MATTHEW E. WHITE, THE HIP WHITE AND FRIED CHICKEN
Written by Marie Alice Riley
translation by Pascale Nunlist
In April 2014 the FNAC organized a free Matthew E.White showcase at the Nouveau Monde. Impossible to miss, it was the occasion to see the sweetest, coolest and most atypical american ex-jazzer reconverted into a soul preacher accompanied by an incredible quartet. The drummer got my eye , a type of brutish lout hidden in the body of a cute hipster wearing a plaid shirt and beige vinage sweater with his fixie hidden behind the kegs so as to return to the brew pub that his graphic designer friends would have opened ( all of this happens in my head of course).
They were here to promote their « Big Inner « album. A first album that was discretely but well received. As far as their musical influences are concerned, before even listening to the album, it suffices to look at the album cover on which you’ll find the portrait of Dr. John , the dignified representative of everything New orleans does the best from blues to Zydeco via boogie woogie, as well as one of King Tubby, a musical engineer and Jamaican producer at the origin of dub.
The decor is established. Add a veritable jazz education, experience as an arranger and as a guitarist in one of the best Big Bands of Richmond, his hometown, and you can start to comprehend where this first album came from.
Try and see if your hips dont sway while listening to Steady Pace:
Matthew E.White overflows in Big Inner, There were a lot of things he wanted to show; his influences, his love for Motown, a very big Phil Spector type production, brass, chords and more. This big bearded fellow with long fine hair and an imposing silhouette is a real musical encyclopedia. He analyses production, is interested in recording techniques and studies album after album in order to find its specificity like he did with the one that changed his life belonging to the new york jazz trumpet player Steven Bernstein. In an interview for Télérama he says : « He’s an atypical jazzman. the most important person I’ve met. At the age of 20 I drove all the way to New York to his place for what was meant to be a 1 hour lesson. We spent ten hours listening to discs! It was the first time that I had met someone who went form New Orleans jazz to soul music to Rock Of Ages, du Band, then to the Beatle’s “double blanc”, to the Beach Boys, to Allen Toussaint, to Miles Davis’s On The Corner… Steven taught me that it was all just one unique voice. This is what I want to achieve on my discs. That diverse influences be cited and it all makes a big whole. That day changed my life.! »
Then this year Matthew E. White took a deep breathe and came out with « Fresh Blood ». A second, less urgent and less produced album. He explains that he wanted to concentrante more on the songs and less on the production. So I ask him if he is a bit of a « control freak » and he answers that yes he loves organizing and creating but rather than dictate to people what to do he takes the time to create an entourage of good people, indicates the direction he wants to move in, sets up a type of frame and then lets them do whatever it is they do best.
I ask him what he is most proud of on the album and he tells me that above all he is happy to have been able to travel to share his music. He has less and less time for himself but it is a pretty good sign. Its the tenth time that he has had the possibility to come to Europe and he is very proud.
Its Sunday evening and there aren’t many people at the Usine PTR in Geneva. After getting out of my car hassled by two drug dealers, I congratulante myself on wearing a miniskirt and heels just right for the occasion. I wait for a long time alone with my beer, leaning on the bar for the concert to start. Dear Deer which a lot of people had spoken highly of disappointed me. Luckily between concerts there are two security guards at the entry who tell me about their most memorable souvenirs there giving me cigarette after cigarette (which I don’t dare go buy like the real fribourgeoise who goes to the big city).
Matthew arrives on stage. To my surprise its just the two of them. He is accompanied by Alan Parker a resolutely jazz guitarist from the tips of his toes to thé top of his dark blue suit who very quickly proves that he largely suffices to accompany White’s voice which is sweeter than ever. Its a cosy ambience with guitar strumming on one side and more strident chords and ….riffs on the other. accords plus marqués et riffs pêchus de l’autre. Armed with a stomp box he brings Matthew E. White everything he needs to take it slow and easy.
White imposes in spite of his little whispering voice . A bearded and hairy version of Sainath Bovay to which 30 cm of height and 40 cm of width have been added. we are dealing with a real hipster here. Not the guy who wears his pants inside out cause nobody else has, but and original and authentic hipster confirming his jazz heritage.
The songs follow and it starts of great form the beginning. A gray-haired man gratifies us with some « very good music ! » thrown towards the scene while spilling his beer but nothing spoils this moment of grace. Not even the string that breaks in spite that visibly there isn’t any other tuned guitar about. In the end Parker goes to get one, tunes and passes it to Matthews who’s laughing.
End of the set and they play the hit on thé last album : « Rock n’Roll is cold ». Everyone does the tsou na na na na, but nobody really know the words that I have loved since the album came out, notably the chorus:
You said you found the soul of rock and roll
You said you found the soul of rock and roll
Hey, hey, rock and roll, it don’t have no soul
Everybody knows that, everybody knows
Everybody knows that rock and roll is cold
You said you found the key to R&B
You said you found the key to R&B
Hey hey, R&B, it don’t have no key
Everybody sees that, everybody sees
Everybody sees that R&B is free
Because everybody likes to talk
Everybody likes to talk shit
The concert ends with a reminder. Matthew plays Stand By Me, hit by deceased Ben E. King three days prior , so as to affirm that his music needs to be nourished by the music of his idols.
What Matthew E.White would like you to listen to:
The Sleep Walkers
Lie White , another Richmond group that he says we should keep our eyes on!
leur page facebook
During our interview, which took place in thé afternoon, he confessed that his favorite dish was fried chicken. I was expecting some hippie vegan dish with ingredients to be found only in North Korea, so my prior assumptions got a good whack.
American Fried Ckicken:
-8 chicken legs
-5dl of babeurre
-2 cloves of garlic
-paprika, mustard seeds and cumin
-salt and pepper
-3l. of frying oil
Marinate the chicken in an airtight bag with the babeurre, chopperdgarlic, rosemary , salt and pepper thé night before. Keep refrigerated for 24 hours. Heat the oil in a deep pan or deep fryer if you have one. Prepare the flour with the different spices according to taste. I ground my mustard seeds with a pestle and mortar. Add salt and pepper. Beat eggs in a bowl. Place your marinated chicken in the flour, then the eggs and in the flour again. Fry till golden and crispy.
I decided to serve mine with a tomato and zucchini rice and coleslaw.
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