredictable of French composers, as the versatility of his career demonstrates: rock music (the Barricades band), French impressionist music (the ZNR duo) or traditional African music (three albums with Bony Bikaye). Whether for string quartet, wind instruments, classical voices or synthesizers, all his compostions illustrate his passion for unexpected inventions.

With the 1991 album Les Nouvelles Polyphonies Corses which won Frances Victoires de la Musique in 1992 he successfully experimented with blending century-old a-cappella songs with contemporary music from collaborators such as Jon Hassell, Ryuichi Sakamoto, John Cale, Richard Horowitz and Manu Di Bango.

The album Sahara Blue (1992) is a tribute to the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, with Grard Depardieu , David Sylvian, Bill Laswell, Khaled, Dead Can Dance, among other guests.

With Songs From The Cold Seas (1995), inspired by the folk musical traditions of the Northern Hemisphere, Hector Zazou invited the best-known local singers like Vrttina, Tokiko Kako, Vimme Saari, Inuits and Shamans, to sing with Suzanne Vega, Bjrk, Jane Siberry and Siouxsie Sioux, among others.

Lights In The Dark (1998) is an exploration of sacred Celtic music from the XIIth century, which featured three of the most beautiful Irish voices (Katie Mc Mahon, Breda Mayock and Lasairfhiona Ni Chonaola), a gospel choir and guest appearances by Mark Isham, Carlos Nuez, Caroline Lavelle and Peter Gabriel. A successful tour followed in France (Printemps de Bourges), Italy and Switzerland (Montreux Jazz Festival).

12, Las Vegas Is Cursed (2001), written with American singer Sandy Dillon, saw the return of Hector Zazou to electrical instruments and unbridled experimentation A flabbergasting baroque opera, a series of intriguing sonic scenes mixing electronic rock and altered chamber music Keyboards Magazine

Next came Strong Currents (2003) an acoustic collection of songs that was the fruit of several years work (with Jane Birkin, Lisa Germano, Laurie Anderson, etc.)

And then LAbsence (2004) – Strong Currents electronic twin.

Quadri{+}Chromies (2006) with its almost contemporary tones, is the result of a two-year collaboration with the painter Bernard Caillaud. The musician lets the colours be heard and the painter, the sounds be seen.

In Corps Electriques (2008) an adventure initiated by the GRM (Groupe de Recherches Musicales in Paris) Hector Zazou and English singer Katie Jane Garside lead Nils Petter Molvaers trumpet and Bill Rieflins percussions into a strange world on the borders of electronic, rock and jazz music.

This amazingly rich and eclectic career brings to light the pioneering aspect of Zazous unique approach and confirms his position in the foreground of the world music scene. But his work is not limited to studio work. In 2003, he wrote an extremely powerful score for Carl-Theodor Dreyers La Passion de Jeanne dArc. Some months later, he created an original soundtrack for Robert Flahertys documentary Nanouk of the North (both commissioned by the Forum des Images in Paris.)

Hector Zazou has proven himself as a creative force behind several unusual projects and a unique musical arranger and director often called upon for his constant capacity for innovation.
He has been commissioned to write pieces for everything from string quartets (like the Balanescu Quartet) to contemporary dance performances, and was even tapped to compose the music for the opening night festivities of the 1998 Worlds Cup.

Hector Zazous inventiveness as a producer has also been put to the service of other musicians. To name but a few of the numerous artists he has produced, are the Tibetan singer Yung Chen Lhamo (on the Real World label), the Galician bagpipes player Carlos Nunez, two albums of music from Uzbekistan, including Yol Bolsin with the singer Sevara Nazarkhan (once again for Peter Gabriels label) and the Italian group PGR (Universal) whose album, produced by Hector Zazou, was hailed by Italys music press as a masterpiece.

Hector Zazou will finish producing the new album of Bulgarian vocal quartet Eva, whose spirit happens to be very close to les Nouvelles Polyphonies corses .

Hector Zazou regularly performs live with Joan of Arc and Quadri{+}Chromies. He is also part of the Slow music band (with Bill Rieflin, Peter Buck, Robert Fripp and Matt Chamberlain). His project called Swara features Uzbek and Indian musicians and invents a new language between oriental scales, raga, and electronic handlings of acoustic sounds.

Swara is a new take on world music and welcome us into a subtle and poetic world in the form of a hall of mirrors in which sounds bounce on the walls and endlessly echo from one wall to the other.

