Olivier Ker Ourio

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“Olivier Ker Ourio, a beautiful musician everyone is fighting to get…”
– Francis Marmande – Le Monde

“Regarding French Jazz music, Olivier Ker Ourio is what Jean-Jacques Milteau represents for French Blues music: THE REFERENCE. Mister HARMONICA. But Ker Ourio plays the chromatic, the one with the slide (allowing to play flats and sharps). The sound is different. The son of Reunion Island also marks his difference with his very personal set of tropical rythms and grooves. As he says: “My ancesters settled in Reunion Island as far back as 1728, from Lorient, Brittany. I grew up listening to Sega music and Maloya , the traditional slave music. I have a deep love for melody. As a child, I also listened a lot to Louis Armstrong…”.
Since that time, the virtuoso has constantly improved his palette. The inspired composer wrote all songs on Magic Tree album, using all kinds of grooves (Maloya, Calypso, Habanera, Cachuca…). The improvisations and choruses demonstrate considerable mastery. Sometimes, the heart overflows. At the New Morning concert, during a song dedicated to his wife Jenn (a song on the album), the leader goes for a wonderful second chorus that killed everyone. At this concert, three giants performed with him: guitarist Philip Catherine, drummer André Ceccarelli, Hammond organ player Emmanuel Bex. Ker Ourio likes to dialogue. He listens, respects, shines at his turn. The first time he was introduced to Michel Petrucciani, they played till 7 in the morning . Other great musicians fell under his spell: Michel Legrand, Georges Moustaki, Aldo Romano, Rick Margitza….No surprise: he never stops telling stories. Who would decline a good story ?”
Bruno Pfeiffer – Libé – December 2010

“For the Jazz harmonica world, Toots Thielemans, the man who transformed this toy instrument into an essential voice in Jazz and Cinema (just remember “The Getaway”, by Sam Peckinpah in 1972), is still the main figure. With his seventh album since 1998, MAGIC TREE, Olivier Ker Ourio gets to shine in his own light, breathing calmly in his harmonica as on a summer night. The light is soft, the son of Reunion Island climbed the magic tree of his childhood and looks at the sunset over Saint-Denis. He dreams. And he has ideal partners: Emmanuel Bex, who mixes warmly the sounds of his Hammond organ with the sometimes very close mouth organ sounds; Philip Catherine, the one and only, king of melody; André Ceccarelli who discreetly anchors the boat.
All Ker Ourio’s original compositions swing with island rythms: calypso, habanera, cachucha, maloya…, that the Jazz critic will uneasily identify, while Olivier Ker Ourio euphorically improvises with generous lyricism. It is easy to understand why so many great musicians, from Michel Petrucciani to Ralph Towner, from George Moustaki to Michel Legrand, from Aldo Romano to Rick Margitza, insisted to play with him: he breaths with the soul.
Michel Contat 4 Clés Telerama (Rating: * * * * n° 3175 – 20 nov 2010)

“In the family of wind instruments, there is a brotherhood of the highly gifted, blessed by the gods. They are musicians whose breath is naturally colored with music. As soon as they put their instrument to their lips – whether it is a saxophone, a trumpet, a flute or a harmonica – the music is there, right away, guileless and inescapable. Like a truth that immediately plunges the listener into a state of weightlessness with the sheer honesty of its inner voice. This lyrical endowment is called charm. Lester Young, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Stan Getz and a few others have succeeded in harnessing this gift, which transforms breath into “something blue that appeared like a wing” (Victor Hugo). Olivier Ker Ourio definitely belongs to this clan of the chosen.
With this first album under the label Dreyfus Jazz, Olivier Ker Ourio invites us to take a new and elemental voyage… this gentle nomad of the harmonica has chosen, for each track, fellow travelers in his own image. All are true adventurers of musical freedom: pianists Manuel Rocheman and Jean-Michel Pilc, guitarists Sylvain Luc and Louis Winsberg, vocalists André Minvielle and Danyel Waro, trombonist Glenn Ferris and kayamb player Laurent Dalleau, not to forget a fantastic rhythm section with André Ceccarelli and Diego Imbert… At every turn, we find charm and magic, swing and poetry. How rare!”
Jazzman 2008 – Pascal Anquetil (* * * *)

