I arrived in Paris only to find out that a Nation wide strike is affecting train services. As a result, I found myself taking the RER B to Paris, which was full packed with travellers and commuters. It took over two hours to arrive at Gare du Nord to connect with a metro to head over to IRCAM to meet with my old friend and one of France's most important pianist of his generation, the wonderful Benoît Delbecq. I met Benoît in 1995 at guitarist Tony Wilson's birthday party in his backyard at his old digs on Gladstone Street in Vancouver. We ended up taking for hours about our musical concepts, aspirations, and projects. Although we would not realize it at the time, this meeting has turned into a deep and fruitful life long musical friendship. If there is such a thing as a music soulmate, Benoît is it for me. We have collaborated on so many projects over the years, recorded 6 or 7 CDs together, and have toured Europe, Canada and the USA together on several occasions. It is always a joy to reconnect with such an inspiring human being!
Benoît is currently working on a new piano and electronics processing set up using an array of software including Improtek, Mobius, and Lemur, to generate the most complex clouds of sonorities and polyrhythmic multi layered music. He is benefitting from a collaboration with three other musicians and sound artists in preparation of a performance to open the Centre Pompidou exhibition on the Beat Generation on June 22nd, as part of IRCAM's Festival Manifeste.
On my second day here, I set out to have a crêpe breakfast and a visit to Centre Pompidou to see the amazing Paul Klee exhibit. I got to see many of his early drawings, as well of some important work created around the Second World War. Klee's work was partly influenced and inspired by music, so it was a propos for me to purchase a copy of his Theory of modern Art, which includes his imaginative sketches on form and structure, an inspiration in turn for many creative musicians (including Benoît, who's compositions are often inspired the work of visual artists and writers).
While hanging out with Benoît in studio 5 at IRCAM, he introduced me to Michelle Agnes, a remarkable compositor who originates from São Paulo, Brazil. She's currently working on chamber music compositions, as well as designing piano performances using magnets. We arranged a meeting on to discuss her processes, as I am very interested about the compositional process and instrumental preparations.
A fine couple of days in great company in Paris!