Part 2 of my new two-part feature on Duke Ellington and Paris has appeared at PopMatters.com. It’s an interview with Laurent Mignard, director of the Duke Orchestra of Paris. This world-class repertory big band performed a sell-out concert at the Alhambra Theatre in March 2011.
Part 2: AN INTERVIEW WITH LAURENT MIGNARD
Paris still loves Duke Ellington à la folie.
In March 2011 I visited the Alhambra Theatre near the Place de la République. Laurent Mignard’s Duke Orchestra was to perform that evening. A piano tuner was working onstage. Mignard was hunched over a mixing desk in the empty theatre’s gallery, running through a series of film clips with Marilor, the band’s video artist. I looked over Mignard’s shoulder at Duke announcing a “coffee break”, laughing with Louis Armstrong back stage, defining by deflection “my people”, discussing Joan Miró and the charms of Cannes. “I have nothing against gambling,” said Duke, “particularly if you win.”
Laurent Mignard took a break from preparations to have a talk with me about his work.
How did you start the Duke Orchestra?
Laurent Mignard: The band started in 2003 in Paris with the jazz festival in Saint-Germain-des-Près. The director of the festival wanted us to recreate Duke’s Sacred Concert of 1969 in Saint-Sulpice Church (the Second Sacred Concert). That’s how the orchestra started. The show was so great that we could not stop there. We had to continue.
CONTINUE ‘AN INTERVIEW WITH LAURENT MIGNARD’
Here’s Mignard’s Duke Orchestra performing ‘Kinda Dukish’ and ‘Rockin’ in Rhythm’: