Photo of Jean-Pierre Decerf

Biography of Jean-Pierre Decerf

(version française ici)

Jean-Pierre Decerf was born on July 11, 1948 in Neuilly sur Seine. He quickly developed a passion for music and at the age of 12 received his first acoustic guitar, it was a revelation.
Although largely self-taught, he endeavored to take a few musical courses.

In the early ’60s, the Beatles phenomenon and pop music took hold and changed his life forever.
Around the age of 14-15, he started a band with friends from school, called “The Witchers”, whose repertoire was inspired by the Yardbirds, Pretty Things, Them, Sorrows, Action, Who and other bands of the time. The group performed in numerous clubs in the Paris area for three years.

Realizing that simply imitating others wasn’t enough to progress, he decided to study music in his own way, listening to the most diverse works in different musical styles: Pop, Jazz, Classical.

In 1970, he joined Pathé Cinéma as composer, which gave him the opportunity to meet several film directors, one of whom, Carlos Villardebo, entrusted him with the creation of the original score for his film “Les Trois Vallées”.
This was a turning point for him, and he decided to devote himself to musical composition.

Shortly afterwards, he was contacted by Montparnasse 2000, a library music publisher, for whom he produced 6 LPs over the years.
At the same time, he met an Australian composer, Lawrence Whiffin, 18 years his senior, a passionate fan of Ravel, Stravinsky and Debussy, and a pupil of Alfred Cortot.
The young musician was fascinated by the talent of the man who years later would become a lecturer at the Melbourne University of Music and winner of the Australian Classical Music Awards in 1999. The positive influence he received led to a close friendship and, a little later, to the joint creation of an album entitled Thèmes Médicaux on the Chicago 2000 label.

In 1975, Jean-Pierre left Pathé Cinéma and joined Gaumont, still working as composer. It was also at this time that he abandoned the guitar for the keyboard, an instrument closer to the music he wanted to compose.
At Gaumont, he met Renaldo Cerri, director of the Chicago 2000 label, on several occasions and began a fruitful collaboration that would last several years.
This was first brought to fruition in 1977 with the album Univers Spatial Pop, an avant-garde synthetic space rock, followed by Out of the Way in the same vein.

In 1976, Renaldo introduced Jean-Pierre to a young singer-songwriter of Mauritian origin, Clarel Betsy. The two musicians found a strong affinity and decided to collaborate with Gérard Zajd, a guitarist and childhood friend of Jean-Pierre, on a concept album entitled Magical Ring. The album was released commercially in 1977 and one of its tracks, “More and More”, became a FIP radio hit.
But rather than stop then and there, Jean-Pierre and his friends Clarel and Gérard set out to create a new group, which he christened Open Air.
The three musicians meet in Jean-Pierre’s home studio outside of Paris, and in this peaceful setting, they worked out sophisticated, melodic music in a progressive rock style, following in the footsteps of bands such as Caravan, Genesis, Yes and Camel.
Recording and mixing took place under the direction of producer Renaldo Cerri at Studio Adam in Roissy en Brie, a renowned high-performance studio where the musicians benefited from the excellent technical input of sound engineer Philippe Beaucamp.
The trio is completed by guitarist Jean-Pierre Auffredo (founder of We Free and Alice), Allan Jones (ex-bassist of the English band The Mojos) and drummer Philippe Aboukrat.
In 1978, the record was distributed by Sofrason and Jean-Pierre was very satisfied with the result and thought of organizing concerts for the band. Unfortunately, the poor sales of Open Air, due in part to the public’s lack of interest in progressive rock, led the musician to cancel everything.
The short-lived group broke up, not without bitterness, but the members kept in touch.

Jean-Pierre then decided to return to what he had been doing and recorded the album Keys of Future under his own name, a synthetic and visual music that still fascinates him.
The album was a big hit with audiovisual professionals.
Building on this momentum and spurred on by the reception he received, in 1979 he composed a new, very personal album, Reincarnation, also on the Pema Music label. The musical mood this time was somewhat different, softer and a little less synthetic.

In the same prolific year, he made a brief appearance on Jacky Giordano’s Musax label, then he produced the album Sound Space for Montparnasse 2000, a must-have for some collectors.

In 1980, he was contacted by the Patchwork label headed by René Taquet, an old acquaintance of Pathé-Cinéma. For the latter, Jean-Pierre composed the album Action with his friend Gérard Zajd; this record reveals strong, contrasting musical atmospheres inspired by Tangerine Dream.
This was followed by the album Pulsations, for Montparnasse 2000, his last with this publisher, but not one of the least interesting. One of the tracks from this album became the theme of a weekly political program on FR3.

In 1981, new record for Patchwork, Accélération, which was very different from all its previous recordings: more acoustic, more tempered, more reflective, with melodic themes at the center, the general tonality creating optimism and the rhythmic parts taking a groovy turn.

Then suddenly, between this record and 1984, radio silence.

In 1984, the Decerf-Zajd tandem reappeared and decided to produce their own disco-funk single!
This musical genre has nothing to do with the music they are attached to, but never mind. Here they are in the studio with a horn section, singer and backing singers, recording the song “Manhattan” and its instrumental “Dither”.
The single never saw the light of day, but the instrumental version was released by CBS Songs.

In 1986, Jean-Pierre recorded Moments for Patchwork with the help of his guitarist friend Jean-Pierre Auffredo. It’s a new stage, the music is resolutely oriented towards jazz fusion. It’s powerful, the atmospheres are heavy and often dark, the construction is effective and convincing, and once again the image is omnipresent.
This would be his last album.

On April 22, 1990, to celebrate Earth Day, Open Air reunited for a concert at the Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris, performing two new songs, “Beauty’s Deep” and “Don’t die Mother Earth”.
A CD including these two tracks and the original 1978 album was released a few weeks later by progressive rock specialists Musea.

In 2001, the French band Air sampled the track “Arabian Era” from the album Sound (Montparnasse 2000) for their track “Don’t Be Light”.

In 2012, German artist Cro sampled the track “Spatial Feeling” from the album Magical Ring (CRC Editions) for his song “Ein Teil”.

In 2015, Born Bad Records released Space Oddities, a compilation of tracks by Jean-Pierre Decerf recorded between 1975 and 1979.

Farfalla Records continues to explore the Jean-Pierre Decerf universe by selecting some of his recordings through its various compilations.