A few months ago, Phnom Penh-based bass player, guitarist and bandleader Sebastien Adnot was invited to Hong Kong by his friend and fellow musician Roy Stark. He enjoyed it so much he went back for a busking tour with Nono, his violinist friend and colleague from the long running jazz manouche outfit Hot Club de Phnom Penh. There they met Italian Daniele Villela, who was also busking on the Hong Kong streets, and swiftly organised a regular Tuesday gypsy jazz jam session at a small bar, Club 71, where they met many players, including violinist Sharon Lui and guitarist Antoine Richard.
On April 26, the Angelo Debarre Trio came to play in Hong Kong. “Angelo is one of the best guitar players in the world!” exclaims Sebastien. “Sharon was performing with him for Jazz Marathon 2019 that day. She got us backstage pass and we spent the day with him and his trio.” This led to a jam after the show. “Just pure magic for us!”
Sebastian with Angelo Debarre, photo supplied
“I asked Angelo what he thought about a gypsy jazz band with two violin players,” says Sebastien. “He liked the idea, and that motivated us to do so. Nomades was born this day.”
So the band new was assembled. “The first musician to join us was Daniele, an absolute virtuoso on guitar, with perfect style, perfect swing, and very creative. He brings us tightness and style, and is always surprising in improvisation.”
Then came Sharon. “She is a classical trained violinist from Hong Kong, with many of the same qualities as Daniele, a beautiful sound and technique, tight, inspirational and brings a strong personality. She has performed or studied with many of the gypsy jazz elite, like Angelo Debarre, Tcha Limberger, Adrien Moignard, Sebastien Giniaux, and Denis Chang, and she’s famous in Hong Kong already.
“And finally, to complete the team, we asked Antoine Richard to join. He is a wonderful French guitarist based in Hong Kong, really inspired, and with an amazing knowledge of the gypsy jazz style. It’s easier to ask him what songs he doesn’t know than what songs he knows! He and I have a very similar sense of rhythm, and during performance we are frequently perfectly synchronized. He is a beautiful soloist as well – he was the missing link.” Voila!
Nomades at work, photo supplied
“We performed together in Hong Kong six or seven times in May, including at Salon 10, one of the most prestigious jazz clubs in Hong Kong. Every time the band was smoking!”
And there’s no slowing down. “Sharon and Daniele have joined us this week in Phnom Penh to record an album in Fadda Studio, which is run by myself and Pavel Lipsky, a remarkable sound engineer. Antoine will record his parts in Hong Kong, as his schedule didn’t allow him to travel this time.” Plans are for a ten track album for digital release at the end of July – and there will be a very special guest whose identity is remaining secret for now.
“We are already invited to perform in Shanghai at the end of June, and we will fly to Osaka in July. We will continue to meet regularly in Hong Kong where the band was born, as we have invitations to perform in a couple of venues.” And after that? “Who knows? Nomades says it all – that’s what we are, travelling musicians. The dream is to raise the band to an international level…”
In the meantime, their mini tour of Phnom Penh this week includes a show at Bouchon tonight (Wednesday 5), then Alchemy on Saturday night and Sofitel Phnom Penh Pokheethra on Sunday morning at 11.30 am.