Amiens France

In the beginning, was the VERB, and this is how our biography shall commence. A word, the same in French and in English - the manifestation if a thirst for belonging, beyond all borders. We shall start with the verb then, or in other words, with a trio formed a little over two years ago by two friends, graduates from the Conservatoire d’Amiens. Pianist Noam Duboille and walking bass player Charles Thuillier fouded VERB after meeting drummer Garcia Etoa Ottou. The sum of their ages does not even add up to the national age for retirement. The first and youngest is aged just nineteen and currently a student at the CRR in Paris, fingers brimming with talent. The second, less than two years older, is like the pianist, a native of the town of Amiens. He is currently studying a more classical repertoire at the Conservatoire de Douai, even playing for the National Orchestra of Picardy, yet also exploring a heritage firmly anchored in the art of improvisation, as practiced by his father, tubist François Thuillier. As for the third, born some 27 years ago in Yaoundé, he is a self-taught musician thanks to the gospel his father, a pastor, preached in church. He came to France in 2018 to hone his musical craft at the Conservatoire.
The trio took shape at the Charleston, a cafe in Amiens. An initial jam session quickly followed by rehearsals in the summer of 2022. Debut concerts the following autumn including the season opening for the prestigious Maison de la culture d’Amiens were shortly followed by an escapade to Comines, Belgium. The three knew they had a good thing going, a rock-solid alliance, and their repertoire gradually coalesced. Melodic hints, harmonic wisps, or the beginning of a beat - these are enough to spark a conversation likely to end up on a music score. “The essential elements were played by ear. Our repertoire came together as we rehearsed, when we would try out arrangements. The most important thing was to get on well”, summarises the bass player. They got on so well that the trio ended up taking part in the Jazz à Vienne competition, in the summer of 2023. The results were conclusive – first place, which offered them the possibility of cutting a record on the Komos label.

This naturally led to a triple entente involving each corner of this equilateral triangle. “We were ready for the album. It all went so fast”, adds the pianist. They took care refining their themes during a residence in a studio situated in the Maison de la culture d’Amiens. Then it took just one rehearsal to determine their entire repertoire, in October 2023, before the tracks were recorded at the studio Pigalle, in Paris, guided by the ears of Antoine Rajon, the label’s artistic director. “We recorded ten tracks and kept eight of them. Antoine guided us but ultimately gave us free reign. He wanted to retain the spirit of a classical jazz recording, like in the old days, even if some technical errors remained. What he wanted above all was to favour the energy of the group by seizing a moment in time.” And this is what their début album represents - the first chapter in a story written by three people.

Upon listening, we can make out what sounds like a declaration of love for the good old classic trio. Their references speak volumes : Bill Evans for the interplay, Keith Jarrett for the freedom, Oscar Peterson for the cohesion of sound, and a very special mention to Brian Blade with Chick Corea and Christian McBride for the Cameroonian. “Dialogue lies at the heart of our music. There is a lot of response between us, like a discussion where everyone is free to talk, not limited to mere accompaniment. This is why we chose this name, a reminder that we are highlighting language fashioned by three people, where rhythm sets the scene.”

“listening, sharing exchanging”, this essential triptych, according to Charles, forms a tripod for these three jazz lovers situated light years away from current trends such as the French new wave or the return to a jazz-funk inspired groove. And yet, if you listen between the lines, you’ll hear that they’ve definitely got swing. “For me, jazz is an emanation of gospel. One of my cousins introduced me to jazz-fusion, especially Weather Report. That’s how I got into this music, and I have sought to deepen my knowledge by coming to France. This music has changed so much with the times and allows [us] to create our own jazz”, insists Garcia. The two others are on the same wavelength. “This music allows for great aesthetic freedom, even if it is a catch-all phrase”, adds Charles who got into this music at an early age. Noam was initiated at the Conservatoire “where my classical piano tutor, Yukari Bertocchi-Hamada, advised me to get in touch with jazz professor Maxime Sanchez, as from a young age, I had always been drawn to improvisation”.

In the end, this authentic jazz record, was named Symbiose, a title echoed by the image on the sleeve representing a rhinoceros with a cattle egret standing guard on its back. The symbolism is apparent, “even if in terms of arrangements and improvisation, the initial idea does come from one individual”, admits Charles. This is why only two compositions are signed by all three of them : Charleston, a reference to the café in Amiens where it all started, and Colonel, "an improvisation [stemming] from a bassline, like an overplayed cliché”. This is true, yet the other tracks also bear witness to the band’s cohesion, as heard on LSF – “for La si fa, the first three notes”, says its composer, Noam Duboille – a piece starting on the piano before gaining momentum, much like Eding, “which means love in my mother tongue, Ewondo” adds Garcia Etoa Ottou. “It speaks of my mother, who I did not grow up with. I saw her again at 23, upon arriving in France. It represents my gospel feeling, and my love for music.” The track that rounds off the record, Doodie, is also autobiographical for the drummer, “for my son, but also a reference to the melody his mother used to hum when rocking him to sleep”. It only lasts four minutes, yet is crossed by multiple influences, which hint at even greater things to come.




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Symbiose - CD
VERB Symbiose - CD Release CD Komos
Sale price8,33 €
VERB Symbiose Release LP Komos
Sale price16,67 €