Stéphane SEVA


In a few key dates...

Stéphane Séva devant les portes de la gare
On the 14th of January in Tournan-en-Brie (France), the cereal-growing suburb to the east of Paris, 187 years to the day after the signing of the Treaty of Paris which marked the end of the American War of Independence, Stéphane Séva (almost Sydney Séva after a famous saxophonist) is born to a saxophonist father. He has Cabu (a famous cartoonist), Belasse (a classical pianist) and his godmother, Isabelle, for neighbours.
In the year in which Elvis Presley died and the music festival Printemps de Bourges was held for the first time, the Chien Assis - the Séva family's dance hall - opens in Rozay-en-Brie. This former village cinema is transformed into a dance hall with its own resident band.
Seva First Band
The year marks Stéphane's first stage appearance on the drums. It's his friend Popole, the dancehall band's drummer, who lets Stéphane play on his drum kit. He plays the beat of 'Oh When the saints'! This jamming session takes place on New Year's Eve at the Chien Assis in front of an audience of 347.
He goes to his first big concert, at the famous music venue, Olympia, in Paris. Claude Nougaro, the singer from Toulouse, is top of the bill that night.
The year in which both John Lennon and John Bonham (the drummer of the famous rock band Led Zeppelin) died, Stéphane starts playing the drums in the town band in a highly random fashion...and not always to the rhythm, but he puts his heart and soul into it.
Stéphane Séva au tambour
In the same year that France celebrated the bicentenary of the Revolution and the Berlin Wall fell, Stéphane - his mastery of binary rhythms having improved and now a drummer in a rock band - appears on stage in front of 800 students at his senior school in Coulommiers, in the Brie region of France.
The year that Stan Getz died was also the year that Stéphane starts working as a music technician at the Bastille Opera in Paris. It is here that he discovers the world of classical percussion and so he - quite naturally- takes up the washboard (and his sense of ternary rhythm progresses well).
The year in which Léo Ferré passed away, Stéphane joins the 'Lézards de la Bastille', a traditional jazz band in which his father, Bernard, already plays soprano saxophone. He plays his first concerts as part of this line up and performs at the '24 hours of Swing', a famous Jazz festival at Monsegur. He learns to play in a solid and efficient rhythm section made up of Jean Luc Pagni (stage companion of Jérôme Savary) on banjo and Laurent Pezière (soloist with the orchestra of the Paris Opera).
Original Dixieland 77

