Some of his most recognized work includes albums like Oxygene, Equinoxe, Magnetic Fields, Zoolook, Rendez-vous, Chronologie, Oxygene 7-13 and Metamorphoses.
Jarre hold four Guiness World Records for biggest concert audience: Place De La Concorde (1979, 1 mil.), Rendez-Vous Houston (1986, 1.5 mil.), Paris La Defense (1990 2 mil.) and Oxygen in Moscow (1997, 3.5 mil.). In 1995 he was awarded Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur from the French Government and since 1993 he’s UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. An asteroid, 4422 Jarre, has been named in his honour. Jarre has sold an estimated 80 million albums and singles.
Jean Michel Jarre is the son of famous French composer Maurice Jarre and France Jarre. His parents separated when he was 5 years old, his father moved to the United States (he did not see him again until the age of 18), and Jarre remained with his mother in the suburbs of Paris. In childhood Jarre studied piano but the experience proved difficult. His more general interest in musical instruments was sparked by the discovery of a trumpet violin created by Boris Vian. His mother regularly took him to her friend’s Paris jazz club, Le Chat Qui Pêche (The Fishing Cat). As an art form, jazz introduced Jarre to the idea that music may be “descriptive, without lyrics.” He was also influenced by the work of French artist Pierre Soulages; aged 14–15 he viewed an exhibition by the artist at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Soulages’ paintings used multiple textured layers, and Jarre would later reflect on the experience — “…I suddenly realised that for the first time in music, you could act as a painter with frequencies and sounds.”
Jarre became a painter, exhibiting some of his works at the Lyon Gallery, L’Oeil Ecoute. He also played in a band called Mystère IV. While he studied at the Lycée Michelet his mother arranged for him to take lessons in harmony, counterpoint and fugue with Jeannine Rueff of the Conservatoire de Paris. In 1967 he played guitar in a band called The Dustbins, which appears in the film “Des garçons et des filles.” In 1968 Jarre began to experiment with tape loops, radios, and other electronic devices. A year later he joined the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (Music Research Group) under the direction of Pierre Schaeffer, the “father of musique concrète.” Jarre’s time at GRM proved hugely influential — Schaeffer’s view was that “music isn’t made of notes, it’s made of sounds.”
In the kitchen of his flat at Paris, Jean Michel set up a small recording studio, which included EMS VCS 3 and EMS Synthi AKS synthesizers and two linked Revox tape machines. For a 1969 exposition at the Maison de la Culture (Cultural House) in Reims, he wrote a five minute song named Happiness Is a Sad Song (unreleased). He later worked at Karlheinz Stockhausen’s studio in Cologne.
Jarre’s first commercial release, the 1971 single titled La Cage/Erosmachine, was a mixture of harmony, tape effects, and synthesizers. He also composed music for ballet, theatre, advertisements and television programs, as well as music and lyrics for artists like Patrick Juvet and Christophe. In the same year choreographer Norbert Schmucki commissioned Jarre to perform a ballet at the Palais Garnier, named AOR (light in Hebrew).
In 1972 Jarre released his debut album, Deserted Palace. Also in 1972 he wrote music for the International Festival of Magic and later he composed the soundtrack for Les Granges Brûlées. During 1973–74 he wrote music for Françoise Hardy and Gérard Lenorman, and acted as director for Christophe’s Olympia show.
In 1976 he released the legendary Oxygene at Disques Motors, Francis Dreyfuss’ label. This album is widely regarded as one of the best albums of electronic music. Oxygene makes strong use of melody rather than rhythm or dissonance, and a collection of keyboards and synthesizers to create a range of sound textures and melodies. Key components of the album’ sound included Eminent 310, Mellotron, Electro-Harmonix Small Stone phaser on the Eminent’s string pads, the Korg Minipops drum machine and liberal use of echo on various sound effects generated by the VCS3 synthesizer. Oxygene has since sold an estimated 12 million copies, and is the best-selling French record of all time. It became a huge success in his native France, reached #2 in the UK album charts, #65 in Canada, and broke the Top 100 in the US. The album contains his most recognisable single, Oxygene Part 4, which reached #4 in the UK single charts.
The following album, Equinoxe was released in 1978. The album employs a more baroque and classical style than Oxygene and also makes use of sequencing, particularly on the bass. Equinoxe reached #11 in the UK album charts and was promoted by two singles: Equinoxe Part 4 and Equinoxe Part 5. In 1979 on Bastille Day, Jarre performed a large open-air concert at the Place De La Concorde. The free outdoor event drew more than 1 million spectators, setting a new world record for the largest number of spectators ever at an open-air concert, and was watched by a television audience of over 100 million people.
In 1981 Jean Michel Jarre issued the fifth album Magnetic Fields (alternative title Les chants magnétiques). The sounds used on the album are primarily based around the capabilities of the Fairlight CMI. Both Jarre and Peter Gabriel were among the first artists to take delivery of the Fairlight platform and make heavy use of it. Magnetic Fields Part 2 and Magnetic Fields Part 4 were released as singles.
