Papanosh and a Chicken in a Bottle: an interview

An interview with band saxophone player Raphaël Quenehen

Raphaël Quenehen, you have performed in Estonia with Petite Vengeance in November 2015, as part of the Autumn Season of Jazzkaar, and you are coming here again in April 2017 with Papanosh to take part in the Jazzkaar Festival. How does it feel to be coming back to Estonia with your friends of Papanosh, a band which celebrates 10 years of uninterrupted and intense music fellowship?
It’s a great pleasure to continue the story we began with Petite Vengeance two years ago. We definitely loved the public here and their open-minded approach of jazz and musical languages (with modern and folk music). I love touring with Papanosh because we are like a family and enjoy a lot discovering food and people and use this as an inspiration for the music. We could say that "we play the place we are", and I am pretty sure that it will sound great in Estonia!

Your third album has been released on Enja Record. How did you came up with the name “A Chicken in a Bottle”?
The name of the album is also the name of a song I composed. It's a tribute to Eric Dolphy, a great saxophone and clarinet player I love, who sounded like a crazy bird. So this song is like a champagne bottle of Dolphy's spirit. And the name was both absurd and good, perfect to explain our music, which is sometimes dramatic and sometimes funny !!!

Tell us about your concert in New York and your recording there with Marc Ribot. How was this visit? Do you already know when this fourth album of Papanosh is to be expected?
We recorded on January 17th  in Brooklyn with Marc Ribot and Roy Nathanson as guests. We met Roy three years ago and made a great project on Charles Mingus music (Oh Yeah ho - enja Yellowbird / label Vibrant). The connection was immediate between us. Roy is an incredible sax player as well as a poet who brings a strong emotional dimension into the music. We thought about creating a new project together when Papanosh got a gig in the Winter Jazz festival in New York.  We jumped at the opportunity to record new music with him and Marc Ribot who is an old friend of Roy. We wrote simple and powerful songs and are very satisfied of the result. We plan to release it next winter. 

How did Papanosh come to be?

Papanosh is a 10 years old band, a reunion of high school friends. Four of the guys met in the high school jazz band, discovering together Mingus' stuff, improvisation, etc... At the very beginning, we created Papanosh as a sextet, we were having fun with traditional Eastern music, free jazz, and the band included a violin player. When he left the band, we had a regular hard-bop quintet, and we started creating our own music. We composed original songs, based on very different influences. We never stop playing together even in times when there weren't so much gigs... 

What are your main musical influences?

Traditional Eastern stuff, hard bop, free jazz, Mingus, Ornette Coleman, guys from the Knitting Factory NYC, folk music...

What’s your favorite part about playing in a band together? What’s the worst part?

To play and to create in a band together allows you to hear music you could have never imagined alone! And the energy is amazing. The worst would be that you don't get to decide everything yourself (which is not such a bad thing after all)!

In a few words, describe what the French jazz music community is like.

The French community is wide, some people are classical, others work on noisy extreme things, some are inspired by contemporary music or mucis from all over the world, but in the end everybody respects each other!

As a band, what are you listening to right now?  

We still listen to our good old favorite discs including American jazz from the 50's and 60's, Mingus, hard bop, but also Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, John Zorn's great works, and even Los Lobos, Mexican traditional records, Johnny Cash, etc.

What is happening for Papanosh at the moment?

Our new record “A Chicken in a Bottle” just came out on Enja Records (site to be updated). This is our third album so far. In New York on January 9th -10th we have recorded with Marc Ribot and Roy Nathanson.


Papanosh will perform on 19th of April at Türi kultuurikeskus, on 23rd of April at Viljandi Pärimusmuusika Ait, on 24th of April at Elva kultuurikeskus and on 25th of April in Tallinn at Punane Maja.

Listen to the whole album here  


Read this article in: Français, Eesti, Русский,

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