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Portrait: OZMA


Bartosch Salmanski

The French Explosive Jazz Quintet OZMA, led by drummer Stéphane Scharlé, has toured the world, performing more than 450 concerts in 39 different countries. In 2021, the renowned group will embark on their first tour of the United States! The tour will be supported by Jazz & New Music, a program of FACE Foundation in collaboration with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. OZMA has already scheduled concerts in Sarasota, Florida, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and New York, among others, to present their latest album Hyperlapse. The group also plans to play movie concerts and provide workshops for various audiences.

OZMA: a multifaceted group

If you’re familiar with NASA’s first project to detect the signs of extraterrestrial life, predecessor to the SETI project, then you’ll know where the name OZMA comes from. As surprising as it may be, the French Jazz Quintet’s name is inspired by this extraordinary project. But why? As the quintet’s bassist, Édouard Séro-Guillaume, explained in an interview, “it’s another link to science fiction, the imaginary, dreams … We liked this side of looking towards the unknown.” Indeed, OZMA embraces this imaginary side with their unusual repertoires existing somewhere between exploratory jazz and electric rock, as well as through shows that combine image and music, including photo-concerts and movie-concerts. These fascinating aspects of the group and its inspiration are what make them a renowned quintet.  

In 2010, OZMA was invited to create a concert for the film Vampyr, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. Since this experience, the group has performed for films including Buster Keaton’s The Three Ages, Sergei Eisenstein’s The Battleship Potemkin, and Harry O. Hoyt’s The Lost World. Today, the group’s unique representation on screen is one of the distinctive features of the OZMA group!  

OZMA started at the Strasbourg Conservatory in 2001 with Adrien Dennefeld playing the guitar, Édouard Séro-Guillaume on bass, and Stéphane Scharlé on the drums. Three years later, the trio evolved into a quintet with the arrival of Guillaume Nuss on trombone and David Florsch on saxophone. Since the release of their album Welcome Home in 2016, the quintet has stabilized around drummer Stéphane Scharlé; bassist Edouard Séro-Guillaume; trombonist Guillaume Nuss, back after ten years as a solo artist; guitarist Tam de Villiers; and saxophonist and keyboardist Julien Soro. This year, the group will release a new album, Hyperlapse, dedicated to the 10 cities crossed by the group during their 2018 international tour.  

Hyperlapse: an album with cinematographic overtures 

After being recognized as Export Success 2018 by the Export Office (the third-most exported French group after Youn Sun Nah and Tigran Hamasyan), OZMA is back with Hyperlapse, a travel diary of their tour which takes listeners through Beijing, Hamburg, Marrakesh, and Mumbai. Coined after a term popular in the audiovisual field, Hyperlapse is an album entirely composed by Stéphane Scharlé with an electronic echo and a powerful rhythm, reminding listeners of cinematic scores. The title is also a tribute to film director Juliette Ulrich, who followed the band on their world tour in 2018 and who filmed the album’s music videos as well as a web series accompanying the release of the album.  

The sound textures of the 10 songs, each dedicated specifically to a city where the band played in 2018, are paired with bewitching visual accompaniment. The album reflects cultural shocks as well as unforgettable encounters, making its sensorial journey a surprising mix of melancholic ambiances with rock-n-roll energy. A truly explosive jazz to discover soon in the US! 

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