Erik Truffaz - Rollin'
It all started one evening at a festival in Angoulême. It was asked to Erik Truffaz to decompose film music. Film scores are a delicate business for a musician. They are the movies’ skin, their flickering souls ; they can also, in the worst instances, be no more than a backdrop for feelings, just meant to strengthen the narration. Truffaz delved into his memories as a cinephile, enthusiast and child to create this jazz tribute to the images it enhances.
He chooses an iconic piece as an opening. A melody by Nino Rota which is in no way a simple ornament - it is the dark and beating heart of La Strada. When Zampano, in his old and dishevelled suit, collapses on a night-scented beach, he takes one last look at the sky as the music melts away - a tragic circus song that Erik Truffaz turns it into a lullaby. The strings are tensed with infinite tenderness and the theme caressed by the flugelhorn, a prayer for love to last forever.
From the first track, it is patent. For Rollin’, Truffaz and his almost lifelong acolyte Marcelo Giuliani (who is co-producing the album, so they are essentially making it together) first put into writing their ideal lineup. One of the things that stands out in Truffaz’ career is his sense of casting and never sparing on supporting roles. Each one of his albums boasts a constellation of stars worthy of a Marvel film, a group of superheroes of textures and aesthetic collisions. For this one, Giuliani’s acoustic bass is joined by Raphaël Chassin’s percussions, Alexis Anérile’s keyboards and Mathis Pascaud’s Monk style guitar.
It is this gang that goes to town and bangs up a collection of photogenic tunes.
It does not stop there. We did not come here simply to butter sandwiches! Erik Truffaz attacks Monsieur Gangster, with a taste for composer Michel Magne’s riffs, cleaned up here by the Fender piano. It squeaks, it burns, it’s not as fun as venom. It all ends up scattered puzzle-style.
Little by little, this album’s intrigue imposes itself. Erik Truffaz inserts himself in all the films of his life. If you have seen him on stage before, you will understand that he is a film noir actor, with his felt hat and slender figure - we do not know if he is the good guy or bad guy, but he adds drama everywhere he plays.
His trumpet is Robert Mitchum leaving the games table to gaze at Marilyn Monroe in a red corset and black feathers. She sings One Silver Dollar, and it is our own Marilyn, Camélia Jordana, with the same nonchalance, the same bearing, who plays her role. Truffaz’s trumpet is in turn Louis de Funès, Jean Marais, facing a green-masked Fantômas who plots global destruction from a crypt with pipe organs.
The brass instrument jumps from one character to the next, it is the primary voice - the trumpetist has never sung so well than through these fictional avatars.
Then, Erik Truffaz’s trumpet dares to put on the ultimate costume, that of Miles Davis in Elevator to the Gallows, when the American musician improvised whilst watching Jeanne Moreau on the silver screen. This cover is a lesson of all things, a Himalaya of swing and cinema, done with the humility of big ascensions.
Rollin’ is also a children’s game, played at the end of the afternoon while you watch your heroes on the TV. They cover Danny Wilde, Brett Sinclair, the nostalgic afterschool theme tune, rewritten in a baroque seven-beat bar. It is an album which does not exclude B movies and bad movies and jumps from film d’auteur, Claude Sautet with Sandrine Bonnaire’s voice added here for good measure, to the improbable story of emeralds stolen by Belmondo and saved in extremis by the melodic genius of Ennio Morricone.
This catalogue of music is less of a cinema lesson and more of a feast of composers: Nino Rota, Michel Magne, Ennio Morricone, Alain Romans for Jacques Tati, Philippe Sarde, all the music-loving screenwriters, the superego geniuses whose scores moulded our imaginations. Rollin’ is almost a liberation guerilla: wherever Erik Truffaz’s band goes, it frees songs from their original functions. They are no longer scores subject to images, but miniature films bursting with stories and unheard of adventures.Erik's website here