Such sad news. I've heard from several friends in France that Jacques Thollot has died. Although he was not a household name in the United States his contribution to the music I love was immense. As a kid he was playing as Kenny Clarke's replacement at the Blue Note and Le Chat qui Pêche clubs in Paris with Bud Powell, Chet Baker and other American jazz musicians. He had significant musical associations with Eric Dolphy, Barney Wilen, Karl Berger, Bernard Vitet, Sam Rivers among others. His 1971 recording "Quand le son devient aigu, jeter la girafe à la mer" (When the sound becomes acute, throw the giraffe in the sea) confounded some jazz fans, and became a prog-rock touchstone. His long association with Don Cherry's New York Total Music Company found him touring all over Europe. His compositions combined a wide variety of elements and influences and included intricate and surprising figures coupled with almost equal parts bombast and delicacy.
I was introduced to Jacques in 2011 when he attended a Fantastic Merlins concert at l'Ermitage in Paris. A few months later he invited me to join him as part of the Jacques Thollot quartet (with Tony Hymas and Claude Tchamitchian) for a concert at Sunside in Paris. It was something of a triumphant return to the stage after a very long absence. The music was really vibrant and alive, and the audience was enthusiastic and receptive. It was quite a night! We spent part of the next day in the recording studio, and discussed the development of a new Jacques Thollot Quartet record. Alas that never came to be.
I didn't know Jacques well or for long, but I felt an immediate bond with him. He was a beautiful soul.
I'm extremely grateful to Jean Rochard for introducing me to Jacques Thollot. First to his music, then to the man himself. And I count myself fortunate to have had the chance to play his music with him. We miss you Jacques.
Adieu et merci pour toute la musique, cher Jacques!