Saxophonist Sedric Choukroun, Press Cuts and documentaries
All About Jazz, Listen Up! Sedric Choukroun, Saxophone
August 2005 (…) TEACHERS: A big thank you to Parisian saxophonists Bernard Duplaix, Sylvain Beuf and Francois Theberge. My teachers are the musicians I play with. They teach me music and life, just like late trumpet player Charles McGee who put me in his big band, showed me how to build up a solo and play into a microphone, but also where to find affordable suits and fresh vegetables.
INFLUENCES: My grandma Hilda playing dramatic tangos on the piano and singing Spanish and Arabic/Jewish traditionals. Bach, Debussy and Ravel. French “musette” from the’30s-40s. African, Brazilian and Caribbean musics. Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Al Jarreau, Ellington, Basie, Ben Webster, Dizzy, Monk, Mingus, Charlie Parker, Coltrane, Rollins, Roland Kirk…
CURRENT PROJECT: I perform the music from my CD, In The Parlor (CAP) with guitarist Adam Rafferty, bassist Paul Beaudry and drummer Rob Asare Perkins. I also play the music of Duke Ellington for the kids in schools with pianist Marjorie Eliot.
BY DAY: Practicing, business phone calls and internet, a little walk to the post office, practicing again, iron shirt, polish shoes, pack up horns and go to the gig.
I KNEW I WANTED TO BE A MUSICIAN WHEN…: Still in the womb, I heard James Brown live. My mom said I was moving so much she got scared and left the concert. I begged my parents to buy a real piano when I was 8. I switched to tenor saxophone when at age 17 I heard Coltrane’s recording of “A Love Supreme”.
DREAMBAND: My life in New York as a musician is an ongoing dream. I’ve been fortunate to play with the same wonderful musicians for 5 years and develop amazing human and musical relationships…growing together! Nevertheless, one of dreamswould be to play with Mr. Sonny Rollins, both on tenor, just the two of us.
DID YOU KNOW?: I also graduated from La Sorbonne School of Law.”
Harlem Times, Harlem Jazz Parlor
November 2004 (…)The saxophonist, Sedric Choukroun, stands center with a clarinet, and begins “Come Sunday”, by Duke Ellington – almost a gentle march. By the time we get to “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To”, the band, sans amplification, is swinging Feet are tapping, fingers fiddling in laps, and people are doing their best to sing under their voices as best they can in deference to Sedric’s warm and breathy tone. A visitor from Europe expresses irritation at her companion’s inability to contain his energy. He shrugs with a smile and carries on with his dreaming. By the time Sedric begins to solo on an old blues, several hands are in the air testifying, and one of the elder ladies exclaims ‘Nobody told this French boy was going to take us to church!’(…)
All About Jazz CD review: Sedric Choukroun | CAP | “In The Parlor”
By Thomas H. Greenland,
“Sedric Choukroun is one of New York’s hidden treasures, a soulful man who speaks through his horn with gentle authority. An immigrant of French-Algerian heritage, Choukroun has been a central figure at Marjorie Eliot’s intimate Parlor Entertainment, where an extended “family” gathers in her Harlem apartment every Sunday to enjoy a uniquely hospitable concert environment. In the Parlor is the tenor saxophonist’s self-produced maiden voyage, a fine, multifaceted offering showing the breadth of his vision, with tunes that run the gamut from samba to funky soul-jazz to pensive ballads to bop waltzes. The mood overall is tender, unhurried–this is jazz for sipping, not guzzling, like the bottom half of an espresso. Choukroun’s breathy tone harks back to the romance of Johnny Hodges and Ben Webster, while his inventive melodic lines echo Sonny Rollins, an influence acknowledged in “Nigeamba” his reworking of “Airegin”. There are fine solos throughout “In the Parlor” -An Afternoon with April, Le Long de L’eau ,and Where You Come From -that build organically, peppered with unexpected stops and turns to keep listeners engaged.
Choukroun’s teammates on this outing create a cohesive group sound: drummer Robert Asare Perkins solidifies each new groove with solid time (listen to his second-line, press roll samba closing the opening track or his outro filigree on “She Shines”; bassist Paul Beaudry has nice moments during “Miles in Paris”, “An Afternoon with April” and “Because of Construction”; and a special commendation goes out to guitarist Adam Rafferty for his well-rounded, sensitive accompaniment and fine soloing on “Reverily”, “Because of Construction” and “Where You Come From” where he ignites in fiery pyromania.
