Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 July 2019

Pierre de Tregomain on finding spirituality in his music

The French jazz vocalist will team up with Azerbaijani singer and artist Gochag Askarov for a performance at Qasr Al Hosn

French singer Pierre de Tregomain has collaborated with Azeri folk artist Gochag Askarov for a special Abu Dhabi performance called Mugham Souls. Courtesy Pierre de Trégomain
French singer Pierre de Tregomain has collaborated with Azeri folk artist Gochag Askarov for a special Abu Dhabi performance called Mugham Souls. Courtesy Pierre de Trégomain

The latest concert at the renovated Qasr Al Hosn district is a meeting of souls and music traditions. Tonight, French jazz vocalist, Pierre de Tregomain will team up with celebrated Azerbaijani singer and artist Gochag Askarov to perform their signature mix of traditional jazz and the Azerbaijani folk music tradition of mugham, which blends poetry with indigenous instruments.

The partnership was formed five years ago, when Parisian Tregomain, hungry for new sounds, discovered the work of Askarov in a public library. After reaching out to him, the duo recorded a collaborative album, Mugham Souls, and toured internationally. Tregomain says their chemistry on stage is as spiritual as it is musical. We catch up with the French musician ahead of tonight’s performance.

Your concert will have you blending your jazz vocals with Azerbaijan’s traditional music form of mugham. Would you describe your sound as fusion?

I don’t object to that. I would say it’s quite a spiritual meeting between two kinds of music. Gochag Askarov is a great master of mugham, and I’m coming from jazz music. I have always been working on exploring different musical horizons and I had this need to do something more spiritual than just entertaining. And mugham is spiritual and it can be entertaining. When it comes to what we do, it is about being as sincere as possible and at the same time universal.

Mugham music is mostly known within Azerbaijani society, what drew you to it?

It was down to my own learning process as a singer. It took me years to go beyond these borders of jazz to work with different musical backgrounds such as Persian and classical and qawwali music from Pakistan. But mugham is special to my heart because of that spirituality. It is very rhythmic and it has changed the way I sing jazz music.

You train jazz vocalists in Paris. How has your experience singing mugham music affected your teaching approach?

The way I do it now is indeed a fusion between what I have learnt along the way. What I teach my pupils is to deal with vibrations, harmonics, creating and shaping your own sound and learning to listen to yourself before you shape a melodic sentence. It is about being connected with yourself.

The interesting aspect of your relationship with Askarov is that although you played numerous shows together, your verbal interactions are muted due to the language barrier. How did you two overcome that?

There is a great connection between jazz and mugham music, it is a synchronisation. And in this matter, Gochag and I are very deeply connected. Even though we don’t have any common language – he does not speak English, and I do not speak Azeri – we are listening to each other very carefully. So we are oversensitive to what the other does on stage. This is also why the improvisations we do work well together.

With no musical background, you started learning jazz music formally at the relatively late age of 18. Did approaching music at that age provide you with an extra level of life experience or depth?

Well, I was definitely not wise when I was 18. But, what I would say is that I was carrying my ­experiences as a child and as a teenager. But you know, this is universal and everybody does this. We all have to deal with our own experiences and transform them in our own way.

The Mugham Souls concert, featuring Pierre de Trégomain and Gochag Askarov, takes place on January 9 at the Cultural Foundation Amphitheatre, Qasr Al Hosn, Abu Dhabi at 8pm. Tickets are Dh100 from www.ticketmaster.ae


Read more:

Qasr Al Hosn: the historic Abu Dhabi landmark will reopen after a decade on December 7

Abu Dhabi Festival announces line-up of major performances for 2019

Abu Dhabi Classics: Four more shows not to be missed

From Momoland to George Ezra: UAE concerts to look forward to in 2019

Music in review: 18 of our favourite albums of 2018


Updated: January 8, 2019 07:11 PM