Born in Washington but raised in France, Laurent de Wilde is a very interesting jazz pianist sharing his time between Europe and the United States while constantly alternating between acoustic and electronic music. Released in 2012, Over the Clouds is Laurent de Wilde’s first acoustic jazz album since The Present (2006). In the meantime, the musician pursued his previous electro-jazz experimentations with live and interactive piano/computer recordings on two fascinating duet albums (PC Pieces and the Fly project) with sound engineer and composer Dominique “Dume” Poutet aka Otisto 23.

Laurent de Wilde - Over the clouds (2012)
Laurent de Wilde – Over the clouds (2012)

On Over the Clouds, Laurent de Wilde teams up with drummer Clarence Penn and reunites with bassist Ira Coleman with whom he recorded extensively in the 1990s. “Edward K” for instance is a reprise of a track which originally featured on Spoon a Rhythm (1997) with Ira Coleman on bass. A specialist of Thelonious Monk (see his excellent written evocation of the musician published in 1996) and a great admirer of Duke Ellington, Laurent de Wilde is also strongly influenced by West African music. The title track features a prepared piano section with the pianist emulating the sound of the West African balafon with blu tack fixed to the strings of the piano.

With a fresh take on the acoustic trio formation and brimming with ideas, Laurent de Wilde delivered an “electric” live performance of another African theme on the album (“Fefe Naa Efe”) at the 2013 “Victoires du Jazz” in Vienne (France):

The track is a Fela Kuti composition which originally appeared on Gentleman (1973). When recording the studio version of the song, Laurent de Wilde invited his “French” trio (bassist Jérôme Regard and drummer Laurent Robin) to play alongside his “American” trio in an attempt to reproduce the exuberant sound and energy of the Afrobeat legend.