« A true delight » par Blues & Rythm Magazine

Cœur De Chauffe is a band under the leadership of Gérard Tarquin, clarinettist with the famed French jazz band, Les Haricots Rouges. M. Tarquin was born in Paris in 1943 and is of Créole ancestry, his father having moved to the French capital from Martinique in the French Antilles in 1930. He grew up in a Caribbean environment and was taught clarinet by Eugène Delouche, a veteran of Paris’s West Indian dances, who also encouraged Gérard’s pride in this heritage. At the beginning of the sixties, Tarquin began playing jazz – though with the style of Sidney Bechet as his first lesson, those Créole roots were never far away, and he would often introduce one or two biguines in the band’s sets. It was long his dream though to have a full band and an album of Martiniquan music, and that dream is brought to fruition with Coeur De Chauffe and this wonderful, flowing CD. The subtitle of this release is “Biguines & Mazurkas Créoles Today”, although both the mazurka and biguines can be found in the recordings of many modern French Caribbean outfits, they tend to be interpreted in a modern style. This too is a modern set, but it is only the quality of the production that betrays its contemporaneity. With the exception of the autobiographical title track, the material dates from the twenties (or before) to the fifties, some of it from the folk tradition, but the majority from leading names such as Stellio, Ernest Léardée, Léona Gabriel, Albert Lirvat and Gérard’s mentor, Eugène Delouche. There is a real vibrancy and sense of enthusiasm about the whole set but the latter’s “La Figuïe”, “Retour Au Pays” and “Shell X 100 Motor Oil” are outstanding, full of warmth and verve, with M. Tarquin seeming to want to ensure his old teacher would be proud of the pupil’s achievements. The accomplished and very authentic-sounding backing band consists of past and present members of Les Haricots Rouges, plus the Antilleans Roland Pierre-Charles (whose accordion style is midway between musette and zydeco) and female singer Maura Michelon, though it should be stated that Gérard himself handles the bulk of the vocals and shows himself to have a good voice for this kind of material. Plaudits are due too to the trombonist Denis Carterre and Norbert “Roro” Congrega on banjo. Surprisingly perhaps, this is no more jazz inflected than most beguine, and those lilting Caribbean roots are strong. Those with an appreciation of this Antillean tradition will find this CD a true delight.