One of his favourite areas in jazz and one he's still seriously investigating today - and which incidentally also earned him a Villa Medicis Off-Site Award in 2003, with a grant enabling him to spend time in New York, is the spiritual element in Jazz. This principle underlies his Nine Spirit Company, a large ensemble founded in 1999 in response to a commission to play the sacred music of Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders and Albert Ayler. The group comprised such talented soloists as pianist Carine Bonnefoy, trumpeter Chistophe LeLoil, saxophonist Thomas Savy, drummer Mourad Benhammou and multi-instrumentalist (percussion, drums, singer) Jean-Luc Di Fraya and soon became the perfect place for experimental, in-depth research and work on the relationship between jazz and the spoken word, which becomes a musical element in its own right in this context.
This vital principal of the chance encounter - one that runs permanently through the history of jazz and is one of the decisive elements in its development - has led Raphaël Imbert to work with many outstanding musicians, including the Chemirani Trio and the Contraste Ensemble, and to record his Suite élégaique with Yaron Herman of the Newtopia Project, released in 2006 on Zig-Zag Territoires. This album earned him First Prize in the Paris La Défense National Jazz Competition in 2005.
The key project in his artistic approach, BACH COLTRANE was released on 31 January 2008.
This unusually homogeneous album gives Raphaël Imbert the chance to delve deeply into the riches of an aesthetically pleasing, universal imagination; his explorations give rise to the narrative tissue of a fantastic "journey without borders" of dynamic originality, based on the work of two absolute giants in the arts of improvisation and composition:
NEW YORK PROJECT, released in September 2009 features Joe Martin on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums.
"I have great faith in memory. Like Duke Ellington, I believe a musician needs memory and memories in order to play, create something new". Raphaël Imbert applies this axiom to his compositions, palimpsests of his New York trip devoted to the sacred element in Jazz... John Zorn, John Coltrane and Duke Ellington are part of this project, as are all the feelings New York inspired in Raphaël Imbert's creative imagination...
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