Andy Emler, composer, pianist, a catalyst of enthusiasm, initiator of collaborations, arranger, a lover of improvisation, is a man of invention.
After taking composition, harmony, counterpoint and fugue courses (Prize in counterpoint 1981 – variation for organ in the style of J.S. Bach and an orchestration class under Marius Constant – at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris) and Saturday night dances (rock, pop), he embarked on a variety of musical adventures with such notable musicians as : Antoine Hervé, Michel Portal, François Jeanneau, Woody Shaw, Trilok Gurtu…
An educator by taste, keen to follow the age-old tradition of passing on musical desire and pleasure over generations, and a composer (ONJ 86, La Bande à Badault, WDR Big Band…), he is equally successful working with small and large ensembles.
He created his own personal laboratory, the MegaOctet in 1989 with 8 of the 1980s generation’s “most flamboyant improvisers”, and was awarded the 1992 Django d’Or for best French jazz band of the year. This band left a huge mark on the early 1990s music scene.
Between 1994 and 1999, he was appointed co-director of the Scène Marnaise de Création Musicale, and took part in the collective adventure of POM, a big band of ever-shifting line-up.
In 2000, he formed a new incarnation of the MegaOctet, was artist-in-residence until June 2003 at the Espace Daniel-Sorano in Vincennes with the Compagnie aime l’air, which he formed with Thierry Virolle. He created “Pop Unit 2000“ with the MegaOctet, two dancers and video projections.
In parallel he performed in a duo with Philippe Sellam, in a trio with Denis Badault and Emmanuel Bex, and another with Claude Tchamitchian and Eric Echampard. He regularly works with Ars Nova and Pascal Contet on contemporary music projects and, of course, with the MegaOctet.
He also became in great demand as composer for many commissions for professional ensembles of all sizes as well as ensembles bringing together professional and amateur musicians.
November 2003 saw the release of “Tee time“ by the Emler, Tchamitchian, Echampard trio (which caught the press’s attention : “Emoi“ in Jazz Magazine, **** in Jazzman…), and “Bouts de souffles“, a duo with Pascal Contet.
Andy Emler and the Compagnie aime l’air were in an residency at L’apostrophe, Scène nationale de Cergy-Pontoise et du Val d’Oise, from September 2004 to June 2007.
Premiere for the MegaOctet with Michel Portal in November 2005 at Jazz au fil de l’Oise.
Concerts by the MegaOctet and the Emler, Tchamitchian, Echampard trio in France, Switzerland and the Baltic countries among others… He is also increasingly in demand for solo performances.
In October 2004, release of “Dreams in tune“, the new CD by the MegaOctet, to unanimous critical acclaim, and a nomination at the Victoires du Jazz 2005 for French jazz album of the year.
March 2006 saw the release of “A quelle distance sommes-nous ?“, the second CD by the Emler, Tchamitchian, Echampard trio. Press was again excellent : “ƒƒƒƒ“ Télérama, “Emoi“ Jazz Magazine etc.
Andy Emler is awarded the Django d’or “Sacem“ de la création 2006.
March 2007 saw the release of “West in peace“, the new MegaOctet album. Again it was ecstatically received by the press and profession alike :
- “Best French album 2007“ of the Académie du Jazz
- “Emoi Jazz Magazine for 2007“
- “Choc Jazzman for 2007“
April 2007 saw the premiere of “Childhood journeys“, composed by A.E for the MegaOctet together with Les Percussions de Strasbourg. Recorded by France Musique and broadcast in the l’UER européen. Commande d’Etat.
May 2008 saw the appearance of a DVD filmed in concert at the New Morning, Paris, in September 2006 with the E,T,E trio, the MegaOctet with special guest Marc Ducret.
On May 16th, 2008, Andy Emler celebrated his 50th birthday at La Coupole, scène nationale de Combs-la-Ville, with a repeat performance of “Childhood journeys“, with the MegaOctet and Les Percussions de Strasbourg, plus Elise Caron and Michel Portal…
Andy Emler and the MegaOctet were :
Victoire du Jazz 2008 in the “French artist or instrumental ensemble of the year“ category
Django d’Or 2008 in the “live performance Spedidam“ category
November 2008 saw the release of “For better times“, a solo album for multiple pianos. An achievement praised by the press for its depth and musical uniqueness.
The year 2009 marked the celebration of the MegaOctet’s 20th birthday. On June 30th, 2009, “Childhood journeys“ with les Percussions de Strasbourg was performed at the prestigious Salle Pleyel in Paris, with another performance five days earlier in Besançon.
In April 2009, the Emler, Tchamitchian, Echampard trio embarked on a second tour in the Baltic countries, and the MegaOctet was warmly received in Norway, Estonia and Finland.
June 23rd, 2009 saw the release on the Naïve label of “Crouch, touch, engage“, the new MegaOctet album, including a DVD of a performance filmed in September 2008 at Le Triton in Les Lilas. It was awarded both the “Emoi“Jazz Magazine and “Choc“ Jazzman !
