When it comes to playing the score to a silent movie, there are virtually no rules. Obviously, the sound has to be synchronized with the picture but you can either read a sheet or improvise. You can play the banjo, the accordion or the organ. You can play on your own, in a quartet or with a full philharmonic orchestra. As Jean-François Zygel once said*, «a silent movie is never finished because any musician can suggest a new reading of it.» Eighty-four years after the release of Asphalt, Norwegian jazzman Bugge Wesseltoft and German DJ Henrik Schwarz are bound to shed a new light on the movie.
There is a genuine chemistry when these two meet on stage. Both big fans of improvisation Schwarz usually records what Wesseltoft is playing, remixes the sounds, uses the fragments to react to Wesseltoft’s music, who reacts again, and so on in a sort of musical ping pong.
On Friday though it will be slightly different - but as exciting - as they will premiere their score to Joe May’s dark Asphalt. They will performed the piece, commissioned by the Philharmonie, together with four soloists of the OPL: Damien Pardoen (violin), Jean-Marc Apap (viola), Laurence Vautrin (cello) and James Kent (bass trombone). We all wonder what they have up their sleeves and can't wait to be Friday for the big reveal.
* Jean-François Zygel, Accompagner le cinéma muet, bonus content to L'Argent by Marcel L’Herbier (Carlotta-Films), as quoted here.