While the recording doesn’t always capture the musicians’ sound to best advantage–Choukroun’s aspirated attack and Rafferty’s extraneous pick-on-string noises seem exaggerated at times–it heralds an important arrival of someone who won’t be a stranger for long.
Manhattan Times: New CD traces local saxophonist’s musical journey
By Mike Fitelston,
“It’s strange that tunes so steeped in cool can bring such warmth to a winter’s day. But that is the experience of listening to the debut CD by local saxophonist Sedric Choukroun. While this Frenchman come New York has been a mainstay of the Sunday Parlor Jazz sessions at 555 Edgecombe Ave. since he moved here several years ago, he can now be heard in local establishments Caffe X, Parkview Café, Emilou’s, and In Vino Veritas, both on the eateries playlists and for sale at $15 a disk. (It can also be purchased and sampled at www.sedric.net).
Those who have heard the lanky horn player at Parlor Jazz know that he has honed his chops considerably since debuting in 2000. (He has also recently shorn his golden locks). Choukroun left Paris to better steep himself in the Jazz tradition, moving into an apartment on Sugar Hill where the blues could waft up from Harlem. While he frequently blows fire at those intimate sessions, on CD his music is quieter, introspective.
What is evident from just the first few tracks of the CD, cleverly titled “In The Parlor”, is that Choukroun has absorbed a journeyman’s spectrum of styles. He moves from a bouncy samba rhythm in “Sunny Sky In Central Park” to the lighter sound of the 80’s in “She Shines”. Throughout, the sound of his tenor sax is a calling card of cool.
Yet there are no sideman’s tricks in this bag. This earnest music entirely composed by Choukroun. Backed by the propulsive rhythm section of Adam Rafferty on guitar, Paul Beaudry on Bass and Rob Asare Perkins on drums, the nearly hour of music has its moments of unbridled playfulness – the MTA inspired “Because Of Construction” comes to mind – but overall the album sounds like a serious summation of his decision to leave Paris and settle in Washington Heights.
On “Miles In Paris”, which could as easily be titled “Sedric In New York”, a somber bass line back by guitar introduces a bluesy mood, followed by Choukroun’s longing solo. His playing paints a reminiscence of a smoky nightclub scene. But Choukroun blows away this oral portrait of nostalgia with a swinging passage matched by an upbeat tempo. It is as if any lingering homesickness for Paris has melted away in summertime sunshine. Then the aching mood returns, reintroduced by a quiet bass solo. What lingers is the impression that this is a man who has settled in Washington Heights, but Paris is not far from his mind” January 27, 2005.
Times Online: Jazz in the afternoon
By Sam Knight, Times Online Correspondent,
“(…) After the spiritual, This Little Light of Mine, Marjorie gave over to the concert bill, all professional musicians – Don Moore on bass, Sedric Choukroun on saxophone, flute and clarinet, and her son, Rudel Drears, on the piano. And, next to the Christmas tree decorated with plastic quavers and candy canes, they started to play.
They played the kind of music you want to hear on a Sunday afternoon, absorbing music that jazz-foreigners can enjoy without feeling left out, but with enough subtlety to make the experts nod and laugh. Marjorie squeaked and clapped from the kitchen, calling out “Yes! Yes! Yes!” at the good bits, while the quiet majority just let the music wash through them.
Listening to jazz this close, this domestic, mixing with door-handles and light-switches, was consuming. You could hear the swish of the pianist’s blazer, the thock of saxophone keys hitting their pads and the little, burst “huhs” of Don Moore, who seemed not to breathe when he played his bass but to exhale through his fingers. There was nothing to do but listen, and think, and lose yourself in the conversations of bass and piano and saxophone.
And the musicians appreciated it too. “You remember what the music is about,” said Sedric Choukroun, who switched from clarinet to saxophone to flute as the afternoon went on. Sedric, who is French, first played at Marjorie’s four years ago, when he happened to have his saxophone with him and Marjorie asked if he wanted the next solo.
“I had 50 seconds to put my horn together and get in here,” said Sedric on Sunday, during the break. “I played very simple, I was nervous, but everything I did, they understood me, they were like, ‘Yeah, I know what you’re trying to do.’ And I thought, ‘Finally, they understand me.’”