After studying classical clarinet at Paris’ Conservatoire National de Région and getting a Premier Prix in 1993, Thomas Savy entered the Jazz and Improvised Music department at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris in 1994. He worked under the direction of François Jeanneau, Hervé Sellin, Jean-François Jenny-Clark, Daniel Humair and François Théberge, before getting a Premier Prix in Improvisation in 1997.
Meanwhile, he assiduously played in clubs, joining small formations and quickly becoming a regular in Parisian big-bands. He contributed to the development of several projects in Contemporary Music (INA-GRM, Radio-France) and Electro (Zend Avesta) in collaboration with Arnaud Rebotini (composition, conduction, programming) and Vincent Artaud (composition, orchestration, electric bass, acoustic bass, keyboards).
A multi-instrumentalist (saxophones, clarinets, and sometimes electric bass), Savy generally plays tenor sax when performing with big formations, but his personality shows best when he plays bass clarinet. He was raised on the tradition of saxophone and big-bands, and was fascinated by the music of John Coltrane or Wayne Shorter as a child. He fully and exclusively devotes his activities as a leader and composer to this peculiar instrument.
Beyond this deep commitment to the history of Jazz and to its practice in its traditional forms, Thomas Savy feels at ease as a musician in the most modern contexts, thanks to his “double culture” both as an improviser and as a musician familiar with Contemporary Music. Thomas Savy has worked on stage and in the studio in Christophe Dal Sasso’s Nonet, Raphaël Imbert’s Nine Spirit, Pierrick Pedron’s sextet, the band Artaud, the Vintage Orchestra, François Théberge’s Slow Band, François Laudet’s big-band, Steve Potts’ Institute of Advanced Harmony, David El Malek’s “Music from Source” project, Fabien Mary’s octet and Amy Gamlen’s quintet. He has also recorded with Christian Escoudé, Patrick Artero, Rick Margitza, Julien Loureau, and established himself as a genuine expert in his instrument, combining the rigour of a Classical Music soloist with his skills as an improviser in Jazz and Contemporary Music.
Thomas Savy’s first album, Archipel, was acclaimed in France by critics (CHOC Jazzman, Disque d’émoi Jazz Magazine, fff Télérama, Le Monde) and listeners alike. Following a series of concerts of Paris, David Sanborn invited him to join his band along with the legendary brass section of Tower of Power to perform on the main stage of the Montreux Jazz
Festival in July 2008.
In June ’09, Savy went back in the studio with his bass clarinet and his compositions to record French Suite with BILL STEWART (drums) and SCOTT COLLEY (acoustic bass), at the legendary Systems Two Studios in NYC.
For Thomas Savy, meeting these two prestigious musicians he only knew through their recordings and concerts was some sort of challenge. The trio formula is both dangerous and appealing, since it allows instantaneous communication among the participants, each one of them dealing directly with the two others. There is no way to hide or shy away; all tones are bared here through the sobriety of the instrumentation and the absence of harmonic instruments (like piano or guitar) to flesh it out. The result is an album filled with energy and contrasts, sensual and poetic–an album both Colley and Stewart got fully involved in, just like Savy himself.
A great new band leader, Savy transfigures his instrument, pushing the boundaries as he explores the full range and all the nuances in the writing of music, as well as in improvisation.
French Suite is French Jazz label Plus Loin Music’s 100th album. It will be released on January 21st, 2010.