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“For us, music is about collaboration, it is about people. The reason we got together to form this company in 2012, beyond the obvious musical connection and solid friendship, is that every stage in our work, from writing to performance, thrives on a process which can only function with multiple voices, multiple points of view. The company gives us the strength that comes from working together, that “umbrella” that we needed to gather together all of our creative energy, to channel the flow of our respective forces into original creations with this very particular sound that we have been developing, born out of our various musical worlds, our “multi-artistic” careers, out of travelling together and sharing our most insane dreams.”
Compagnie Impérial is a collection of some of the most dynamic creators and improvisers on the French music scene. They have performed in and worked with some of the most innovative musical ensembles: Surnatural Orchestra, Tous Dehors, Jean Louis, and the Coax collective. A determinedly contemporary musical approach – along with the intense energy they generate on stage and the pleasure they clearly take in sharing their music – make Compagnie Impérial a collective like no other. They draw on influences from all four corners of today’s musical world, daring to combine the energy of rock with operatic lyricism, the delicacy of jazz, pop tunes, and Mandinka rhythms. This diverse range of influences is expressed in four configurations, each with its own clear identity: Impérial Quartet, Impérial Pulsar, Impérial Orphéon, and GRIO.
Brothers in arms since childhood, saxophonists Damien Sabatier and Gérald Chevillon were invited by Antonin Leymarie and Joachim Florent to create Impérial Quartet in 2009; the first album was released on IMR, to be followed by a second on Naïve. They got their first public exposure via the AFIJMA’s “Jazz Migration” programme, and the Jazz à Vienne Rezzo Focal competition. On stage, carried by a responsive, generous, solid rhythm, always on the alert, they use the full range of saxophones (from bass to sopranino), to create an unpredictable visual performance with a unique acoustic spectrum.
They then formed Impérial Orphéon with vocalist and accordion player Rémy Poulakis, a kind of modern ‘orchestre de bal’ – folk dance group – inspired by popular music and music made for dancing.
It was with the arrival of percussionists Ibrahima Diabaté and Ali Diarra that Impérial Pulsar then came into being, with support from the Scène Nationale in Sète, the Bassin de Thau, Jazz en L’R, and Jazz (s)RA.
Finally, GRIO (GRand Impérial Orchestra) was born, with musicians from Impérial Quartet joining forces with Aki Rissanen, Simon Girard, Fred Roudet, and Aymeric Avice.