Noon, Tuesday. The rehearsal is going well, even though it is in full swing at the Plaza Theatre. The first show of the tribute tour to Georges Brassens, offered by La Maison Fauve to celebrate the centenary of the said birth (and the 40th anniversary of his death, that is), bringing together a fine band of performers under the name Polissons de la chanson, takes place on April 30 at the Salle Pauline-Julien in Sainte-Geneviève. It comes quickly.
No time to waste. Or rather: no tempo to lose. We are gripped as soon as we enter. Mario Légaré’s double bass, pom pom, popom popom, seems to mark time on the (endless) stairs of the old cinema: we quite naturally follow the rhythm. No choice ! The whole body agrees. Happy to agree. The music suddenly stops: instinctively, we stop. And then it starts again. And here we go again on the stairs, we climb, we climb. And the beautiful voice of Valérie Blais resounds: “The dragons of virtue do not take umbrage / If I had had the honor to command on board / On board the Titanic when he was shipwrecked / I would have shouted: “The adulterous women first!” »
Vibraphone and “big fun”
A few more steps and we are there. The Plaza resounds, the Plaza purrs with ease. Here, there is also a vibraphone, it is François Lalonde who walks around the double bass. And there is in a corner the guitar of Yves Desrosiers, both discreet and very busy. There are variations in a song by Brassens. It must be confusing, we say. “Let’s take this opportunity to break a cliché concerning Brassens”, launches Michel Rivard straight out into our microphone. ” Yes, The gorillait’s on a note. But the science of chords and melodies at Brassens is amazing. When you attack a song, you not only have a text structure where each syllable has its place, but there are skillful, surprising, demanding and fascinating modulations in the music that never cease to delight you. »
To tell the truth, and they all say it, Rivard as much as Blais, the three musicians, Chantal Archambault as much as Michel-Olivier Gasse (the Saratoga duo), Luc De Larochellière as much as Ingrid St-Pierre (who was not there Tuesday, covidian caution obliges): behind the singer Brassens not too focused on the show, a fabulous craftsman hides to the cliché. The truth: the freest man of expression in French song is also the most disciplined. The mastery of the true art is at this price. “We all feel it, as we sing them, adds Valérie Blais. The more we appropriate the songs, the more we respect what Brassens asks so precisely, and the more we each discover the room for maneuver that it gives us. For me, it’s a lot of punctuation that allows accentuation, mini-pauses… the tools of a theatricality that gives dimension to the text. Brassens is intimidating, but not mean, behind his mustache: you have to tame him. Rivard exudes confidence while salivating with pleasure behind the sanitary mask. “There is really a way to have big fun… »
The cast of trumpets (of fame)
At four titles the pipe head, there is plenty to do. It is both a lot and a little, considering the 1500 pages of Complete Works (which include, of course, letters, prefaces, libertarian writings…). However, you have to choose. Between the obvious and the misunderstood, balance also requires a certain discipline. Freely consented, of course. “It was also distributed according to the personalities”, underlines Michel-Olivier Gasse. “Both of us have more good-natured songs, which we can approach in a naughty way, I would say. » Chantal Archambault specifies: “There was also the fact of being a girl and a boy, not all songs lend themselves to this. Initially, we do not want to shock the purists, and then we realize that Brassens has taken the side of women a lot. Much more than a Brel or a Ferré, to compare the incomparable.
Luc De Larochellière exults: it will be recess. “It remains pure happiness, this idea of a show, and this tour where we will perform almost every day. It’s light to live, we are together, no one carries the weight of Brassens alone. There, in rehearsal, we are in the phase where we solve the problems one by one, where we are confronted with the trapping, where everyone is looking for their marks and reacts to what Brassens demands. It’s a great discipline! This show, as long as no one gets sick, it’s good air. After the last two years, we receive Brassens as a gift, a reward. Let’s meet. And we play music. We don’t necessarily stick to the guitar-bass accompaniment. »
Slogan, do not chew words
We know it at least since I have an appointment–you with youthe show that the sublime Renée Claude had dedicated to the Brassens repertoire, with piano accompaniment by Philippe Noireaut: you can go far with the modest and sensitive Georges, without straying from the essentials. Thus, in the version ofIn the wood of my heartwhich seems made for Michel Rivard, there is steel tower which opens the horizon, courtesy of Yves Desrosiers. “This is where you realize the possibilities, rejoices the musical director of the adventure. We always stay close to the Brassens way, but not too much. We go for what works. It is a splendid challenge for us as well. Make music by leaving the best place to the texts. »
“No one is going to chew on Brassens’s words,” Rivard declares almost solemnly. We love them, words! Georges will keep an eye on things. Valérie Blais saw Brassens on stage, and Michel Rivard shook her hand. Only one degree of separation. For many spectators, it will almost touch it. For those who will discover Brassens — yes, it can! —, the occasion is to be cherished. All the participants share a very simple principle, which Rivard expresses perfectly: trust in the repertoire. The songs, as long as they are released in the open air, will have their effect. “I say: expose them! ” That’s all.