Oakland as the central inspiration of Vincent Courtois’ upcoming creations

Updated: Sep 27, 2019

Thanks to the Oakland-Saint-Denis cooperation project, Vincent Courtois’ stay in the U.S. enabled him to perform and write several tributes to his Oaklander icon, Jack London. The French cello-virtuoso performed earlier this spring a series of concert throughout the West Coast for his Jack London Tour with his two fellow saxophonists, with whom he also recorded in Oakland’s famous 25th street studio their future album “Oakland”. The Oakland-Saint-Denis cooperation project also gave the opportunity to Vincent Courtois, along with French actor Pierre Baux, to benefit from the artistic residency A Room With A View to together adapt in a hybrid performance the world widely famous Oaklander Jack London’s novel Martin Eden.

Vincent Courtois' "Love of Life" recording session at the 25th street studio, Oakland

A dense and fructuous stay in the U.S. for Vincent Courtois

This stay in the U.S. was at first the opportunity for Vincent Courtois, along with saxophonists Daniel Erdmann and Robin Fincker with whom he forms a trio, to tour the country for their Jack London Tour, during which they performed music inspired by the Oaklander writer’s work. The trio performed in New York, Boston, , Seattle and Portland over the spring, offering their personal tribute to the author to the public. On June 26 and 27 in Oakland, the trio recorded their upcoming album (to be released in January 2020) at legendary 25th Street Recording studio, in front of a limited audience.

According to Courtois’ own words, London’s works deeply marked him, and his stay in the Bay was a moment to further materialize the influence the author had on the musician’s work. Stepping in the footsteps of his icon and joined by the In presence of Jack London’s specialist Susan Nuernberg and Tarnel Abbott, London’s great-grand-daughter, Vincent Courtois and the trio played their music in the Jack London State Park to honor his memory. The trio also took the opportunity of this U.S. tour, and more specifically of their time in the Bay Area, to record their future album, “Oakland”, in the mythical 25th Sreet studio, based in in London’s hometown,

The trio about to play in the Jack London State Park

Finally, once the “Love of Life” concerts and the recording of the albums complete, Vincent Courtois was joined in San Francisco by actor Pierre Baux, with whom he has been working for many years. Together, they used their time in artistic residency “A Room with a View” to work on a text-music hybrid adaptation of London’s novel Martin Eden, mixing cello and excerpts of the novel’s readings. The time spent at the residency has been studious and fructuous enough for Vincent Courtois and Pierre Baux to propose a first attempt of their performance at the Oakland Public Library on July 2nd.

What’s next?

The work begun by Baux and Courtois during their time at the artistic residency did not stop there, as this artistic journey does not limit itself to a wonderful evening at the Oakland Public Library. Now that they returned to France, Vincent Courtois and Pierre Baux continue to work together, aiming to ultimately propose a complete adaptation of Martin Eden’s lines. Courtois even announced on Facebook that the first rehearsal of the entire performance, baptized “Oakland”, took place on the 4th of September, as a proof if needed of both artists’ enthusiasm and excitation regarding the project.

The ongoing rehearsals of the “Oakland” performance.

The “Oakland” show will be performed in early 2020, in Brittany, from where Courtois is originating, in Guidel and Guingamp, but also in Paris in La Maison de la Poésie, and finally further to the east, in Strasbourg. Early 2020 will also be the moment of the release of the trio’s album recorded during their stay, also named “Oakland”, as an additional sign of the fructuous character of Vincent Courtois’ stay in the Bay.

Vincent Courtois’ “Love of Life” tour and creation residency was made possible thanks to the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, Institut Français and the French American Cultural Society).

The project is part of the internation cooperation project Oakland/Saint-Denis, supported byCalifornia Humanities, the Institut Français, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United Statesand the French American Cultural Society.

Thanks to the collaboration with American partners : City of Oakland, UC Berkeley, Burning Man Project, CAST,YR Media, Oakland Museum of California, Spurand MoreLab.

And French partners: City of Saint-Denis, Plaine Commune, Société du grand Paris, 6b, Atelier Médicis, APUR, Légendes Urbaines, Baluchon, Paris 8 Universityand Kaimera Productions.

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