Interview with Francois Richard: Music for Your Whole Day

Richard-Lipsky-Herskowitz trio Richard-Lipsky-Herskowitz trio

The Richard-Lipsky-Herskowitz trio recently released their album Azimut(h) making a unique and highly listenable fusion of jazz and classical music. Here are some highlights from my recent chat with flutist and composer Francois Richard.

Stephanie Weiner(SW): Tell me about how you got started in music, with the flute?

Francois Richard (FR): My mother was a music teacher, she played piano, she used to play cello, and the recorder. My father was a photographer and sang opera. So, I came from an artistic family. I started with the recorder at eight years old. My uncle gave our family a learning book from Mario Duschesne, and I started playing right away. I knew musical theory at six years old, so I started to learn like that. I played for one year, then the second year, I was playing Bach concertos. I loved it. Then I saw a flute player in the CAMMAC amateur symphony orchestra  and the real flute, the transverse flute, and I really loved it. I was listening to jazz on the radio too and decided I preferred that to the recorder. Then I went to the Montreal Conservatory.

SW: In your musical journey, when did you first meet with/play with Matt Herskowitz and Helmut Lipsky?

FR: Matt, I started playing with in 2009 or so, and Helmut joined our duet three years ago or so and we formed a trio. I knew Helmut before that but we only got together to play every once in awhile. They are from New York (Matt) and Germany (Helmut), but live here in Montreal.

SW: When you got together to make your recent album Azimut(h), you made a very unique mix of different styles. Where did this idea come from?

FR: It’s a mix of all our different influences and styles. Herskowitz does mix classical and jazz. I did a lot of this too, but he’s the specialist. When we were in New York, I wrote pieces for us to improvise. We have a couple of Bach pieces we played in concert, as well. Helmut is more the classical artist, playing the violin.

SW: It’s really neat hearing the blend of the different influences on the album. What is your process for composing a piece?

FR: I get inspired, sometimes I write music as I hear it in my head, then put it on paper, or with software. This is a fast way to get it out to share with other musicians to play along. It’s much faster but you still need to have an idea! The software doesn’t do the job of writing the music for you. I use Pro Tools and Sibelius. In my home studio I do editing as well.

SW: The different songs that came together for the album, is there a theme among them? A story being told?

FR: Well, as the producer for the album, while I didn’t work alone, I mainly chose what I thought was the best from songs we had performed in concert. We’re just trying to play good music and that’s it. I arranged it for it to make sense too, so there is a certain logic to it where it is clear a musician has done it.

SW: Will the trio be going on tour to promote the album?

FR: This coming April 22 as part of the Jazz Fest we’ll be at the Astral. This hall has a cabaret so people can eat and drink. It’s a really nice set up that is comparable to New York, no, I would even say better! Even where I’ve played at Lincoln Centre in New York, it’s an upscale jazz club, but  still not as big as the Astral.

SW: Sounds like the perfect venue to enjoy jazz.

FR: For this special event we will be 12 musicians, so there will be songs from a digital album Symbiose released last year and from Azimut(h). We’ll play some jazz standards, some of my original music and then the trio Richard-Lipsky-Herskovitz will play some songs from the album. There will be a lot of variety. It’s gonna be all dressed, like a pizza. (laughing)

For tickets, click here.

Trio Richard-Lipsky-Herskowitz at l’Astral (305 Ste-Catherine W) on April 22 at 8 p.m. $25-29, students $15-18.