“Every passing day bears witness to the growing celebrity of Olivier Ker Ourio. In his case, this highly flattering rumor is the sign of good news. For nothing better has happened for the jazz harmonica since Toots Thielemans.
You have to admit, a compliment of this kind is hardly a small matter. Even so, it hardly suffices, considering that the illustrious, two-fold merit of the celtic musician lies in his ability to differentiate himself from the Belgian, all the while putting himself in the direct line of fire of Toots’ diabolical mastery, by willingly accepting the formidable privilege of confronting Toots on his home territory: lyricism.
If someone is delighted about the news, knowing him a little, I’d say it’s uncle Toots – guest artist, by the way, on one of the tracks. But he couldn’t possibly be more delighted than we are: an enchanting new voice is born.”
Diapason – Alain Gerber ( * * * * * )

“You listen, in a packed room, to all the greats: Aldo Romano, Pieranunzi, and above all, the excellent Olivier Ker Ourio – rival harmonicist of Toots Thielemans – who performs his own compositions to the accompaniment of pianist Pierre de Bethmann and Gildas Boclé on double bass. Music, so it seems, that makes us the envy of even the Americans…”
– Paris Match –

“As regards the harmonica, an instrument thought to be easy by the general public, and which can, in fact, be too easily charming, Toots Thielemans has finally found a plausible, even delightful, successor in the person of Olivier Ker Ourio, a melody-maker who fears neither humor nor emotion…”
– Télérama – Michel Contat –

“In his hands, the harmonica skips off the beaten path, plays the star, reels with delight, and comes back to hit you when you least expect it. He expresses his artistic liberty without forgetting the melody, the original meaning… Ker Ourio gives this instrument the prestige it merits. Finally!”
– La Liberté (Switzerland) –

“A feeling for soaring melodies, panoramic harmonies, and swinging rhythms, the idea that a vivacious interplay between jazz and caribbean music (Ker Ourio is from Reunion Island) can and does exist, make for the components of an art that Ker Ourio has been refining through the music of three albums as leader, independent of all passing fads and fashions.
“A Ride with the Wind”, far from being a break in this evolution, seems more like a logical development out of the preceding album, “Oté l’ancêtre !” It confirms the virtues of an imaginative composer, a soloist with a voice that sparkles like a ray of light, whose precision and delicate sense for contrast complement an infinitely invigorating sense of rhythm…”
– Jazz Magazine – Jean Levin

“Though the main musician of the chromatic harmonica has long been T. Thielemans, thanks to him the instrument is attracting new players.
In France, Olivier is slowly but surely, and with great authority, gaining ground – as a guest artist on numerous albums, adding that extra touch that makes the melody sing, or, in this case, as group leader in the company of his faithful friends and Toots, who’s always ready to join in and make Olivier shine.
Ker Ourio performs his compositions with remarkable emotion, giving his nine original works a delectable sense of freshness. We can rest assured that thanks to him, the instrument will continue to evolve, and what a great pleasure that is for us. A truly talented musician.”
Jazz Notes –

“You can’t help asking yourself the question: what does a Jazz harmonica have to offer? The answer is simple: just about everything, and above all, an immense pleasure to the ears. Ker Ourio is formidably inspired…”
– Le Journal de Saône et Loire –

“Olivier Ker Ourio, with his harmonica, has a quasi-fusional quality. Far beyond the general rule of habitual complicity that unites artists and their instruments, in any case… No doubt the public is nowhere near to forgetting this man from Reunion Island with celtic roots, nor the thousand-and-one facets of an instrument too often misrepresented by films about the Far West. Ker Ourio plays with a lyricism that reaffirms the quality of this funny little instrument…”
– L’Est Républicain –

“This creole musicien with distant celtic ancestors (hence the family name…) is quite simply to be considered the world’s greatest specialist of his instrument. The new album “A Ride with the Wind” is the sure mark of a new and decisive phase in the evolution of this self-made musician, whose career is just waiting to explode.”
– La Terrasse –

“Ker Ourio sure doesn’t miss his mark with the harmonica. ‘Cause this instrument is really his thing. His music relies on simple melodies and a beautiful sense of space…”
– Nova Magazine –

“Olivier is rapidly evolving as a musician – as an instrumentalist and above all, as a composer. His music is fresh, modern, and carries the message of his roots.
His themes are not just subjects for improvisation: the melodies stick with you. I feel I’ve participated in an important project, and I hope I’ve done justice to… CESAR… Bravo to everyone and Thanks, Olivier.”
– Toots Thielemans, December 2000


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