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brownie

Claude Nougaro dies

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Not strictly a jazz singer but he had a passion for jazz, Claude Nougaro performed songs related to jazz. One of his hits was a song called 'Armstrong'. Nougaro performed with jazz musicians throughout his career. His piano player was Maurice Vander. His organ player for a long time was Eddy Louiss. Pierre Michelot, Aldo Romano, Bernard Lubat, Richard Galliano all played with him.

He even had Ornette Coleman play on one of his songs 'Gloria' (Barclay) in 1975.

Nougaro died Thursday in Paris. He was 74.

One of my favorite current albums is a CD by Maurice Vander simply titled 'Nougaro' (Universal). Vander with Michelot on bass and Lubat on drums plays songs associated with the singer. A very lovely tribute.

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The death of Claude Nougaro is the main item on the frontpages of all the French national papers today. News of his death was also the prime news on French TV and radio newsbroadcasts all day Thursday.

This is an AFP obit:

PARIS (AFP) - The singer and poet Claude Nougaro, who helped keep alive traditional French "chanson" during the pop and rock invasion of the 1960s, died after a long illness, his agent said. He was 74.

In a career of nearly 50 years during which he recorded 20 albums, Nougaro developed a jazz-influenced style to deliver lyrics that mixed emotional sensibility with rich humour. He called himself "a baroque troubadour."

Among his best-known songs are "Jazz et Java," "Toulouse," "Cecile," "Une petite fille en pleurs," "Paris mai," and "La pluie fait des claquettes."

The son of an opera-singing father and a pianist mother, Nougaro was born in the southwestern city of Toulouse in 1929. He first worked as a journalist, but then wrote poems which he began to recite in cabarets and then had set to music.

"I am singer of texts who can just about keep rhythm," he said in 1997.

Though heavily indebted to jazz greats such as Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald , Nougaro said the French language meant he had to develop a different musical form to deliver his verse.

"For me jazz is too much bound up with the sound of the English language, which uses simple words. On the other hand the French language has a literary aspect which I have always loved," he said.

He also pioneered Brazilian rhythms in France and owed one of his biggest hits "Tu Verras" to Brazilian music great Chico Buarque.

Nougaro suffered from heart problems in later life and in 2002 stopped singing on stage, instead reading his lyrics aloud.

President Jacques Chirac described Nougaro in a tribute as "a master of French song, a real poet."

"With his immense heart, navigating between 'jazz and java' along the Garonne (Toulouse's river), Claude Nougaro brightened lives and memories with his words and rhythms," Chirac said.

"A voice full of force and feeling has just died," he said.

French Culture Minister Jean-Jacques Aillagon also hailed him as "a great artist with a distinctive style in which the poetry of words and tenderness of rhythms had a major place."

Nougaro will be buried in Toulouse some time next week, his agent, Charley Marouani, said.

A funeral mass is scheduled for Monday at Notre-Dame-de-Paris at 1030 am (0930 GMT).

Nougaro had planned to launch a new album next month.

Loved the Chirac tribute! Chirac's aversion to music is common knowledge. One of his counsellors wrote the tribute, I'm sure.

Forgot to mention on my original post that Nougaro put words to Charles Mingus' 'Fables of Faubus'. The song 'Harlem' was one of Nougaro's hits.

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Claude Nougaro was one of very few french "jazzy" singers. I discovered him when he released his comeback album "Nougayork", recorded in NY in the early 90's.

His homepage has not been updated yet, except a small ticker at the top. The latest entry in the news section ("L'actualité") is from october 2003 and says that Claude Nougaro is recovering from an operation and is working on a new album to be released in april 2004.

D64.jpgD2001.jpg

Edited by Claude

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brownie, would there be one CD you could recommend to get acquainted with Nougaro? I never heard anything by him.

That Vander album sounds good, though I guess it would be impossible to find here.

ubu

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brownie, would there be one CD you could recommend to get acquainted with Nougaro? I never heard anything by him.

That Vander album sounds good, though I guess it would be impossible to find here.

ubu

I bought the double cd "Best of live" which is great, most of his famous songs are on it and the recording is just superb.

Does anybody know if somebody put words (In English) to Mingus "Fable of Faubus" It is such a nice tune.

Nougaro version is great.

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brownie, would there be one CD you could recommend to get acquainted with Nougaro? I never heard anything by him.

That Vander album sounds good, though I guess it would be impossible to find here.

ubu

I bought the double cd "Best of live" which is great, most of his famous songs are on it and the recording is just superb.

Does anybody know if somebody put words (In English) to Mingus "Fable of Faubus" It is such a nice tune.

Nougaro version is great.

Mingus speaks/sings his own words together with Dannie Richmond on "Mingus Presents Mingus" (Candid) - an absolutely essential album!

I'll look for the best of live Nougaro disc, thanks.

ubu

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Sorry, can't help much on Nougaro CD releases because all the Nougaro I have are on LPs. I know there are a lot of compilations currently available.

Nougaro songs I love include 'La Pluie' (with beautiful piano by Maurice Vander), 'Bidonville', 'Armstrong', 'Cecile, Ma Fille' - which he composed when his daughter was born and is still a hit even now that Cecile reached 41 -, 'Paris, Mai', 'Tu Verras', 'Ile de Re', 'Sing, Sing, Song' (based on Nat Adderley's 'Work Song). A favorite song is 'Rue Saint-Denis'.

His way with the French language was pretty unique. You really have to understand French to appreciate all the nuances...

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His way with the French language was pretty unique. You really have to understand French to appreciate all the nuances...

tryin' to shy me off? ;)

ubu

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tryin' to shy me off? ;)

ubu

This was adressed to 'no one in particular' as the Great Art Blakey used to say.

