Flashback to November 22, 2017, at the record launch for my first solo piano thing (l’inévitable…”). Against any good sense, I had decided to include in the set a very new piece, still lacking a title…and not on the album! Unsurprisingly, I had some trouble performing it properly, and I immediately thought: “what a stupid idea!”.
When I finished the set, a friend of mine (scientist Greg De Crescenzo) comes to me and says: “I really liked that tune with no name…you should call it “la falaise!”.
It sort of comforted me and we left it at that.
During the next few years, I resumed writing, improvising and recording more piano music. By the end of 2019 I had enough material to start thinking about a second solo piano release. The tune “la falaise” (the name had stuck) soon began to be a family favorite and would most certainly be included. When I thought I was done with the recording and mastering, I started juggling with the tunes order, went through a few versions…but “la falaise” was always my opener. However, it didn’t seem like a contender for album title!
Since the majority of pieces on the record are improvisations, I had assumed that one of them had to be my title track. One is called “le chemin” (the path), and is loosely related to Antonio Machado’s poem that includes the line: “il n’y a pas de chemin, le chemin se fait en marchant…” (there is no path, we make the path as we go…”) which is a perfect metaphor for the process of improvisation! (see my previous blog entry on improvisation) Indeed, I placed this quote inside the album’s sleeve. However, after a little family brainstorming session, it became clear which title won!
For centuries, from Dover to Tadoussac, from Gibraltar to Dubrovnik, people scoped out the oceans for any sign of approaching invaders. Wives of sailors gone at sea would observe the horizon endlessly, often in vain, for any sign of the ship bringing back the loved ones, the fathers of their children. From human sacrifices to contemplating suicide, these places have been the theater of life and death struggles!
On a less dramatic note, and although I am not a frequent traveller, it won't be a surprise to you that some of my best memories are from the high dunes of Cape Cod, the Seven Sisters in the south of England, the cliff of Etretat in Normandie and the Iles Saintes of Guadeloupe. And what about all those captivating tv series: The Cliff, Broadchurch, Picnic at Hanging Rock and Poldark, with their great... "cliff-hangers"!!!
Last but not least, a little anecdote. A few years ago, vacationing in Cape Cod (hint, hint), we were coming out from a Wellfleet restaurant at nighttime. The car was parked at the edge of a very dark parking lot surrounded by trees. Having forgotten to stop by the bathroom on my way out, I elected to take a discreet leak behind the first available tree. On my first step behind said tree, I fell head first into a void, crashing heavily many many feet below. I felt stunned, with a sharp pain in my upper body, but I somehow managed to get up, grabbing branches and slowly working my way back up while I heard anguished calls from above. Back on firm ground, I felt relatively ok, save a suspected couple of broken ribs. The following morning (ouch, ouch) we returned to the scene to try and find my glasses that had been ejected in my fall. This time I proceeded down slowly and carefully, and I reached the place where I had obviously crashed : within two feet of the crushed branches, there was a collection of large pointy rocks, concrete blocks and assorted sharp metal trash! I didn’t find my glasses, but realized what a close call it had been. The cliff, life, death, I told ya…!!!
And to my friend Greg…thanks again for that cool idea!