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Modest, Musical And Magnifique; A Tribute To Jean - Jacques Goldman
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Modest, Musical And Magnifique; A Tribute to Jean  -  Jacques Goldman

As a musician, I feel an empathy with certain musos of my age, including, to name a few Sting, Phil Collins, Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), Sonny Landreth (singer/slide guitarist), Stephen Bishop “Little Italy”, (one of my personal favourites), but there’s one guy that I feel I must draw everyone’s attention to. Although little known outside of France, Belgium and Switzerland, this man is reputedly one of the wealthiest professionals on the planet. The reason for his success, as far as I can make out, is that he can do sell-out concerts with absolutely no publicity: His name is Jean-Jacques Goldman.

Born in 1951, he is the “son of an immigrant Polish Jewish father, and a German Jewish mother, Goldman was the third of four children. As a child, he began his music studies on the violin, then the piano. In 1968, he abandoned his classical music studies for "American Rock & Roll" as well as folk music, emphasizing the guitar.” .Source: Wkipedia

Before moving to France I’d never heard of this guy although I was a fan of one of his friends and contemporaries, Francis Cabrel for years but was quite taken by listening to his CDs which my girlfriend would play from time to time.

His songs naturally, by osmosis, began to sink into my consciousness and began to repeat themselves in my head (I’ve mentioned “ear-worms before) but I soon realised that there was scarcely a tune of his that I didn’t like.

Even going back to his early successes from the seventies, I realised that this man was somewhat different; he had that rare knack of being able to change his style of composition to suit the mood of the era, like The Beatles, for instance. He has collaborated with, amongst others, Céline Dion, Chet Baker, Joe Cocker and, er, Johnny Hallyday (no accounting for taste).

The problem for me of course, was that I couldn’t put a title to a lot of his songs because they were in French and in any case they were just a stream of subliminal “tracks” echoing around my head.

I have to pause here for a moment just to touch on another but relevant subject.

It seems to me that, and this is a broad generalisation, either one likes, or is receptive to lyrics or poetry and tends to go for, say, the stuff of Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan and on the other hand it is the musical quality of a song that leaps out and grabs one before anything else. I personally fit into the latter category which in my case is just as well, here in France. Unfortunately, my girlfriend fits into the former and therein lies a bone of contention (you wouldn’t believe some of the slush I’m subjected to at times). No matter, I digress.

The music of J-J Goldman could, in no way, be classed as slush.

Not only an accomplished violinist, piano and guitar player, he has a fine vocal range (which he used to push to its limits in the early days) and a wide range of musical styles as already discussed from heavy rock to blues to very sensitive ballads and on a broad spectrum of topics (his family’s past being especially poignant).

His band are a unique bunch of stand alone multi-musicians and more to the point, friends. You only have to see them perform on stage to appreciate the rapport between them. It’s heart-warming!

Firstly, there’s his long-standing co-writer, guitarist/singer Michael Jones, a Welshman and they are like musical twins. I should at this point mention the late, great Caroline Fredericks, sister of blues singer, Taj Mahal, a large lady with a voice to match who, with the former made up the trio: “Fredericks, Goldman and Jones” in the genre of Croby, Stills & Nash (loosely speaking).

Unfortunately, I can’t, at this time, get details of the individual members of the band (and not without trying) suffice to say that his bass player, a cheerful, bouncy Breton seems to get notes from nowhere. The wind section is provided by a chap whose saxophone solos are up with the best I’ve heard and he can also blow a mean tin whistle!

His drummer is right up in my estimation as an absolute perfectionist percussionist; it’s not many who can do a decent press roll, for example. He, along with the others, has a fine singing voice and between them, provide a full sound when it comes backing harmonies.

There’s a concert that sums all of this up, performed in 2003, and one of the best I’ve seen. Entitled “Un Tour Ensemble”, it really is a spectacle. Included is a guest appearance of “The Dance Troupe of Dublin” a happy, foot-stomping bunch akin to the David Flately vein of tap-dancing and then later to the post finale during a song called “Envole-moi” where, astonishingly, the whole stage under the bands’ feet elevates upwards on a hinge to an angle of 90% and they, as if by magic, stay anchored in place, lord knows how they managed that.

Incidentally, most of this concert is available on YouTube if you know what to look for but it’s better if you can download it in its entirety. Just to see the expressions on the faces of the audience as the camera pans them gives you an idea of this man’s enigmatic popularity.

In closing, I should also mention the enormous contribution that M. Goldman, along with a host of fellow French performers, gives to a very valueable charity called Restos de Coeur in which the best of French rock and pop musicians perform annually, free of charge, for the benefit of the poor and less fortunate.

I’d like to leave you, with a song by this man, an acoustic ballad, “Quand tu Danses” (when you dance) as one of my personal favourites (good video too!) but it's NOT ALLOWED so you'll have to search for yourselves, sorry but RULES is RULES -so much for sharing :-(

On second thoughts I'll put a link on my F/B page - Ha!


Street Talk

I feel at a loss here, being in the music business my whole life and not having checked out this musician. Checked him out on YouTube and am very impressed.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Yes Shawn, so in fact was I, obviously. The thing is, he's so, so different from the "big stars" in that he likes his anominity and privacy but doesn't hide himself behind guard dog patrolled high walls blah, blah like so many do. He's just a normal bloke. Francis Cabrel is another like him - Thanks for reading.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Enjoyed the article although I had no idea who Jean-Jacques Goldman is but I am sure that Internet and youtube can help me with that. Thanks for sharing!

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

You're welcome Maria, hope you find him as good as I do.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
Joan S  

Hi Kim. I've never heard of Jean-Jacques Goldman, but you can be sure I'll search him on YouTube. You've named some of my favorite musicians in your article. It's a great gift when an artist can span decades and still be relevant. Many artists get stuck in an era and don't seem to keep moving forward. It's exciting when they produce one great CD after another that gets your heart beating. There's a musician in the States, Kenny Rankin, who doesn't get much publicity, but he's wonderful. It's probably because he doesn't want the publicity. Are you familiar with his work? You probably are. Thanks for the great article.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

I may have heard of Kenny Rankin; I'll search him out! Thanks Joan.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Great article Kim.. I love the way you are able to expound on this subject, but then it is obviously a passion with you...I wish in a way we could link to different things that are disallowed on SA, as there is so much to share amongst us all... but then as you say there is FB for that type thing... Love the article...

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Yes Rob, I have to admit to being a little frustrated having finished the article, not being able to include a YouTube link to the subject.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
Golfspice  

Enjoyable article Kim. Never heard of JJG. Based on what you say, he must be a very talented and accomplished performer.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Dear Kim, Great article, I enjoyed it very much, keep up the good work.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Thanks! Nice article. Being able to do a concert to sell out is wonderful for an achievement. But doing so without promotion makes for an incredible reputation.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Exactly, Cynthia, and judging by the comments it's clear that he's unknown to the english speaking public which is a shame.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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