Jarre was invited to become the first western musician to give concerts in China. The concerts took place from 18 October to 5 November 1982 and featured the Laser Harp for the first time, and since then it’s one of Jarre’s signature electronic instruments. Selections from these concerts were later released in 1982 as a double-disc LP entitled The Concerts In China and promoted by two singles: Orient Express and Souvenir of China.
On 5 July 1983 Jarre auctioned the only existing vinyl print of his newest album Music for Supermarkets. The music was created for a planned performance at the “Supermarché” art exhibition. The auction was held at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris, before he allowed Radio Luxembourg to broadcast the album in its entirety. The auction raised about 70,000 francs, and Jarre promised to burn the original tapes in the presence of a bailiff.
In 1984 Jarre released the experimental Zoolook. This album combines analogue synthesis with ethnic and vocal music, and makes heavy use of the sampling capabilities of the Fairlight CMI. Zoolook features samples of words and speech in different languages from around the globe, to create a diverse range of sounds and effects. A lengthy list of musicians including Adrian Belew, Marcus Miller, and Laurie Anderson made significant contributions to Zoolook. Two singles, Zoolook and Zoolookologie supported the album.
The next album issued was Rendez-vous in 1986. The creation of this album took place over a period of two months and as with Zoolook, contains elements of his 1983 album Music For Supermarkets. Baroque in style, Rendez-Vous uses a mixture of French horns, trombones and violins, and features heavy use of the Elka Synthex. Jarre worked with several Houston-based astronauts including Bruce McCandless II, and former Jazz musician Ronald McNair, who was to have played the saxophone on Last Rendez-Vous, recorded in the weightless environment of space. McNair was to have performed at the concert over a live link, but was killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on 28 January 1986. Following this disaster, the piece was recorded by Kirk Whalum and retitled “Ron’s Piece.” Fourth Rendez-Vous was released as a single and its music video featured a space theme.
In 1986 Jean Michel performed his biggest concert to date at Houston, USA, at the invitation of the musical director of the Houston Grand Opera in Texas and NASA. The concert entered the Guinness Book of Records for its audience of over 1.5 million people, beating his earlier record in 1979 and also featured large projections of photographic images and laser patterns onto the buildings of downtown Houston. The display was so impressive that passing vehicles blocked a nearby freeway, closing it for the duration of the concert. Ron’s Piece was performed by Kirk Whalum. Several months later about one million people watched him perform for a celebration of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Jarre’s home city of Lyon.
In 1988 Jarre released his ninth studio album, Revolutions. The album spans several genres, including symphonic industrial, Arabian inspired, light guitar pop, ethnic electro jazz, and features heavy use of the Roland D-50. Revolutions and London Kid were chosen as singles.
A two hour concert, titled Destination Docklands, was planned for 24 September 1988 at the Royal Victoria Docks in east London. Newham Borough Council, which ran the docks, expressed their fears about the safety of the event, and delayed their decision on whether to allow the concert to proceed until 12 September before eventually refusing the licence application. The local fire service were also concerned that in the event of a fire, they would be unable to gain access. Work continued on the site, and Jarre’s team looked at other locations around the UK, but following improvements to both on and off-site safety he eventually won conditional approval on 28 September to stage two separate performances from 8–9 October. Along with thousands in the surrounding streets and parks, 200,000 people watched Jarre perform with guests such as guitarist Hank Marvin from The Shadows. The performances were not without issues; inclement weather had threatened to break the stage from its moorings. The audience, which included Diana, Princess of Wales, was on the second evening soaked by rain and wind.
In 1990, inspired by the French oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Jeah-Michel Jarre released Waiting for Cousteau (alternative title En attendant Cousteau). This album contains four tracks, the last one being a 47 minutes long ambient piece. The single Calypso featured steel drums and it’s one of the brightest songs he ever recorded.
On Bastille Day 1990 Jarre performed a concert at La Défense in Paris, attended by a record-breaking estimated audience of about two million people, beating again his earlier world records. He later promoted a concert near the Pyramids of Teotihuacan in Mexico, to be held during the solar eclipse of 11 July 1991. The project stalled; several weeks before the day of the concert important equipment had not yet arrived, but the sinking of a cargo ship in the Atlantic ocean containing the purpose-built pyramidal stage and other technical equipment made the staging of the concert impossible.
In 1991, he issued a compilation, Images: The Best of Jean Michel Jarre, with some of his essential songs and three new tracks: Moon Machine, Eldorado, and Globe Trotter.
In 1993 Jarre released his first work to be largely influenced by the techno-music scene. Entitled Chronologie, the album was, from a technical standpoint, a revision to a concept employed by Jarre in his Oxygene/Equinoxe period, where a grandiose overture provides the emotional feel and sonic timbre for the rest of the following, more rhythmic pieces. The singles Chronologie Part 2, Chronologie Part 4, Chronologie Part 6 and Chronologie Part 8 helped the album sales.
