••• I was to enter high-school, when we came back to France, at the 'Institut Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix', Neuilly s/Seine. Having lived in France before sure made the transition much easier. Plus

••• Music was more of a listening (and party-ing) experience, and nobody paid much attention to something that happened to both my brother Idriss and I, from the early days of our return to France: as he joined a college band as bass player, and fearful of him being dragged into drug-fested environments, my parents pressed me to go take him out of those evil's grips. And there I went, to one of their rehearsals, just to check. Then I went to another one, then another one again. Soon I was to join the band, even though just in fantasy: I was appointed 'organ-player' of the band, without a hint of an organ around; we simply could not afford one. Plus

••• Then my parents bought ... an upright accoustic piano. My initial disapointment rapidly vanished as I started to spend time on it. Both my sister and I got piano lessons, only for a few months as the family was to move quickly to another flat in Paris. Mouni pursued the lessons for about another year or so; but I felt either too lazy or too impatient, or both, to carry on, which of course was a mistake. You never learn too much.

••• But more of a concern, I had trouble catching on my schoolmates in maths classes: France had switch to 'modern' maths years before Africa. As I was just about average in maths over there, the gap felt much too wide to fill, when I joined the 'scientific' lane in 7th grade. I rapidly lost faith in my ability to make it. This decisively blurred my avionics future. I ended up finishing a brilliant 12th grade in litterature & philosophy lane ...

••• Meanwhile back to chapel in my own school, I could try some organ, church-organ of course. The timbres would naturally lead me to 'classical' improvisations, and I loved it. Plus

••• But also back from Africa was that relentless love for the dance. And dance meant bass guitar, and bass meant dance. Bass gave its player the most elegant posture on stage; it was the element that gave any pulsating rhythm its 'raison d'être'. Plus

••• Then I discovered Stevie Wonder's 'Talking Book' and 'Innervisions' albums. Both albums ended up being my tutorial books in songwriting, instrumental and vocal performing, producing, everything, for years. I spent countless hours in the dark by the the piano, working to decypher the marvels that each listening endlessly provided.

••• Individually bouncing from college band to college band, Idriss and I finally got involved in a set that we called 'Kumba', with genius Alain Toko on guitar. We would rehearse endlessly rue Montyon, Paris 9th, in a poorly lit cave owned by occasional singer from Guadaloupe, Tony Leveillé. We would perform Jimi Hendrix songs and afro-beat compositions of ours, mainly at college celebrations and various MJC (Maison des Jeunes et de la Culture).

••• And one day, Alain Toko and his brother Brice Wassi (drums) played us a record that would be another blow at everything I thought keyboards were all about. The music within seemed as strange as the artwork itself: Herbie Hancock 'Thrust' album was to become my third tutorial document for years too.

••• Having done some summer job, I had enough money to afford my first keyboard, at long last. It was an Hohner Electra Piano that I bought from jazz pianist Nico Nissim. Plus

••• We were later joined by school mate Jerôme Thirriot on percussions, occasional jazz lover Jean Favreau on tenor sax, and my sister Mouni on vocals. Favreau, who was in charge of the Théâtre 71 de Malakoff programs, got us our first 'professional' show. According to friends (the majority of the audience), it was a great show. For us of course, it was a rather traumatizing experience as we were so unprepared and totally ignorant of live performance basic principles.

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Sun, Jan 3, 2010

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