The meaning of Andrea’s Song which is dedicated to my son could be ‘The Man’s Song’. This new album is the result of a journey with many stopovers from Europe to Africa, calling for instance at Paris and Antananarivo. It was recorded both at my birthplace and at the place where I’ve been living.
In my music there is a union of Salegséga-Maloya rhythms coming from southern Indian Ocean Archipelagos called ‘Mascareignes’. There are as well rhythms which are ternary and binary at the same time, and compositions shaped like songs with or without lyrics: I’ve combined all my influences in it. Among them stands some swaying melodic nonchalance inherited from imaginary journeys to Brazil. I’m humming, talking and singing tunes as they sometimes do there, over a melodic bed of solo guitars and recorded voices in the choruses. And in that case my voice embodies the seventh string of my guitar.
These are some characters or ‘heroes’ who stirred my self-taught career: Elek Bacsik, Jimi Hendrix , Ramboatiana Etienne, Freddy Ranarison, , John Renbourn… musicians who consider their six strings guitar as an orchestra.
Vinicius de Moraes, James Taylor, Barijaona, S. Wonder, Jimi warm tones impressed me and influenced me a lot and finally made me discover new horizons for composition. But I was also inspired by listening to world music and songs broadcasted by Radio France at my debut, and as singing is everywhere, I especially like Jaco Pastorius who could draw guitar and bass lines as captivating as Sinatra’s voice for instance. The list is obviously far from complete…
I do have a great respect and consideration for the masters of tempo whose hearts I have been listening to during different projects. For instance: Bernard Purdie ,Paul Rako, Nana Vasconcelos , Steve Gad, André Ceccarelli. I’m trying to allude to some of their ‘groove’ and ‘swing’ in a beat box way. I won’t forget to mention the strength of their enchanting and captivating ‘Salagy’ rhythms, pure 6/8 rhythms coming from Madagascar. I like to simulate and reproduce them by using some unexpected musical tools that I have heard, listened and played with the great South African singer Miriam Makeba after fifteen years on the road in her band. For example I’m using those effects: "tongue clicking", "throat clearing" and even licks of "Zulu-guitar".
Besides I’ve got a great desire to surprise the audience. For I like to add to the language of folk guitar some Kora and Valiha sounds played on guitar with jazz scales and harmonies. This is mingled with finger picking guitar language. And here comes that "magic" with only a simple technical approach, very popular and also reminiscent of that great outdoors music born in America.
During my concerts, my little guitar, my voice and a stomp box on stage form what I call my one man-band. I don't use any sequencer or other such machines. I’m only narrating with music that I belong to many different cultures, either rich or poor, from the South or the North. I also communicate my great need for sharing what I’ve experienced. I’m trying to express this pot-pourri of all those many influences in a way to avoid contradictions.
Solo Razafindrakoto SOLORAZAF
Solo Razafindrakoto known as Solorazaf is a French guitarist born in Montpellier in 1956. His roots are both situated in France and in Madagascar. His musical style is very much influenced by these two different cultures and he then created a very personal musical style based on Malagasy traditional music.
Solorazaf was born in Montpellier of Madagascan parents, but left for the Big Island when he was six months old. Although he visited France regularly, he grew up in Madagsacar, in the village of his grandparents, in contact with the traditional music of the Highlands. He began playing the guitar at 12, and turned professional at 17, playing with rock groups which were already including local instruments.
At the age of seventeen, he is one of the first studio musicians in the capital city of Antananarivo. At Discomad Studio, the only recording studio on the main Island.¹
In a country where the music is as rich and vital as its flora and fauna,Solorazaf plays guitar, bass and drums on countless recordings for different artists from the various regions across Madagascar. Self-taught, his studio experience and exposure to so many musicians and so much indigenous music not only gives him the tools to become one of the most important practitioners of this music, it allows him to create a wholly personal style steeped in the Malgache tradition.
Solo (pronounced 'Sool') was 22 when, in 1978, he chose to settle in France where he has since had a double career as a musician and producer. He accompanied first Graeme Allwright until 1983, then Dizzy Gillespie and Miriam Makeba, (he is still her official guitarist today), created the group Namana (short-lived, but which produced an album), and handled the arrangements and artistic direction of the most recent albums of the author of "Jour de clarté." All this while travelling the world with his own compositions (in Boston, in the US, he was called the "revelation" of the L'Air du temps festival in 1995 and 1996).
