TamTam Books News

Tuesday, November 04, 2003:

This is from the liner notes to Alain Goraguer’s "Go-Go-Goraguer" by Alain Tercinet. It’s a fantastic album, and it is part of the "Jazz in Paris" series put out by France Universal. This is series no. 74.

On May 29th 1953 a commando launched an assault on Town Hall in Paris’ 5th district. Basically they were all musicians from the south of France, determined to do battle with their opposite numbers from the north of the Loire River. And the pretext? The finals of the "Amateur Orchestras Tournament", the seventeenth such competition organized by Charles Delaunay. Leading the southern group called the "Hot-Club de Provence" was Bob Garcia, whose victory was fiercely contested; from Nice, aged barely sixteen, there was Barney Wilen, who won the "Consolation Prize." But it was a Parisian who ousted the Provençal keyboard champions Georges Arvanitas and Alain Goraguer (who was from Nice by adoption): René Urtreger’s victory over Goraguer was only obtained by the shortest of hairs…

The following year, in November, Alain Goraguer met Boris Vian, who had decided to perform his "possible and impossible" songs himself. Not content just to write the music for such masterpieces as Jebois. La java des bombes atomiques, Le petit commerce or La complainte du progres, Alain Goraguer became his regular accompanist in June 1955. He made appearances at the "Trois Baudets", and toured with Vian for better or worst: Le déseteur, which was "a violently pro-civilian" song according to its composer, was far from unanimously approved by audiences, and in the town of Dinard, Boris’ concert – short as it was – almost turned to fisticuffs. After becoming one of Philips’ house producers, Vian continued to work with Goraguer, now one of his best friends, and together they wrote the immortal Fais-moi mai Johnny and Strip-Rock for Magali Noel… But in 1957 the record-company asked Goraguer to help a newcomer to the scene, someone with a knack for distilling strange unease onstage, an uneasiness identical to that provoked by Vian, whose influence the newcomer willingly recognized. His name was Serge Gainsbourg:
"The contact was immediately fantastic. Three days later we were inseparable."

Goraguer became Gainsbourg’s orchestrator and arranger over a period that produced some superb albums – "Du chant a la une,"
"L’étonnant Serge Gainsbourg" and "Gainsbourg Percussions" – and Goraguer assisted him in composing the original soundtracks for the films "L’Eau a la Bouche" ("A Game for Six Lovers") and "Des Loups dans la Bergerie" (Jazz in Paris Vol. 71). This film-music specialty was extremely demanding, and Goraguer succeeded wonderfully at it, often allowing his love and knowledge of jazz to shine through – just listen to his score for "J’irai cracher sur vos tombes" ("I Spit on Your Graves") on Jazz in Paris Vol. 49.

Boris Vian had great admiration for Alain Goraguer’s talents as a pianist:

"First of all, he has a certain number of original ideas. There aren’t many who do. Next, he has impressive technique already. Third, he has a quality that I may be too sensitive to when it comes to the piano: his touch (even if I do think you can’t be too sensitive to that particular quality). Finally, he's got attack, and impressive oomph."

So it’s not surprising that Vian spent his first two sessions as a Philips producer taping the music for "Go, Go Goraguer". We can never thank him enough for that.

Tosh // 11:14 AM

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