Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Amsallem, Franck

Amsallem, Franck , pianist, composer; b. Oran, Algeria, 25 October 1961. In July 1962, at the end of Algeria's war of independence, his parents (Sylviane Cohen, b. 1929 and Elie Amsallem, b. 1922) and four siblings (Richard, b. 1951; Philippe, b. 1954; Pierre, b. 1955; and Dominique, b.1959) moved to Nice, France, where all (except Richard, who lives in Paris) have remained. Another younger sister, Nathalie (b. 1966 in Nice), is a professional classical pianist. As a child, Franck took piano lessons from age 7-11. At age 14 he entered the Nice Conservatory where he studied classical saxophone from 1975-1981 and was awarded a first prize in 1981.

In 1980, while attending the conservatory, Franck formed a piano trio which played at the Off festival (George Wein's "Grande Parade du Jazz"), where Richie Cole, Jerry Bergonzi and others came to jam during the festival. He was also selected to be tutored for a day by John lewis in a documentary film on the art of improvisation ("La Lesson de Musique," 1979).

After graduating from the Nice Conservatory in 1981, Franck received a full scholarship from the French Ministere de la Culture to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston for three years. Franck performed in Herb Pomeroy's Recording Band while at Berklee, and he received Berklee's Count Basie Award (1983) and Oscar Peterson Award (1984) for overall student musicianship. He also studied classical piano and a few voice lessons (he sometimes sings in concert). Franck next spent two summers studying at The Banff Summer School Program (1984 and1985), then directed by Dave Holland. He soon moved to New York, where, from 1986-1987, he attended the Manhattan School of Music, earning an MA degree in Jazz Composition under composer Bob Brookmeyer. While in New York, he also studied classical piano with Phil Kawin for three years, from 1987-1990.

Franck's first appearance with a major jazz name was in 1990 with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. He was an active participant in the first BMI Jazz Composition Workshop (1988-90), under Bob Brookmeyer's direction. In June, 1989, his big band music was performed by the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra at the Village Vanguard. His compositions for big band have also been performed at the Aspen (1986) and Wolftrap (1989) music festivals and by the Henri Mancini Institute at UCLA (2000).

His third stream composition "Nuits" for string orchestra and jazz soloist, premiered in 1993 in Boulogne-sur-mer,(France), and was performed by the Mancini Institute in Los Angeles (1999). This program has also been performed by the Romanian Virtuosi in Bucharest, (Romania), and Rousse, (Bulgaria) and by the Orchestre de Flandre-Wallonie (with Bireli Lagrene as the soloist), and les Musiciens du Louvre in Montbeliard (France). Franck has also been commissioned by the Paris-based Orchestre National de Jazz (Genesis), Metropolitan Opera trumpeter Mark Gould (arrangements on Jobim, Gershwin and Weill), the Prism Saxophone Quartet (The Farewell), the Fulcrum Point New Music Ensemble in Chicago (Place du Temps) and the Manhattan New Music Project (The Music Box). He has appeared as a guest conductor with the Grenoble Jazz Orchestra at the Village Gate, the McGill big band in Montreal for the CBC, the Cote d'Opale Big Band.

He has spoken, taught, and conducted small and large ensembles and performed at colleges (Mc Gill, Western Michigan, Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris (CNSM) and many others throughout Europe); most major NY jazz clubs (Blue Note, Village Gate, Birdland, Knitting Factory, Knickerbocker, Sweet Basil, others); and radio stations in the U.S. , (1993, 1996, New Sounds), many major festivals (France, Finland, Belgium, Portugal, Norway, etc.).

In 2000, he married for the second time to M. Therese Walsh and has one daughter, Laila (b. 2001).

Jazz composition fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (1989)
Fondation de la Vocation award from French president, Francois Mitterand (1989)
ASCAP Young Composers award for his composition "Arabesque" (1991)
Second prize winner at Jacksonville's Great American Jazz Piano Competition (1992)

Is That So (1990); Out A Day (also released as Another Time) (1990); Regards (1993;) Years Gone By (1995); On Second Thought (1998); Summer Times (2003)
As sideperson:
Tim Ries: Europ Jazz Contest 89: 11 th Jazz Hoeilaart International (1989), Imaginary Time (1994); J.L. Almosnino-Nagette Haider: Sous Verre (1991; Amsallem also produced); Michel Perez "Toujours" (1991; Amsallem also produced); New York Stories (1992); Prism Quartet: Real Standard Time (1994); Yule Be-Boppin' (also released as Blue Note Now as Then) (1994)
As producer:
Orchestre National de Jazz 1989: African Dream (1989); Frank Griffith: The Suspect (1990); Olivier Ker Ourio:Central Park Nord (1997)
Unissued recordings:
Martial Solal show, a Radio-France broadcast (1995, 1996, 1997)
Many national broadcasts at the Maison de la Radio in Paris.
Quartet with Tim Ries live at the Blue Note, NY, April 1997
WNYC (Manhattan; 1993, 1996 New Sounds)
Radio-France, RTBF (Belgium), Bulgarian radio.
Radio interviews across the U.S:
WGBH (Boston ; 1983, Kalamazoo MI,)
and in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway,

"la leon de Musique" with John Lewis (1979)
"Jazz a Calvi"(1996)

Magazines with interviews:
Jazz Magazine (1991, 1996)
Jazz Hot (1992)
Jazzman (1993, 2000)
Compact (1993)
So What (1998)
Jazz in time (1993, 1994)
Jazzaround (1996)
Interviews on the Internet:

Le jazz, July 1997 issue (website defunct); interview conducted by Alain Le Roux on June 1, 1997

Contact information:

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