In 1979, he moved to Paris and quickly established himself as an in-demand accompanist and session player contributing to the music of many great French recording artists in various styles of pop and world music. ¹
From 1998, Solorazaf plays with the quartet “Worlds of Guitar”. The group includes guitar masters Fareed Haque, Romero Lubambo and Aquiles Baez. During this busy period, however, Solorazaf was also the lead guitarist for the legendary Miriam Makeba. Solorazaf travels the globe touring for 15 years with Makeba. The world tours include among others “Live the future” with Makeba and Dizzy Gillespie, “The Three Divas Tour” with Miriam Makeba, Nina Simone and Odetta as well as the “The USA Tour:Tour of Hope” with Hugh Masekela & Miriam Makeba.
In 2001, Solorazaf begins touring his “Solo Guitar Performance”. He plays Europe, the USA and Canada. His solo concerts are widely acclaimed in the USA and Europe and according to a lot of world guitar press magazines,he establishes himself as one of the most innovative solo guitar player’s on the World scene.
He appears every year at the concert Autour de la Guitare created by Jean-Félix Lalanne in 2001.
His solo concerts are widely acclaimed in the USA and Europe and he establishes himself as one of the most innovative solo guitar player’s on the world scene.
Solorazaf’s songs are sung in his native tongue Malagassy, or French, sometimes a combination of the two, at times with a bit of English thrown in.²
Solorazaf also found time to create a music school called “Guitares Alliées”, (“Allied Guitars”). The school is created in partnership with The Alliance Francaise in the city of Antsirabe (south of Tananarive). The school is a place of theory and practice where the students improve their skills through a variety of instruction and documentation as well as through the help of audio-visual tools that Solorazaf has collected from guitarists-friends throughout the world.
"My favourite instruments are a walnut guitar with seven strings, composed of six strings on which is added a seventh one, a bass E string, in order to play the bass lines, because as I former bass player this is essential to me. And I also like my 'little' guitar, tuned in C, a very inspiring open tuning which allows me to play Malgasy music.
These instruments have been built two luthiers called A. and D. Hamel. I met them in Montreal for I used to go there very often. One day, I found a Semi-acoustic guitar. They make improved travel guitar or Silent guitar, a little bit like the gibsons. They are adapted to my way of playing. Thanks to these guitars I was able to get back the sound of Malagasy instruments like for example a short lute.
And I play another guitar called 'bigbee', which I made myself, tuned with one half in C, and another half in G and which sounds nicely with my open tuning.
I also use the footoy which is a kind of drums played with the feet. I invented it in order to get a good stability.
When I came back to Paris, I called on my friend Christophe, a guitarsit, and I turned them into Electric acoustic guitar because at first they already had a nice sound. These instruments really shows my soul.
But I have had common guitars like Stratocasters or Gibsons."³
One-man band, Solorazaf illuminates the stage by his presence and by the sounds he produces with his mouth, his feet and even his nostrils. And of course with his guitar with which he is a virtuoso. His presence is a delight.⁵
The Paris Magazine Sortie describes Solorazaf’s voice as “sweet as a dream”.
“Solo guitar illuminated by cascading traditional Malgache rhythms”. -- Télérama (Paris, France)
“Highly recommended” -- New York Times (USA)
“An musical inventor with the Malgache traditions at its foundation.” -- International guitar Festival of Rueil Malmaison - France
“One of the greatest performers I’ve ever seen on any string instrument anywhere… Phenomenal! -- Elombe Brath (Producer/Mediahost/African affairs consultant) “Solorazaf is simply superbe and magnificent” -Afropop – New York City (USA)
“A master of the 12/8 Salegy rhythm” -- Acoustic Guitar Magazine.
Awarded a "Choc" by Le Monde de la Musique. Awarded three stars by Le Monde de la Musique.
Parallel to his own personal performance projects, Solorazaf also produced several albums considered by the specialized press as essential to Malagasy music.
He also creates and co-produces: “Bilo” Malagasy connection with E.Manana, Nawal, Justin Vali.
1993 Guitare à balanciers. (a concept which pulls together the musics of Madagascar, folk blues and French chanson).
1999 9 pieces of bizarre.
( It is a solo voyage of lyrical guitar and voice: melodies and modulations tangled with propulsive, throbbing rhythms accompanied by a simple shaker or foot percussion.)
1999 3 rays of Rain.( This music shows off his ever-evolving style and originality).
1992 Malgache Connexion.(auvidis)
1996 Fruits du voyage.(mélodie)
1997 The moon and the banana tree.
2006 DVD Live "Rendez Vous A Melting Point"