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thomas savy



Thomas Savy has just released a CD in trio with Scott Colley on bass and Bill Stewart on drums.

It's really great - original compositions and his own spirit and view of music bursting out of every seam.

This trio sounds fantastic - 3 awesome musicians  - a bunch of great tunes written (brilliantly) for the project - a great studio - 2 days recording time.


I expect you have all heard Scott Colley and Bill Stewart on lots of recordings.

I have never heard anyone play the bass clarinet like this apart from..... Thomas Savy !

Anyone who has every tried playing the clarinet will be amazed at his monstrous technique, enormous range and breadth of colours...

Anyone who hasn't will just hear music music music.


I don't like "reviews" where people write what happens in each tune on a record, what's the point?

I hope you will all just get a copy of this because and listen to it.


thomas savy


Amy Gamlen interviews Thomas Savy :


Please tell us a bit about your latest CD !

How was it to work with these musicians and sound engineers?


It was like a dream. Joe Marciano at Systems Two, Brooklyn, made the sound in...twenty minutes.

We rehearsed in Manhattan for three hours, the day before the recording session. Scott Colley and Bill Stewart were very helpful, very involved and concentrated.

The studio and the musicians were wonderful, so I actually had no pressure at all, I just had fun. Playing in such conditions is easy!


So was it fun to write for this project? Please tell us a bit about your

approach and influences:


I don't know... When the pencil starts writing on the paper, everything is ready in my head, I just press the "Print" button. I wrote these tunes thinking of a trio: a lot of space, and a lot of energy to make this space live. My bass clarinet was on one side, my electric bass on the other one (I always find bass lines on my bass, thinking of... the real bass player).

Influences: so many... I can't really say. But it was fun: I was looking forward to being there, and I tried to write some music that would work at once, except for one or two tunes, maybe.


What were your impressions of the big apple?


Fascinating, terrifying, beautiful, excessive... Everything has been said or written about New York. Museums are wonderful, there was a Francis Bacon exhibition at the Metropolitan,...

And music, of course. I heard five or six different bands in one week; be-bop, jazz-rock, blues, funk... And what surprised me was... Rhythm. If the band is good, it's tight, whatever the style is.


How do you see the value of the "american project" in your career, as a

"European" musician - is there a "divide" between Europe and the States?


I don't think there's a divide... If the project is interesting for all involved musicians.

My goal was not to do a recording with famous american musicians; it was to do a good recording with great musicians. Without the safety of "being home", and trying to concentrate on essential things: time, sound, energy.


Please tell us about your current local projects too:

I'm working with Amy Gamlen, a stunning composer and saxophone player. 

She's definitely one of the most accomplished musicians I've ever worked with, I mean it. (Thanks Thomas, check is in the mail!!)


I also work with Christophe Leloil, a fine trumpet player and composer, who wrote a whole suite for a sextet (trp/flg, as/ts, bcl/bs, p, b, dr). We recorded this music and "E.C.H.O.E.S." was released on the "AJMI series" label last year. It's beautiful.


Christophe Dal Sasso (fl, comp) has a new big-band project that I'm involved with (including saxes, trumpets etc... but also alto flute, french horn, bass clarinet). Very modern and interesting music. The first record ("Exploration", Nocturne) was all Christophe's compositions, with David Liebman as a special guest and soloist. The next one should be done at Fall, this year.


And, of course, the Belmondo bros! I performed in Lionel and Stéphane's band several times with Yusef Lateef, it was wonderful... and also with Milton Nascimento. Great experiences.


I haven't performed with Steve Potts (ss, as) for a while, but we'll meet again, I'm looking forward to this, he is such an incredible musician and person.


I used to do a lot of "classic" big band stuff on the tenor and the baritone saxophones, I don't do it very much these days. Big bands die of never playing... I don't really feel like playing that music anymore, so anyway.

