Interview | Samuel Blaser & Mathieu Ogier

Ellington, Desert Island et 78rpm Records

Samuel Blaser et Mathieu Ogier play at Le Périscope on September 16th. We asked them several questions to immerse ourselves in their musical reflection on the Ellington myth. 

How did you come up with the idea of mixing Sampling with Duke Ellington?

First of all we don’t do sampling. With Mathieu Ogier we started our collaboration in SONGS, a project I co-lead with the Franco-Argentine composer Oscar Strasnoy. I was immediately seduced by Mathieu’s atypical approach of using 78s to do sound manipulation. We were together and we read this article about Duke who said, “if I were to go to a desert island, I would take two things with me: a trombone and my collection of 78s.”.

We took this quote literally.

How did you envision the compositional work or exchanges between your two trombone/deck practices? 

That’s a great question. I honestly have no idea. This is really a first for me. I’ve never had the opportunity/desire to collaborate with a DJ before. In my piece Worksongs which I composed for SONGS, the music is written in full. In the score, I’ve indicated specific places for samples. In duet, it will probably be very different because improvisation will be predominant. We have pre-prepared and pre-selected material that we will work with during the week. I brought with me a small collection of mutes to vary the sounds. Our biggest challenge will be to create a captivating program for both us and the listener. 

What’s more fun in the end: deconstructing Duke Ellington or paying tribute to Duke Ellington?

For us, Duke Ellington’s music is sacred. We wouldn’t dare touch it. The most fun for us is to imagine Duke Ellington on his desert island with his trombone and his collection of 78s. 

What do you learn from this musical collaboration? 

We thank Duke Ellington for coming up with this idea!