Jacques Delaporte »
The year in which Ella Fitzgerald died
July : With the group 'Original Dixieland 77' that he put together in 1993 he wins first prize in the amateur marching bands category at the Festival of Jazz at Cannes. In the same year the band is spotted by the singer Jeane Manson, who then invites them to play on stage as support act at her show at the Casino de Paris. 
October : He discovers a venue with a pianist in the capital. Following this jamming session the owner suggests he plays there every Thursday - the venture will last for three years. He performs in a trio with piano, washboard and clarinet at this bar called 'Atmosphere' which is situated in the very heart of the capital, in an area of Paris called The Marais. Over the period, around fifty musicians of traditional and other types of jazz will come and play at the venue. The first year the famous pianist and composer Jacques Delaporte (founder of the 'Grand Orchestre du Splendide' and writer of the 'Salsa du Demon', amongst other pieces) performs there weekly, a real delight for audiences. There's a genuine magic about the show put on by the group and its captain, Mr. Delaporte. He goes from Boris Vian to Mozart, from Cabarat to Duke Ellington. He plays a vast variety of styles : music hall, French songs, classical works and traditional jazz as well !
This is a key artistic encounter in Stéphane's career, a turning point - the realisation that music can also be a show... It's the trigger...
The year of a pretty successful World Cup, but also the year Frank Sinatra passed away.
July : he is taken on as percussionist by the group 'Mettalos Voices' (formerly 'Les Tambours du Bronx') to perform Ravel's 'Bolero' at the Stade de France during the Yves Saint Laurent fashion show that precedes the final of the football World Cup. Could the little drummer from the Rozay-en-Brie town band become world champion on the drums ?
September : he records his first 'Swing Ondulé' record, with its mix of traditional jazz and bebop and with a rhythm you'd call traditional, but with the phrasing of improvisers drawing upon contemporary influences. He invites his elder brother, Eric Séva, (saxophone) and Stéphane Chausse (clarinet) to accompany Ludovic de Preissac's piano pieces.
November : he plays the role of Monsieur Loyal (singing, introduction, washboard and percussion) in the musical 'Jazzystories' by Ludovic de Preissac, with Michel Bonnet, Sylvain Glevarec, Brahim Haiouani et Stéphane Chausse. At the same time, he studies jazz singing for three years at the IACP with Viviane Ginapé and Sarah Lazarus. He begins his singing career with the 'Magnetic Big Band' (from 1998 to 2000) and continues it with his own group, 'Chansons D'jazz'. This quintet consists of John Edwin Graf on the piano, Serge Luc on drums, Raphaël Dever on the double bass and Fréderic Couderc on the saxophone. The repertoire includes jazz classics (Fats Waller, Nat King Cole etc.) and French songs (Claude Nougaro, Serge Gainsbourg and Yves Montand), along with original compositions by John Edwin Graf.
Lancelot et ses chevaliers
During the final year of the century, he records the album 'Lancelot et ses Chevaliers' live in Rozay-en-Brie, with Olivier Lancelot on Piano and Didier Desbois on the clarinet (Djazz Records, distributed by Dam). "Un trio audacieux et étincelant de swing", Jazz Notes, 2000 (A daring and scintillating swing trio).
The year of the Sidney Olympics
January : He goes to train in New York for 6 weeks, his washboard under his arm (the least one can do to celebrate the new century that marks a transition from tradition to modernity, "I'm a young man from Brie in New York... "). A voyage of initiation, a kind of pilgrimage, he meets musicians there (Peter Ecklun, Vince Giordanno, Kelly Friesen) and jams with them in jazz clubs. At last he takes the time to focus on music and work, on rhythm and his singing, and sees his idol, the singer Jon Hendricks, play live at the Blue Note jazz club.
Around this time the Parisian press starts to talk about him...
  • "Stéphane Séva est remarquable au washboard par son soutien et ses interventions", Jazzhot, March 2000 ( An impeccable sense of tempo embellished by pinpoint solos)
  • "Le trio est complété par Stéphane Séva qui utilise adroitement et sobrement le Washboard", Jazzman, February2000 (The trio is complemented by Stéphane Séva who plays his washboard skilfully and discretely).
  • "Le solo du washboard est très fin. C'est un musicien!" (The washboard solo is top-quality He's a true musician!).
  • "Le solo de piano est bien swingué, aidé en cela par le washboard jamais envahissant", Jazz Dixie/Swing, edition N° 23 (The piano solo really swings, helped in that respect by a washboard that is never intrusive).
  • "Le chanteur, washboardiste Stéphane Séva fut le maître de cérémonie enthousiaste du festival, n'hésitant pas à chanter avec beaucoup de personnalité et de style sur les standards en de multiples occasions", Jazzhot N°593, September 2002 (The singer and washboard player Stéphane Séva was the festival's bubbly master of ceremonies, singing the jazz standards with masses of personality and style at various moments).
Bill, Fanny et monsieur
The year Nina Simone died. Stéphane writes and produces the musical 'Bill, Fanny et Monsieur' and performs in it alongside actress and dancer Angélique Rivoux (winner of the Prix Moliere in 2001 with the dance company 'Chantons sous la Pluie') and with 'pianist-cum-acrobat', Remy Toulon (Take 3 and Eric Tousles).
It's the account of an artistic encounter at an audition ; a story in music and dance about three characters of very different backgrounds : an ingénue and a young man who only expresses himself through his music are accompanied throughout the show by a crazy piano ! The premiere takes place in a room at the Auditorium Saint Germain in Paris on 24th May in front of a packed audience, under the patronage of Claude Le Bihan of the magazine 'Télérama'.
The year of his first TV appearance...
May : he makes an appearance on TV channel France 2 on Michel Drucker's programme, 'Vivement Dimanche', with the trio 'Lancelot et ses Chevaliers', invited by the palaeontologist Yves Coppens.
June : he records his latest record (playing the washboard), a live album called 'Swing Ondulé Volume 2' with Alain Marquet on the clarinet, Gilles Chevaucherie on the double bass, Benoît Van Hille on the trombone et Ludovic de Preissac on piano.
October : the release of the film 'Ray' is a new trigger for Stéphane. He subsequently decides to sing Ray Charles' dance numbers from the '50s...'Hallelujah', 'I just love her so', 'I got a woman', 'Unchain my heart'....
Jazz et la java - Bernard & Friend
For more info' on Bernard Séva
July : he plays La Baule Jazz Festival and talks projects with the organiser. Inspired by the great weather enjoyed this particular year and a beautiful summer's day, he's at the beach when he decides to put on his project 'To Frank and Ray'. Ludovic de Preissac, who is with him at the time, is up for it : the formation is to be an octet and will revisit Ray Charles' dance numbers and Frank Sinatra' great crooning standards. So it's the pianist and arranger Ludovic de Preissac who begins to pick out Sinatra's big band themes in order to cut them down to 4 brass instruments (baritone and tenor saxophone, alto sax and flute, trombone and trumpet). The pieces by Ray Charles will be picked and rearranged by the trombone player, Mickaël Joussein.
October : the 9th 'Nuit du Swing' at La Baule is the occasion of the first live concert of the formation responsible for 'To Frank and Ray', in front of 400 people.
November : sees an unusual musical encounter with the double-neck guitar player Stéphane Malta. Thus, the duo 'Double-Stf' is formed.
December : he sings on his father's record 'Jazz et la Java' to celebrate the latter's 50 years in the business. Fittingly, the album is recorded live at the 'Chien Assis'.
Stéphane au Jazz Chamber
The « Jazz Chamber Orchestra »

Stéphane siffle
Improvised whistling on
'Dream a Little Dream of Me',
the great hall at the Festival of Monségur, July 2006
The year that Michel Polnareff makes his big return to the stage.
July : sees a musical and theatrical collaboration with the group 'Jazz Chamber Orchestra' from Bordeaux (33) at festivals such as 'Le Swing de Monségur', Jazz in Sanguinet, Oloron Sainte Marie etc...
The Jazz Chamber Orchestra (from left to right)
Jean-Luc Parreau - soprano sax, Alain Barrabés - tenor sax, Fred Lasnier - double bass, Pascal Quennehent - banjo.
September : a 5-day stay in the countryside to record the album 'To Frank and Ray' with Ahmet Gülbay on piano, Cédric Caillaud on double bass, David Grébil on drums, Fréderic Couderc on baritone and tenor saxophones, Michaël Joussein on trombone, Michaël Cheret on alto saxophone and flute and Brice Moscardini on trumpet.
CD 'To Frank and Ray'
Release of the album 'To Frank and Ray' on the L.C.A label, a Malimalo Production.
The sound is engineered by Bruno Minisini with the assistance of Daphné Coisné. 'To Frank and Ray' is a musical stroll with two singing greats, along a route paved with soul, rhythm and blues and, of course, jazz.