As a bass clarinet or saxophone player, you don't work as a sideman that much, except in large ensembles. So at this time I'm concentrating on my position as a leader, with my trio. And the gigs I have as a sideman in those other bands are pure happiness: it's all friends, real friends, that I've known for ages.


So how did you get started on the clarinet and what made it stick, knowing that you are a great saxophone player too?

Please tell us a bit about this and your musical path so far:

I fell in love with the bass clarinet at the age of fourteen, while I was a classic b flat clarinet student. At the same time, I was listening to jazz (all sorts of!) and Lester Young, Dexter Gordon and John Coltrane made me want to play the tenor sax.

So I paid my dues and learned a bit of the traditional side of this music. Big bands, standards, singers,... I always knew, somehow, that the tenor related me to the history of jazz, but was not really my instrument. I can't play the tenor without thinking of who it might sound like! 

The bass clarinet is a different case: there's Eric Dolphy, and then the whole free tradition, especially in France (Portal, Sclavis). All masters of this instrument. But I come from somewhere else, so I feel free of any influence. I'm not even sure of the sound I want to hear, and I'm still searching after twenty three years... it's fun.

To me, the saxophone will always remain... a lovely prison.


What are you thinking about when you play?

I do not think of anything but rhythm and relaxing.

If you are relaxed, you may swing, build, breathe. If not...


What and how do you practice, now and in the past?

I'm the laziest man on earth... When I practice on the bass clarinet, I do looooong notes, scales, and then I play the Bach cello suites with the original cello score, Bärenreiter. No jazz! 

Actually, when I start playing something else, it usually leads me to music writing: improvised phrases turn into a song. It happens twice a year... 


Please tell us what instruments you play and the set ups you use:

Bass clarinet: Vandoren B50 mouthpiece, reeds Vandoren 3 1/2; bass clarinet Selmer Privilège, a Rolls Royce!

Tenor: Link 9* metal or Selmer Soloist G, reeds... whatever; Selmer Balance Action, # 29... auld tenor with big huge enormous sound. Right now, there's a spider web in the bell... I'll come back to my tenor someday.

Soprano: Link 7 rubber, reeds... any, not too soft; Semer Mark VI

Baritone: Berg Larsen rubber 105, reeds vandoren V16 #3; Selmer Mark VI

B flat clarinet: B 40 Vandoren, reeds Vandoren V12 3 1/2; Selmer Saint Louis


You have spent some time in the UK - please tell us a little about that:

I went to London as a student for a collaboration between CNSM and Guildhall, to do a concert at Barbican Center with George Russell. It was difficult for some reason, but in the end it was fun. I found that english jazz students were very good, and some of the people I met then are now important working musicians in UK.

Otherwise, I like Scotland very much, mainly for... extra musical reasons. The sea, the wind, the rain and the sun and the rain and the sun, the light, people, landscapes, piers, smells, peat, stones, it's a part of me which actually makes me write a lot of music (Atlantique Nord, Stones...).

My first record (Archipel, 2006) was a sort of a tribute to the sea. As a sailing instructor in french Britanny, I've spent weeks and weeks of my life sailing and building myself on the sea, even though I've never been a good sailor. And the Atlantic Ocean (my father's family comes from Bordeaux, and I've spent summer holidays on the Atlantic coast since I was born) will always fascinate me. This is why I like being in Oban, or in Islay: I just feel home.

Whisky's good there, too.


Which contemporary artists do you particularly appreciate and find inspiring?

Wayne Shorter.


What is at the top of your CD pile at the moment - what are you listening to at home?

Magnificat- JS Bach

Transition- John Coltrane

All of Wayne Shorter

Radiohead- OK Computer and Kid A


So, these amazing french cakes : what are they and how can we make them?!

Oh yes... les cannelés.

I'll teach you if you come earlier and take the right metro line...


Were you aware that after we left your house, you pointed us in the wrong direction for the metro?

We've discussed this before.


How many whiskies did you drink before supper???? !! ha ha !

Same answer.


We had a lovely night - thank you!






Je t'embrasse très fort





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