Tip! To abandon animals for music – and avant-garde jazz at that –, could seeming shocking to some people. However, it is exactly what Manuel Villarroel did, as he was a vet for three years before leaving his native Chili for Europe and a career in music. And though the animals may have suffered, the world of music can be grateful. Born in 1944, Manuel Villarroel lent an ear to the best pianists from North America: Oscar Peterson and Erroll Garner then Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner and Cecil Taylor. Manuel left Santiago in September 1970 to participate in the Contemporary Music Workshop in Berlin. To pursue his musical career, he rapidly decided to remain in Europe.
The following year in Paris, Manuel began a quartet with saxophonist Jef Sicard (who would also play with his brother Patricio, in the Dharma Quintet). But the group would rapidly expand: Villarroel and Sicard added Gérard Coppéré (saxophone), William Treve (trombone), François Méchali (bass) and Jean-Louis Méchali (drums). And with the arrival of Sonny Grey, a Jamaican trumpeter heard ten years earlier with Daniel Humair, the Matchi-Oul Septet was complete.
Complete and ready: on May 8th, 1971, Matchi-Oul was in the studio for Gérard Terronès’ Futura label. The septet recorded seven of the pianist’s compositions. A succession of tracks which flow magically from one to the next: from the first drum strokes to the last deep notes of the bass, the successive waves roll over the piano and whistle through the wind instruments. And when they all come together it gives even greater force to Villarroel’s beautiful songs. Terremoto is a masterpiece of collective expression: but what else could we expect from a “supergroup’’ of this stature?