“Keep that music simple…” Dr. John
CONSIDERATION, ROCK ‘N’ ROLL WITHOUT AN ATTITUDE
“Black music triggered the most important cultural upheaval of the past hundred years. It’s provided us with a whole new grammar of sounds, rhythms and harmonies, as well as a different way of considering others. No human relationship can bear fruits unless it is based on consideration. Otis and Aretha didn’t tell us anything else when they asked for R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Lack of consideration is probably the greatest ill of our broken society.” J.J. Milteau
Mike was born in Chicago, the world capital of the blues, before flying off to California where he worked with Quincy Jones ; Ron was brought up in the church where he used to sing with his mother, then moved on to reggae music, and Manu learned to play the guitar listening to French bard Georges Brassens and the hits of the Beatles before he heard Muddy Waters and B.B. King.
J.J. decided to bring them together with a simple idea : play naturally. A few sound checks, backstage rehearsals, emails and hotel rooms later, they came up with this Consideration, an album that reflects the musical and human ideals they have in common.
The actors GALVIN MILTEAU ROBINSON SMYTH
J.J. Milteau (harmonicas)
The blues and its heritage have fascinated J.J. ever since he discovered the music of Sonny Terry and Stevie Wonder when he was a teenager. He’s worked since with artists as diverse as George Higgs, Gil Scott-Heron, and the Palata Singers. After years of sharing the stage with Manu Galvin, Michael Robinson and Ron Smyth in front of enthusiastic audiences, J.J. decided to bring the group to new collective heights. Consideration is the result of this ambition.
“I bought my first harmonica after hearing Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, John Mayall and Sonny Terry, whose breathtaking “Lost John” floored me.” This harmonica tour-de-force was recorded and released in 1954 on Folkways Records, the legendary postwar folk label that was the home of heroic figures such as Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Dave Van Ronk, as well as blues pioneers Big Bill Broonzy, Blind Willie Johnson, Brownie McGhee, Jazz Gillum, Lead Belly and Reverend Gary Davis. Incidentally, Folkways was distributed in France by Le Chant du Monde, later to become J.J.’s very first record company…
On the occasion of his first trip to the US, J.J. discovered one of his main influences : Paul Butterfield, whose music introduced him to new ways of playing his instrument and leading a band.
J.J.’s Explorer album earned him a Victoire de la Musique—the French equivalent of a Grammy—in 1992. The same year, J.J. opened for French pop stars Michel Jonasz and Eddy Mitchell, and took part in a widely acclaimed concert performed by the star-studded Enfoirés at the Paris Opera House. The following season, J.J. confirmed his strong stage presence with his Live set, before joining Eddy Mitchell, Paul Personne and Renaud at the Paris Grand Rex in 1994, on the occasion of their collective “On the Road to Memphis” show. Fifteen new compositions (many of them co-written by Manu Galvin) were published in 1995 on Routes, an instrumental set that was balanced the following year by Merci d’être venus where he shared the light with a slew of vocal guests, including Charles Aznavour, Francis Cabrel, Maxime Le Forestier, Florent Pagny, Eddy Mitchell, Richard Bohringer, Michel Jonasz and Claude Nougaro.
With outside help from one of his most gifted pupils, harp player Greg Szlapczynski (better known today as Greg Zlap, with Johnny Halliday), J.J. initiated a program for sick children at a noted Rehabilitation Center in 1997-98, still finding the time to record the Blues Live album. His next effort, Bastille Blues, brought him all the way to the Olympia Theatre, the temple of pop in Paris, in 1999.
The year 2001 marked an international turn in J.J.’s career when Memphis, a set recorded at Willie Mitchell’s studio with bona fide blues stars Little Milton, Sam McClain and Mighty Mo Rodgers earned him another Victoire. The Jazz Achievement Award he received from Sacem in 2002 confirmed his presence at the top of his trade. In 2003, J.J. was back in the States where he recorded Blue 3rd with guests Gil Scott-Heron, Terry Callier, neo soulstress N’Dambi and Howard Johnson. Three years later, Fragile revealed J.J.’s more intimate side, in the presence of female vocalists Michelle Shocked and Demi Evans, while Live, Hot ‘n Blue, sparked by the fiery guitar battles between Andrew “Junior Boy” Jones and Manu Galvin, gave his fans a dynamic picture of his strong stage performances.
Soul Conversation in 2008 marked the beginning of his fruitful collaboration with Michael Robinson and Ron Smyth.
Manu Galvin (guitars)
Once known as the “Ladies Man of the Guitar” (he worked with Jane Birkin and Elisabeth Caumont, among others), Manu moved on to bluesier circles with Chicagoans Sugar Blue and Jimmy Johnson before making a name for himself with the finest representatives of the French pop scene (Maxime Le Forestier, Alain Souchon, Renaud, Julien Clerc). A musician’s musician, this lyrical self-taught virtuoso tackles the electric Telecaster and the acoustic Martin with equal ease. Manu delves back into his blues roots with delight whenever longtime partner in crime J.J. Milteau calls him. The thousands of music aficionados who’ve seen him perform live at big jazz festivals and in small blues clubs can testify to the musical elegance of this genial giant whose presence on stage is hard to miss, physically as well as musically. Manu is the musical director of this project.
Ron Smyth (vocals)
Born and raised in New Jersey, Ron was tutored by his mother, a singing evangelist who took him with her on her coast-to-coast tours. By the time he settled in New York City, Ron had developed productive relationships with Pharoah Sanders, Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard and even James Brown. Himself a reggae guitarist of note, Ron performed with Peter Tosh for several years before moving to New Orleans, then Italy and France where he honed his funky blues skills with Lucky Peterson, Bernard Allison and George Clinton’s P-Funk All Stars before J.J. recruited him for the Soul Conversation project.
Michael Robinson (vocals)
Michael started out at the age of five in the choir of his father’s church on Chicago’s South Side, later obtaining a scholarship at the prestigious Chicago Conservatory of Music when he was a teenager. By the time he turned eighteen, Michael was performing with the Staple Singers and Maurice White ; he later moved to Los Angeles where he worked regularly with Quincy Jones. Since relocating in Paris, Michael has performed with French pop icon Etienne Daho and the pop-rock band Rita Mitsouko, touring extensively with African artists Lokua Kanza and Angélique Kidjo. J.J.’s invitation to take part in this project has allowed him to renew his acquaintance with the blues and soul sounds of his childhood.
Guests : Palata Singers • Carmen Maria Vega • Emel Mathlouthi