Praise in the Press was unanimous in Le Monde, Les Echos, Libération.fr, the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Helsingin Sanomat, Les Inrockuptibles… The MegaOctet tours in France, Germany, Austria, Belgium and the UK.
Andy Emler was composer in residence in the Pays-de-Loire in 2009, and at the Fondation Royaumont 2009/2011 with numerous projects including the premiere of “Dionysos à Royaumont“ on October 10th, 2009.
In November 2009, “Crouch, touch, engage“ was awarded an “Choc Jazz Magazine/Jazzman for 2009“ !
It also featured in the shortlist for “Disques de jazz de l’année 2009“ in both daily papers Le Monde and Libération.
In early 2010 he was awarded the “Choc des lecteurs 2009“ by readers of Jazz Magazine.
As part of his residency at Royaumont, he composed and conducted the premiere of “Du Slam à l’Atlas“ for 5 soloists from the MegaOctet and 5 Moroccan musicians/singers, which was subsequently performed in Morocco in 2010 and 2011.
Andy Emler received, on July 13th, 2010, the Victoire du Jazz 2010 “instrumental album of the year“ award for “Crouch, touch, engage“ !
Beginning in late 2009, Andy Emler has given performances on pipe/church organ, playing both original compositions and improvisations, which in July 2010 led to an appearance at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, at Saint-Sauveur cathedral with Guillaume Orti (saxophone) and kora player Ballaké Sissoko…
On November 27th, 2010, a Django d’Or 2010 “confirmed musician“ ( !) for Andy Emler MegaOctet/“Crouch, touch, engage“.
In 2011, le MegaOctet toured in France and abroad, the trio Emler, Tchamitchian, Echampard trio discovered the UK, and pipe organ “classical“ performances with Laurent Dehors on clarinet conquered new musical territories and new audiences…
In May Andy Emler releases “Pause“, an album performed on the Cavaillé-Coll organ of the Fondation Royaumont with members of the MegaOctet. Choc Jazz Magazine/Jazzman.
On November 3rd-5th, 2011, the new Andy Emler MegaOctet repertoire is unveiled at Le Triton – Les Lilas, followed by a concert at the Tampere Jazz Happening (Finland) and a studio recording of the new music at the studio La Buissonne for the next MegaOctet CD.
May 2012 sees the release of “E total“, a new double CD by the Andy Emler MegaOctet, to critical acclaim : Jazz Magazine, le Monde, Citizen Jazz, etc. The package includes a film by Richard Bois. Jazz Magazine features the band on its cover, with a 14-page article on Andy Emler…
In October, the documentary “Zicocratie“ by Richard Bois, filmed during the preparation and recording of “E total“ is being edited. It has since been distributed by FNAC.
The Jazzdor Festival in Strasbourg invites Andy Emler, on November 9th, 2012, for a repeat performance of his work “Childhood journeys“ written for the MegaOctet and Les Percussions de Strasbourg, as part of the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the PDS.
On this occasion, “Obsisens“, a work by Andy Emler for the ensemble’s 6 percussionists, is premiered. The concert is filmed by a television crew and is later broadcast on cable TV (Mezzo) and the Internet (www.szenic.eu).
March 2013 marks the premiere of the show “Ravel“ on a text by Jean Echenoz, directed by Anne-Marie Lazarini, for which Andy Emler writes the music, which he performs live, and was awarded the Prix du meilleur compositeur de musique de scène 2013 by the syndicat de la critique.
January 2014 saw the release of the 3rd CD by the Emler, Tchamitchian, Echampard trio, “Sad and beautiful“, to critical acclaim – Choc Jazz Magazine/Jazzman. Concerts in France and Norway. The MegaOctet performs in Germany.
In July 2014, “Présences d’Esprits“ is released, with music by Andy Emler for the combined talents of the MegaOctet, Archimusic and Elise Caron on Radio France’s “Signature“ label. “Choc“ Jazz Magazine.
The 2014/2015 season saw an impressive series of new works premiered :
– Andy Emler “Tubafest“, for the Evolutiv Brass Quartet, Quatuor Cactus and Fact & Tom Caudelle duo, plus piano, 5 pieces François Thuillier’s tuba – late October at Le Triton.
– Andy Emler MegaOctet “Obsession 3“ receives its full premiere performances at Le Triton following a memorable concert at Jazz aux Ecluses in September.
– “How to be together“, a piece specially written for the Orchestre Dijon Bourgogne with students from Dijon’s PESM, in Dijon.
– Andy Emler “Open air“, for the Morphing saxophone quartet, the Ensemble Nomos, two percussionists from the Opéra de Paris, Guillaume Orti and Andy, in March 2015 at the théâtre du Garde-Chasse in Les Lilas.
– “Un été malmené“, a concerto for the ETE trio and the Orchestre National de Lille conducted by Jean-Claude Casadesus, late June 2015 in Lille and Liège.
– “Le fun des oufs“, début performance at the festival Musica in Strasbourg for 4 soloists and 4 concert bands.
In October, the 7th MegaOctet album, “Obsession 3“, is released to unanimous praise from the press.
Photo © Sylvain Gripoix