Patrice Meyer (guitar)

 

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Patrice Meyer        guitar

 born18/12/57 Strasbourg(France).

self-taught guitar-player since the age of 10,  creates an unique technique by using every fingernail of the right hand as a plectrum.

 

 

- 06               Tribute to Elton Dean

                      " Mahavishnu Revisited" feat. Hugh Hopper, Chris Cutler, François Verly

- 00-02         Tours in Russia with Djivan Gasparian and Didier Malherbe.

                      Progman Festival in Seattle with Pip Pyle's Bash

- 99-02         John Greaves Trio.

- 97              Tribute to Beatles and Soft Machine with ensemble Polysons.

- 95              "l'Equip'Out" with Paul Rodgers, Elton Dean.

- 94/96         Gigs with Richard Sinclair (ex Caravan) feat. Tony Coe. 

- 94              " Tertio" with Pip Pyle and Emmanuel Bex.

- 89              Trio with Pierre Moerlen (Gong) and Thierry Eckert

- 89              Joins Hugh Hopper 's quintet in Holland

- 86-87        Quartet with H.Hopper (ex Soft Machine), P.Pyle and Sophia Domancich.

- 82/83         Travels in U.S. plays with Frank Gambale.

- 81              On the road with french musicians Henri Texier, Bernard Lubat.

-79-81          Solo performances. Opens for Jim Hall.

 

                      I first picked-up a guitar in 1968, during the flower power period. My great regret, even still now, is not to be born earlier so I could go to Woodstock and Wight. As any younger brother I would wait for my older brother to leave and sneak into his room to play on his guitar.The only learning material available at this time was a chords dictionary. For the rest you got to do it yourself, playing one hundred times the same section of a vinyl record on the turntable till you were able to play along ! That's how I completely ignored this thing called plectrum. I think I was fascinated more by the sound than the music itself, especially the bass frequencies coming from the electric bass guitar which didn't exist in jazz or classical music at the time. One of my most serious trauma: "Live Cream" vol 1, I couldn't believe they were only three! Today I'm convinced that the choice of becoming a musician comes from this high vibration you get when you are a kid, too strong to be kept inside, and that you try to transmit by learning to play an instrument. My other favourite guitarists at the time:Leslie West, Johnny Winter, Rory Gallagher.

In 69 it was the big U.S. Rolling Stones Tour where they released "Get your ya-ya's out"and which ended up with Altamont, historically considered as the end of the peace and love movement after Woodstock six months earlier. That tour made a lot of publicity in Europe and I could see on pictures and posters Mick Taylor's right hand little finger separated from the other fingers. I didn't know that this position was coming naturally from the hold of his plectrum and so I thought he was playing with every finger of the right hand, including the little one, and I started imitating him. That's where my using-every-fingernail-as-a-plectrum technique comes from. I was eleven and I was sure that was the right way to do!

I was encouraged to carry on that way few years later when I saw Jaco Pastorius being able to reverse the last phalanx of his fingers, including the thumb. An anatomical specificity which had certainly a lot to do in his sound. On the opposite Allan Holdsworth surprised me when we joined both our hands for comparison : his are absolutely normals. I expected him to have extra-large ones !

So, at the age of 16, I joined my older brother's band, mostly playing progressive rock. At 20 I stopped my studies and started solo performances, opening for bands like Gong or Magma. Then I moved to Paris and was lucky to work a little bit with John Mac Laughlin, who just moved there after leaving the U.S. He opened me to jazz harmony and tonal improvisation. One day in his flat he paid me the best compliment: he stopped playing and, watching my right hand, said: "listen, it's incredible, you play even faster than me". Of course I was delighted but later on I understood it was also a way to calm down the youngster full of fingers : at that time I could only play fast and loud or very fast and very loud ! We used to talk franglish, as he wanted to practice his french, and me my english, he would speak to me in french and I would answer in english, I hope we both improved.

Jim Hall also was amazed when he saw me playing. One year later, in 81, I was opening for him and I was warming up in the backstage, turning my back to the door. I saw him in the mirror coming in and looking curiously above my shoulder. Then he picked up his guitar and tried to imitate me, making everybody laugh ! Later on he said in a magazine that I had almost made him stagefrighten and thanks to this I had a lot of gigs during the next year.

In 83 I went to see my friend Patrick Buchmann at Musician's Institute in L.A. and as soon as I arrived, was asked to challenge Franck Gambale, in the pure hollywood cowboy movie tradition. It was before he joined Chick Corea and he was at the time a simple student but already the hero of his class. After a few rehearsals, the gig took place in front of all the guitar students of the school, who didn't want to miss the match. I don't remember if there was a winner, but what I'm sure of is that, during an overspeeded cover of Jean Luc Ponty's New Country, we blew a Peavey amp with lot of smoke and sparkles. I'm still waiting for endorsement.

En 85 I met Pip Pyle who introduced me to Hugh Hopper and I immediately hired them in my quartet, though they were older and had broken much more ground than me. At the beginning it was rather funny. The first tour's promo started too late and people coming to the gigs were rather surprised to see Soft Machine's bassplayer on stage ! At the time I had an old Peugeot break, so rusty that you could see the road through the floor. To save money I decided to add a roofrack rather than renting a van. We broke our back trying to load the Fender Rhodes and bass amp on top, under winter snow. I still don't understand why they didn't sue me since.

En 86 I asked Didier Malherbe to join us for my second Lp "Dromadaire Viennois"and since then it's not a coincidence if those musicians became my main artistic family for the last 20 years, I had listened to such a lot of Soft, Gong and Caravan in my early days. During all these years we have been touring Europe but also Russia and Usa.

Last episode was Seattle Progman Festival in 2002 where we were asked to play by Jerry Cook, a progressive rock fan. A black limo picked us at the airport, all the gear we wanted arrived brand new on stage and hotel rooms were so big we got lost trying to reach the bathroom, the real american dream !

Currently, besides my own trio, I'm mostly playing with Hugh Hopper's Frangloband, Didier Malherbe Trio, and Pip Pyle' Bash.

 

 

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