Harlem Pop Trotters | Interview | “Groovy Jazz Funk”

Uncategorized November 9, 2021

Harlem Pop Trotters | Interview | “Groovy Jazz Funk”

Harlem Pop Trotters was one of the grooviest jazz funk bands in the French scene.

The album was written and produced by Jean-Claude Pierric and François Rolland for Les Tréteaux in the mid 70s. It’s a real masterpiece of jazz funk music. Underdog Records recently reissued their 1975 album on a limited colored edition on 180 gram vinyl.

How did Jean Claude Pierric and François Rolland start collaborating?

François Rolland: I played in a recording session organized by Jean-Claude Pierric for a record called ‘Delta Sound’, around 1972. Jean-Claude Pierric and I became very close friends and he called me for a lot of recording sessions after that.

The 1975 ‘Harlem Pop Trotters’ album is truly an incredible library recording. Among the very best. What do you recall from working on it in the studio?

It was a very cool session, at night, at La Comédie des Champs-Elysées. Every musician was at his best and it was very easy to play each tune. Each indication was played as I had thought with ease and relaxation. That was like a dream.

How many musicians did play and what other details do you recall?

There were six, including me. I remember there was a blackout in the middle of the session and I told stories in the dark until the light came back on. Another detail: the reverb was produced by the stairs leading to the showroom (la Comédie was half recording room / half showroom). The steps were made of marble, the ceiling was very high and there were big glasses and the whole thing produced a very nice reverb.

Was there a certain concept behind it?

It was the beginning of the synthesizers and I wanted to experiment with these new things. I had a guitar-synth called “Le Lavabo” (washbasin) because it was white, on one leg and had the shape of a washbasin. You can hear it in ‘Ring Modulator’. Georges Rodi (the keyboard player) was a precursor in this style and made a dazzling career with his gear.


There’s also a 1972 release, ‘Musique Pour L’Image N° 39’ and a single ‘Rage De Ski’.

I don’t remember that tune.

Library Music was pretty big back then. Would you mind elaborating your views on it from today’s perspective?

It was a totally different era. Every note you played was on the tape forever and you could not change it. Now you put different takes together, you can change whatever you want. That’s great but in my view there is a lack of something very special about this time (the 70’s): the FUN.

What followed in your career?

In parallel with my activities as a composer, I worked as a sideman with many famous French singers as: Gilbert Becaud, Joe Dassin, Juliette Greco, Sacha Distel, Charles Aznavour to name a few.
Then, in the 90’s, I opened a guitar-school with great success. I still give a few lessons and I play with a few jazz combos. And now I work on an album for a new female singer.

Underdog Records did a tremendous job with the reissue of your classic recording.

Absolutely. To see that new disc (with that great red color) is very moving.

Thank you. Last word is yours.

Thanks for inviting me to this interview. I hope to keep making music for a long time to come.

Klemen Breznikar

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