Éric Séva inherited this love of new horizons from his father. A musician at heart, Séva Sr. worked as a metal turner in a factory during the week and traded his overalls for a stage costume on the weekend at local dances. Music was so much at the heart of Éric’s education that picking up an instrument seemed natural, and his father presented him with a recorder in 1969, at the tender age of five. By the mid seventies, Éric has traded his flute for a saxophone. This buoyant period saw the aspiring musician hone his melodic and harmonic skills with his father’s band in local dance halls while pursuing classical studies at the Paris School of Music.
Far from denying the world of popular music, Éric sees it as a force to communicate with the public, an inspiration that will never cease to feed his gifts as a storyteller. This appetite led him to jazz when he left school, under the protection of a neighbor and friend, cartoonist Jean Cabu, who would be an artistic catalyst for him. Equally decisive was his meeting with Dave Liebman, whom he joined in New York in 1990 to become his student, and who taught him the taste for cultivating his difference.
Within months, he had moved to New York in order to learn under the saxophone master who comforted him in his vision of the universality of music. Éric Séva has followed this motto ever since, while remaining faithful to his love of dance and rhythm when he writes. Although improvised music clearly was his priority — as proved his tenure with the French National Jazz Orchestra from 2005 to 2008 —, Éric used the studio as a proving ground, appearing on dozens of albums by the likes of Didier Lockwood, Chris Réa, Thomas Fersen, David Krakauer, Céline Dion, Henri Salvador, Michel Legrand, Sylvain Luc, Khalil Chahine, as well as international pop sensation Zaz with whom he recently made a world tour.
Eric’s interest in jazz has always been stirred by his love of freedom and hybridization. Eric typically widened his creative spectrum in 2005 when he recorded his first album, Folklores imaginaires, in which he explored the art of composing and improvising to the tune of his interior rhythm. His next recording, Espaces croisés, was hailed by critics four years later; Eric daringly showcased in it his mastery of the whole sax family, from the soprano to the baritone, asserting his creative independence in the way he projected his sound.
Several projects have followed since: Danse avec Bartók, Confluence (a translation for quartet and symphonic orchestra of Eric’s desire to trigger a fruitful confrontation between the jazz and classical worlds), the Nomade sonore album (2015), which reminds us that its creator is a traveler at heart; and Body & Blues (2017), a tribute to the blues.
Like the world of dreams, Éric’s musical realm is a translation of his imagination that transcends his relationship with the listener, making it possible for audiences to travel in his wake. And travel they do, with blissful glee.
In this vein, Éric Séva has just released his new septet album, ADEO, the result of a classical quartet (cello, alto violin, bassoon, bass clarinet) and his current trio (tenor & soprano saxophones, bass, drums). The album presents, around a singular chamber orchestra, compositions inspired by popular music around the marriage of timbres mixing woodwinds and strings, and one of the six Romanian dances of Bela Bartok arranged for this formation.
Written by Sebastian Danchin
Photo credit: Philippe Marzat
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