WHISPER OF A SHADOW
MUSICAL CONVERSATIONS WITH LOUIS MOREAU GOTTSCHALK
Whisper of a Shadow Opus 1 is the first in a series of albums that follows the musical creative exploration of French composer and trumpeter Yohan Giaume tracing the musical diaspora between Europe, Africa and America. Through the 19th century lens of Louisiana romantic composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s journey, the album is a result of an imagined conversation between two composers – Gottschalk, a Louisiana native of creole descent and the album’s conceptualist, Yohan Giaume – representing two different eras and two different cultures, New Orleans and France.
In the first opus of Whisper of a Shadow, Giaume pays homage to New Orleans and is distinctly African American culture and weaves a multi-genre musical travelogue encapsulated throughout the album’s operatic arias, Afro-Creole melodies, gospel tempos, spoken word romantic poetry, Congo Square’s rhythms, a funeral march and more. The 11 tracks represent Giaume’s first album as a bandleader with original compositions and arrangements which seek to interact with Gottschalk’s sources of inspiration re-imagined in a contemporary fashion.
Giaume collaborates with renowned musicians from both sides of the Atlantic with an emphasis on New Orleans based artist, Evan Christopher (who also co-directed with Yohan the compositional interpretations). Amongst the 23 artists on the project feature drummer Herlin Riley, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, bassist Roland Guerin, pianist Aaron Diehl and a French string quartet.
Other special guest is poet Chuck Perkins; accented by Caribbean percussionists and singers as well as Louisiana based trombonists and tubists.
The origins of Whisper of a Shadow were conceived 15 years ago when Giaume began to immerse himself in different foreign cultures mainly guided by his love for the music of the African diaspora. He explored Cuba, Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, Morocco, Europe and different places throughout the United States.
Giaume started his initiatory journey spending as much time as possible outside his native country after his academic studies to immerse himself in different musical traditions, to be connected to the ancestor heritage and understand what is hidden behind the notes.
“By exploring these cultures from inside, traveling back and forth to different countries seeking the roots of the music, I started to discover pieces of the puzzle of the musical family tree and the links that interconnects the cultures I have visited,” says Giaume. “Music is like a tree, everything is connected, every musical line or rhythm you play is the shadow of something that came from somewhere and it is fascinating to me to see how cultural heritage continues to exist after centuries of geographical transformations. It shows how music is powerful, essential in a society, and how vital it is to have some continuum from the past to present time.”
Yohan Giaume began in Cuba and South America, but it was New Orleans that left him rapt. “I had a strong feeling of recognizing a part of myself in that culture and city,” Giaume explained. He also made an unexpected discovery along his journeys in the crescent city: Louis Moreau Gottschalk, the Louisiana romantic Creole composer and pianist, had taken almost the same route in his travels as Giaume did two centuries apart. During Gottschalk’s time, he was one of the first, if not the first, American composer to inspirationally embrace Afro-Creole music. Gottschalk was heavily inspired by Afro-creole folk songs that his Haitian nanny sang to him when he was child.
Whisper of a Shadow in summary is much more than a musical album. It is an artistic invitation to slow down, step back from our time, enter into a journey through times and spaces, and celebrate what a multicultural experience can offer. “I found my roots through my journey in the culture of others,” says Giaume, “which were entwined with so many others. We all have a shared commonality even if nothing suggests it; but to discover it, one must go out of one’s own comfort zone to explore it.
Yohan Giaume (Compositions / Arrangements / Musical Director / Trumpet)
Evan Christopher (Clarinet / Collaborating partner)
Aaron Diehl (Piano)
Herlin Riley (Drums)
Roland Guerin (Bass)
Tristan Liehr (Violin)
Louis-Jean Perreau (Violin)
Emmanuel Francois (Viola)
Thomas Ravez (Cello)
Additional musicians :
Nicholas Payton (Trumpet)
Terrance Taplin (Trombone)
Greg Hicks (Trombone)
Matt Perrine (Tuba)
Chuck Perkins (Spoken word / poetry and lyrics)
Nell Simmons, Kid Merv, Troy Sawyer, Casme Barnes, James Germain (Choir)
Philippe Makaïa (Vocal and Percussions)
Bago Balthazar (Percussions)
Bruce Sunpie Barnes (Lyrics)
Recorded at Esplanade Studio in New Orleans
by Misha Kachkachishvili assisted by Jesse Snider
Recorded at Sextan Studio in Paris
by Vincent Mahey assisted by Arthur Gouret.
Mixed by Steve Reynolds
Mastered by Gene Paul and Joel Kerr at G&J Audio, Union City, NJ
Executif production by Yohan Giaume.
Produced by Life Celebration Project with the support of the French-American Jazz Exchange, a joint program of FACE Foundatioon and Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, with generous funding from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Florence Gould Foundation, Andrew W.Mellon Foundation, Institut Français, French Ministry of Culture, and Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs de Musique (SACEM), New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region (France) , MNOP, and all the Kickstarter contributors.