“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.
Harmonicas - 2009 The Best of JJM Harmonica Work
In blues music, it is the role of the harmonica to converse with the singer. The harp isn’t supposed to stand out, it’s there to discuss, emphasize, comfort, tickle and translate, creating a musical setting fit for the singer to express himself. An approach that rules out any attempt at showing off. This Soul Conversation is a way for me to rephrase the various musical genres that first hit my imagination : blues, soul, rock, folk… Songs that wished for brighter tomorrows. It was the first time young people from various parts of the planet used the same language to express they craving for tolerance and broad-mindedness. Shying away from the slaughter of the war and the iniquity of colonization, the Western world seemed intent on solving the problems of those who lacked in everything, wherever they were. Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner For there’s no hiding place against the kingdom’s throne (Curtis Mayfield, “People Get Ready”)
One has to say, we must have lost our bearings somewhere along the way. The darkest hour is always just before dawn (David Crosby, “Long Time Gone”)
Soul Conversation is a modest survey, a step in the right direction. “Is This the Way ?” I’ve always thought questions were more essential than answers…
J.J. Milteau celebrated his arrival at Universal Jazz at the turn of the new millennium with his widely acclaimed Memphis album, recorded in the undisputed capital city of southern soul. Upon its release, this superlative set was awarded a Victoire de la Musique —the French equivalent of a Grammy. Five years and two albums later, Milteau decided to revisit his bluesiest roots, touring France at the helm of an explosive outfit assembled especially for the occasion. In addition to the mainstays of his regular band — guitarist Manu Galvin, organist Benoît Sourisse and vocalist Demi Evans —, J.J. enrolled an ace African-American rhythm unit with a top reputation on the US blues circuit. Built around bassist extraordinaire Felton Crews (a former Miles Davis alumnus who gained his blues credentials with Junior Wells and Otis Rush), the Live Hot ‘n’ Blue band was propelled by the funky drumming of Mark Mack (known for his work with James Cotton) and enlightened by the fiery guitar and vocals of Andrew "Junior Boy" Jones, a Texan who learned his chops with the great Freddie King.
Live Hot ‘n’ Blue offers fans the finest and bluesiest moments of this memorable 2005 Tour, as JJ and his star outfit give their best in front of capacity crowds enthralled by their performance
Elvis was incredibly insecure… in many ways, he reminded me of the Black artists I had worked with… Sam Phillips
That statement by Elvis Presley’s producer made me realize that my favorite music, all the Blues, Soul and Rock ’n’ Roll that swept over the second half of the 20th century, was born out of a fragility I have come to treasure. Since the beginning of time, it was the intuitive awareness of this fragility that allowed us to survive, and create. Yet our so-called civilization, although it supposedly rejects the law of the mighty, refuses to accept this fragility, and responds to it with all kinds of lies and fundamentalist credos. The harmonica is the epitome of fragility ; its tiny metal reeds vibrating under the breath of our emotions in increasingly polluted air… All the musicians and vocalists invited on this project confirm with their flair and experience that fragility should not be confused with weakness. When all is said and done, you simply build more on passion than on concrete, and everything we care for is irrevocably fragile.
In the wake of his Memphis set, whose artistic success was crowned by various distinctions, among them a “Victoire de la Musique” (the French equivalent of a Grammy), J.J. Milteau has continued his musical exploration. The spirit of the blues he’s so fond of remains one of the foundations of his music, even if this style, on its own, is too restrictive to describe the creative approach of an artist open to the world and inquisitive about human diversity.
This time, Jean-Jacques has moved away from the roots of Black music to go deeper into the universe of a soul that he’d merely touched on during his travels to Tennessee. A jazzy ballad-type soul for which his instrument takes the place of the human voice, in the same way as Howard Johnson’s tuba… “I’d like my harmonica to sound like the voices that touch me,” explains J.J., “I’m looking for a fruitfult dialogue with grainy instruments like the organ, the tuba, the baritone sax.” This very notion of dialogue, instrumental or vocal when it’s engaged with charismatic bard Gil Scott-Heron, poet Terry Callier and Neo Soul princess N’Dambi, becomes the main thread of the harmonica player, who demonstrates how far his instrument can identify itself with the breath of which it is the emanation and spirit.
They say Memphis is the most widely quoted city in American songs. The air you breathe in Memphis must have some special quality, judging from the number of harmonica players who blew some of their most inspired solos there : Will Shade, founder of the Memphis Jug Band, one of the fathers of the blues harp ; Rice Miller, better known as Sonny Boy Williamson #2, the most expressive of all ; James Cotton, who still carries the torch today ; Walter Horton, a keen and subtle master ; one-man bands Dr. Ross and Joe Hill Louis ; blues wailers Junior Parker and Junior Wells ; Charlie Musselwhite, the last of the Mohicans ; Little Walter, of course, who spent his first night in Memphis sleeping on a pool table, or so goes the legend. For me, Memphis is a sound. The roar of the powerful Hammond B3, the silk-smooth groove of the Wurlitzer, the scorching hot guitar staccato and, most of all, the magic of voices. Gospel-drenched soul voices, coming from so far away that they make you shiver and weep as they come oozing out of a juke joint on East McLemore, of a church on Union, of a club on Beale. Once again, the tiny Marine Band harp opened doors for me, giving me access to the Memphis sound, providing me with an introduction to singers and musicians I’ve admired and loved all my life. This album will remind them how grateful I feel for sharing with me their talent and friendship.
Bastille Blues - 1999 JJM Instrumental
Merci d’être venus - 1996 JJM invites "La crème de la chanson française"
Routes - 1994 Instrumental souvenirs
Live - 1992 @ the Utopia Club & @ the Zenith
Explorer - 1991 Instrumental, Victoires de la Musique
This album is a compilation of the best recordings made by JJ for the Chant du Monde label between 1973 and 1983. His fiery blues-harp playing, heavily tinged with rock and country strains, has influenced a host of younger players since. Of special note, JJ’s superb “Tommy” with Pierre Fanen on guitar, the superlative “A.A. Booghee” recorded in Nashville, as well as the album’s title cut, “Blues Harp,” a technical tour de force in which JJ solos in five different keys without changing harp.