Jean-Jacques Chardeau — In Terra Cognita?
(L Records 1901, 2019, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2020-03-04
Chardeau’s latest project, In Terra Cognita?, is a dreamy musical journey around the globe, fifteen tracks featuring an astonishing number of top-flight musicians and singers, twenty years in the making, involving ten recording sessions throughout the United States, France, and the United Kingdom from 2017 through 2019, finally seeing completion in November 2019. Jean-Jacques Chardeau is a French composer, arranger, producer, keyboardist and singer, with about a dozen albums to his credit already; his music is eclectic, often eccentric, and doesn’t fit nicely into any single genre, but tends to be informed by many other styles throughout the album at hand, including rock, symphonic, pop, jazz, operatic, world music, and much more. What initially piqued my interest was the involvement of bassist Mark Andes, whom I’ve followed through his years with Spirit, Jo Jo Gunne, Firefall, and Heart, and indeed he is featured prominently on most of the tracks herein. But Andes is just one of many outstanding musicians contributing to In Terra Cognita? including violinist Jerry Goodman, guitarist Martin Barre, keyboardists Brian Auger and Francis Decamps, drummer Danny Seraphine (of Chicago), sax man John Helliwell of Supertramp, and many more world-class musicians, often a dozen or more playing on a single cut. Add to that many different singers we know well, most appearing on only a track or two: Alex Lighterwood, Michael Sadler, Christian Decamps, and many more. In addition, there are numerous world musicians that may only appear on a single track offering ethnic flutes, sitar, santoor, tuned percussion and more as Chardeau’s musical journet takes us from Moscow to India to Lhasa to Korea to Japan through the Pacific to Nunavut to Israel, Chad, Macchu Picchu, and more. It’s quite a journey, and one might be tempted to label this a rock opera, but it really isn’t that, even though we have orchestration on most of the tracks and a variety of singers, and an undeniable fact that no two cuts here sound like they are from the same album, it’s just Chardeau’s way of doing things, and on that note I would certainly call In Terra Cognita? a success.
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more