If you're taking it personnal, I think that if you read Alfred Jarry's UBU ROI in French, then you should have no problem getting into Nougaro's words :P and nuances ;)

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tryin' to shy me off?  ;)

ubu

This was adressed to 'no one in particular' as the Great Art Blakey used to say.

If you're taking it personnal, I think that if you read Alfred Jarry's UBU ROI in French, then you should have no problem getting into Nougaro's words :P and nuances ;)

alright then, de par ma chandelle verte!

ubu B)

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Turns out that Claude Nougaro had just completed an album for Blue Note France when he died. Scheduled release date was April 2004. Nougaro's album will be titled 'La Note Bleue' (The blue note in French). It should be a jazz-oriented release. Barney Wilen already used the same 'La Note Bleue' title for one of his album.

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From today's IHT. Pretty good article as usual from Zwerin.

Nougaro, an appreciation

Mike Zwerin

PARIS The singer and songwriter Claude Nougaro, who died March 4 at age 74, thought of himself as a "black Greek, somewhere between Plato and Louis Armstrong."

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There is a bel canto tradition in the southwestern city of Toulouse, where he came from. His grandparents sang Berlioz and Wagner with local chorales. His mother was an Italian piano teacher, his father a featured baritone with the Paris opera. When the teenager Claude was asked what he wanted to be in life, he replied, "a poet." He read Baudelaire and Rimbaud and listened to Puccini, Edith Piaf and Charles Trenet. As he was being thrown out of several schools for what he called "silly capers," he was already thinking about being a "warrior of the soul, an artistic and metaphysical adventurer."

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He listened to Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole and discovered "another universe of expression made possible by the pure sound of language through the organic physiology of swing." Like his fellow chansonnier Serge Gainsbourg, Nougaro was going to have to work hard to coax swing out of a language that André Gide compared to "a piano without pedals." Nougaro loved to play with words. He wrote French lyrics to Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo à la Turk," Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight," Sonny Rollins's "St. Thomas" and Lalo Schifrin's "The Cat." His "Sing Sing Song" was based on Nat Adderley's "Work Song." Trying to play "le blues à la française," he released an album called "Bleu Blanc Blues."

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"I am aware, with a certain sadness," Nougaro said, "that this beautiful language of mine, which was once the planetary tongue, has given way to English. On the other hand, I do not understand Portuguese, but when I hear great songs sung by great Brazilian singers, I listen first to the swing and the melody and I am thrilled by their essence anyway. So I ask myself, if my language, which for Americans is only sound without meaning, if that sound together with my emotion and intensity and the quality of my voice will be enough to conquer their indifference."

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It turned out not to be enough. The marriage of the Portuguese language with Afro-Brazilian culture is unique and it swings harder and the sound is just better for the purpose than French. It's possible that another reason the French chanson has been so difficult to export is the vibrato at the heart of it.

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The vibratos that were so in vogue in popular music during the early 20th century - Guy Lombardo, for example - became slower and wider and gradually disappeared after World War II. The French Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt, whose vibrato was to die for, was nevertheless pushed into the ethnic music bins by more fashionable nonvibrating pickers like Charlie Christian, George Benson and Wes Montgomery. Tommy Dorsey's undulations gave way to the no-nonsense straight-ahead trombone sound of J.J. Johnson. The tenor saxophonist Lester Young's clear and classical tone snuggled into the collective ear, while his rival Coleman Hawkins, for all his lyricism, went out of style.

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Miles Davis's "Birth of the Cool" band in 1948 marked the end of the hot vibrato. It is not by chance that Dean Martin sounds dated and Sinatra does not - or that Gainsbourg was one of the few French singers to be appreciated by Anglo-American musicians. The uncool tremolos in the voices of singers like Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, Charles Aznavour, Juliette Gréco, Yves Montand and Nougaro tend to sound passé rather than folkloric to foreigners.

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But music, as Elvin Jones said, should be "judged on its own terms," and there is no doubt that Nougaro was one of the best. His voice was deep, expressive, in tune, he sang lyrics convincingly and he had very good time. His band was always top-notch. His stage presence was intense and powerful; he was compared to a bull. He claimed that his Toulousian accent was an advantage because it helps make the French language swing. His popularity helped soften the traditional Parisian prejudice against "the accent."

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He wrote some songs for Piaf, worked with the Brazilians Baden Powell and Chico Buarque, collaborated with Michel Legrand. By the 1980s, there was trouble with alcohol and his records were no longer selling and he decided to "change my blood type." Selling his house in Montmartre, he fired his impresario, dropped his record company - or his record company dropped him - and went to New York to record "Nougayork" with the funk producer Nile Rodgers, the ex-Miles Davis bassist Marcus Miller and other studio sharks.

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Nougaro owned the French rights to Charles Mingus's "Fables of Faubus," and since he was in New York anyway, he telephoned Sue Mingus, the bassist's widow. She was on her way out of town and lent him her West Side apartment and he found himself "being guarded by Mingus's two basses. My faithful sentinels. When I found out that Dexter Gordon was living in the apartment downstairs, I figured that New York was going to be good to me."

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Although "Nougayork" was a successful comeback album for him in France, it made no impression in the United State. When he died, his photo was on the front pages of French newspapers and the covers of the major magazines; it was hard to find a musician in the United States who had heard of him.

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When he died, his friend and drummer Aldo Romano, who lived in the singer's guestroom for more than a year, had been working with him on an album called "La Note Bleue," for the jazz label Blue Note. "Like many creative artists, he was full of self-doubt," Romano told l'Express magazine.

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Nougaro wrote songs about alienation, solitude, the night, women, the city. He felt that he just might be working "in the same mental landscape" as Maurice Ravel, Duke Ellington, Robert Schumann and Bud Powell. He "began to hear jazz with my eyes and see it with my ears. I was my own Pygmalion."

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