Daniel Mille

Daniel Mille

"Sometimes, when he destroys a little pearly button, he nicks another from a jacket to stick on his accordion". Such was Serge Gainsbourg’s comment in his own tribute to accordionists and, like the author of that lyric, Daniel Mille is also a lover of melody, a true Impressionist of the accordion : for, echoing those two lines from a forgotten song, the traits that guide this artist’s nimble fingers are emotion and poetry, lyrical landscapes, sensuality, furtive moments and atmosphere in between. Because, whenever one talks about Daniel Mille, and even before words like "style", "instrument" or "technique" are mentioned, there’s the matter of the "voyage", and the emotions and vibrations one feels inside his magnificent universe.

It’s no longer a question of expectancy, because the record is here... the sixth from Daniel Mille, a musician from an imaginary film, and a storyteller whose tales are filled with tenderness and a timeless elegance. "L’Attente", or "Expectation", is also the title of the first movement he composed for this ten-leg voyage. It’s the period of expectancy during which the musician patiently waited for the melodies to come to him, all the while stubbornly insisting on a single note, sometimes two : a mere chord or, why not, two, each seemingly distant from the other yet equally capable of surprise.

It was in this frame of mind that the album took form : beneath fingers resting on buttons made of mother-of-pearl.

No expectations at all were involved when it came to his choice of a crew : their empathy with the leader’s sensibilities was to be total. His companions chose themselves, obviously, so unavoidable were they in terms of talent, friendship and soul... On drums was a legend, André Ceccarelli (Daniel Mille had dreamed of playing with him for years) ; there were also eager youngsters like the talented bassist Jérôme Regard (the accordionist confesses he has trouble managing without him ever since he discovered him two years ago) ; experienced hands were there too, like the excellent—and too little-known—pianist Alfio Origlio, a regular member of the Mille quintet ; some fellow-travellers joined them : the dreamy, warm bugle of Stéphane Belmondo for example, and the polychromatic, bracing profusion of Minino Garay on percussion. The handsome, deep voice and nonchalant phrasing of Jean-Louis Trintignant can also be heard on Boris Vian’s text, "Je voudrais pas crever" (Mille has been working with Trintignant for some fifteen years, and they’ve already made two beautiful records together). There were even two "brothers", "two odd little fellows with suspended breath" as the saying goes, the elder being the immense Marcel Azzola and the younger, Lionel Suarez, who’s grabbed by everyone these days (in fact, the fraternal reed-and-bellows partnership that dashes off "Place Sainte Catherine", a singular, reeling waltz that was composed by Mille in the purest of traditions, and which turns out to be much more than a simple accordion-waltz association.) The tune had been buried deep inside a drawer for ages, and Daniel Mille’s yearning to share it with Marcel and Lionel left him little choice. And let’s not forget the others : Eric Legnini, a pianist when he’s not officiating behind a console or a laptop, is a faithful friend and co-arranger ; he was also a marvellous artistic adviser throughout the recording, and he lent an expert, brotherly ear—as on the earlier record "Après la pluie"—while leaving his fingerprints on the keyboard in the Brazilian tune "Retrato en branco e preto" ; Rolando Faria, a member of the legendary Brazilian duo Les Etoiles, already present on Daniel Mille’s first record in 1994, provides his unique voice for a tune by Astor Piazzola ; the indescribable Jean-Christophe Maillard, always there where you least expect him, and who was also present on Daniel Mille’s first three albums, here threads his way through "L’Attente" like the emperor’s cat... And finally, there’s the incredible clarinettist Stéphane Chausse, with whom Daniel Mille plays an astonishing duet that just had to be included in this reunion between friends.

With this crew surrounding him, Daniel Mille has produced a dazzling, moving record which confirms him as a musician who stands apart, not only in the world of the accordion but in the world of music, period. Daniel Mille is a poet and traveller who excels in the art of taking the listener by the hand ; he leads him on a journey down trails where he himself gleaned these pearls of melody, little bits of dreams and visions of other places...

These titles are jewels of sound, and they give life a taste that’s impalpable, persistent and essential. Perhaps the final expectancy of this wandering entertainer filled with notes is the feeling you get, when you listen to this album, that these are ten moments of pleasure—instants which, precisely, make you forget the wait— that make the artist deserve "much more than charity" (c.f. Serge Gainsbourg).