The album entitled In The House Of Mirrors, in which he offered a new take on classical Asian music,subty reprocessed with a nod to some of the music produced in the ’70s by Terry Riley and Fripp & Eno. In The House of Mirrors was recorded in Mumbai with the collaboration of four outstanding instrumentalists from India and Uzbekistan, as well as guests such as Diego Amador and Nils Petter Molvaer. This album came out only a few weeks following his untimely death in September 2008

The very last album by Hector Zazou will be released in december 2012: THE ARCH where music meets the world
Released on Elen Music by EVA QUARTET & HECTOR ZAZOU (produced by Dimiter Panev and Hector Zazou).
David Sylvian tried to be part of the project, but for unknown reasons he didn’t make it on the final album.

The Arch is one of the most outstanding recordings and biggest projects in the history of World Music, featuring more than 50 musicians from 14  different countries.  The Swan song of the French musical magician Hector Zazou is a project together with the exceptional Bulgarian voices of Eva Quartet (part of the world famous choir Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares) with the special participation of musicians from different genres and fields of music.

One producer of The Arch is Dimiter Panev founder and director of the Bulgarian-German label and booking agency Elen Music a 15-year-old company working with musicians from Bulgaria as well as other different countries. Dimiter Panev is also known as the producer of the CD Ivo Papasov, which got the 2005 BBC Music Award.
For three years Hector Zazou and Dimiter Panev travelled together a lot, communicated with musicians from all over the world, exchanged opinions,
ideas, thoughts. It was a very long, yet creative way – The Arch. They went through the sophisticated and long process of creating this unique project – all the guest musicians were recorded in several studio sessions and many more improvised recordings on three continents.

The list of guests is quite long, featuring musicians from jazz, folk,  world music, fusion, electronic and avant-garde etc. Among the outstanding musicians there are the queen of experimental music Laurie Anderson (USA), Ryuichi Sakamoto (Japan), one of the most interesting piano players and composers of our time, the avantgarde rock guitar player Robert Fripp (UK), founder of the cult rock band King Crimson, the R.E.M. ex-drummer Bill Rieflin (USA). Moreover,  several creative jazz musicians like Bill Frisell (USA), Nils Petter Molvr (Norway) and Zoltan Lantos (Hungary) took part in The Arch. Some of the biggest folk and world music musicians Djiavan Gasparian (Armenia), Carlos Nunez (Spain) and Bollywood String Orchestra (India), Indian singer Kaushiki Charkaborty and the masterly Algerian oud player Mehdi Haddab (The Speed Caravan) are part of this incredible project.

Of course, there are also many guests from Bulgaria the contemporary composer and brilliant pianist Antoni Donchev, the male voices of  Dvuglas Milen Ivanov and Daniel Spasov, Sofia String Quartet, the creative project Diva Reka featuring the masterly kaval player Kostadin Genchev and tambura player Dimiter Hristov and many more.
The Arch is mixed and mastered by Peter Walsh a sound engineer who has worked together with many musicians from the Spandau Ballet and Stevie Wonder to Peter Gabriel and Pulp.

The Arch is the methaphorical place where ancient traditions and magical voices meet contemporary feelings, amazing talent, masterly techniques, fame and pure creative spirit in order to create music that connects the best of music. Hector Zazous spirit has come alive again.

The Arch on Elen Music featuring:

Lauri Anderson (USA); Sofia String Quartet (Bulgaria); Bollywood String Orchestra (India); Roberto Cechetto (Italy); Cecilia Chailly (Italy); Kaushiki Charkaborty (India); David Coulter (UK); Diego Amador (Spain); Diva Reka Band (Bulgaria); Antoni Donchev (Bulgaria); Robert Fripp (UK); Bill Frisell (USA); Djiavan Gasparian (Armenia); Andrea Guzzoletti  (Italy); Mehdi Haddab (Algeria); Dimiter Hristov (Bulgaria); Kostadin Kostadinov (Bulgaria); Radosvet Kukudov (Bulgaria); Zoltan Lantos (Hungary); Nils Petter Molvr (Norway); Carlos Nunez (Spain); Dobri Paliev (Bulgaria); Stoyan Pavlov (Bulgaria); Violeta Petkova (Bulgaria); Renaud Pion (France); Minna Raskinen (Finland); Bill Rieflin (USA); Ryuichi Sakamoto (Japan); Stefano Saletti (Italy); Daniel Spassov (Bulgaria); Janne Strmstedt (Sweden) etc.

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