Its release was followed by Jarre’s first large scale tour. A series of 16 performances across Europe, Europe In Concert occurred on a smaller scale than his previous concerts. Locations included Lausanne, Mont St. Michel, London, Manchester, Barcelona, Sevilla and the Versailles Palace. Jarre performed in Hong Kong on 11 March 1994, to mark the opening of the city’s new stadium, as a continuation of the tour and then in the same year he released a live album entitled Hong Kong. He also performed at the Concert for Tolerance on Bastille Day in 1995 in front of the Eiffel Tower where it celebrated the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. In the same year he released his first remix album, Jarremix.
In 1997, after years of experimenting with new technology, he returned to the analogue synthesisers of the 70s by releasing Oxygene 7–13, a direct follow-up to the original Oxygene. The album was dedicated to his mentor at the GRM, Pierre Schaeffer, who had died in 1995. Oxygene 8 and Oxygene 10 were released as singles.
On 6 September 1997, to celebrate the 850th anniversary of Moscow, he performed at Moscow State University for an audience of about 3.5 million, his fourth record for the largest ever outdoor concert audience. The funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, had taken place on the same day, and the composer dedicated Souvenir of China to her memory.
In 1998 Jarre wrote the theme Rendez-Vous ‘98 (feat. Apollo 440) for Coup Du Monde ‘98 France. In the same year, he released the second remix album, Odyssey Through O2, which consists of remixed versions by various artists of Oxygene 7-13 songs. On 31 December 1999 Jarre held a three-hour music and light show in the Egyptian desert near the Pyramids from Giza. The Twelve Dreams of the Sun celebrated the new millennium and offered a preview of his next album, Metamorphoses.
In 2000 Jarre released Metamorphoses, his first vocal album, mixed on an early version of Pro Tools. The compositions and their arrangement on this techno-based album co-produced with Joachim Garraud marked a departure from his previous style. Sound effects used include radio interference from mobile phones (used on the track Tout est Bleu), and Macintalk, a Macintosh program used to generate lyrics on the track Love, love, love. Laurie Anderson makes her second guest appearance in the Jarre discography on Je Me Souviens. Other contributors include Natacha Atlas on C’est La Vie and Sharon Corr from The Corrs on Rendez-Vous à Paris.
On 1 January 2001 Jean Michel Jarre and Tetsuya “TK” Komuro performed exclusive new material in Okinawa under the title of Rendez-vous In Space, a tribute to the science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke. The opening sequence of the concert was based on the theme from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. He used recordings of Clarke (filmed before the concert) to introduce each piece of music. Later that year, Jarre gave a charity concert for the Elpida Foundation at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.
In 2001 he composed a non-comercial album Interior Music, a demonstration piece for Bang and Olufsen. On 6 September 2002 Jarre performed a concert at a windfarm near Gammel Vrå Enge, outside Aalborg in Denmark. In the same year he released Sessions 2000, a set of more experimental synth-jazz pieces that were stylistically distinct from anything Jarre had previously released.
2003 saw the release of Geometry of Love. The album was commissioned by Jean Roch, as a soundtrack for his ‘V.I.P. Room’ nightclub in France, and contains a mix of chill out music and touches of his more traditional style. On 10 October 2004, he returned to China for two performances, one in the Forbidden City at the Meridian Gate, and another one in concert in Tiananmen Square. Both were designed to open China’s “Year of France” cultural exchange. A combined DVD/CD of these concerts, Jarre in China was released in 2005.
In 2004, Jarre released Aero, both a DVD and a CD in one package. Purportedly the world’s first album released for 5.1 systems, with it being fully “constructed” in 5.1 surround sound, it contains re-recorded versions of some of his most famous tracks. Accompanying the audio, the DVD features a visual image of Anne Parillaud’s eyes, recorded in real time as she listened to the album.
On 16 December 2006, Jarre performed a concert named Water for Life in Morocco, to celebrate the year of desertification in the world. The performance was in front of the Erg Chebbi Dunes of Merzouga, in the Sahara and it was attended by about 25,000 people.
Jarre released Teo & Tea on 26 March 2007. He described the two computer-generated characters in the video clip of the title track as being “like twins”, one female, one male. The album is supposed to describe the different stages of a loving relationship, and explores the idea that the length of such relationships is unpredictable. Its release demonstrated a move away from virtual instruments and computers that Jarre had been using up to that point; he instead chose to use a simplified range of devices, including several new prototype instruments.
In August 2007 Jarre signed for EMI France and released an anniversary package containing a special live recording of his classic work Oxygene, in 3D DVD, live CD and normal 2D DVD formats in November 2007, named Oxygene: Live In Your Living Room. The album was recorded live, without tape or hard disk playback, with help from Francis Rimbert, Claude Samard, Dominique Perrier and contains three extra tracks not found on either the original or remake. He also issued Oxygene (New Master Recording), a remastered version of the classic Oxygene.
Jarre performed 10 concerts (Oxygene Tour) in Paris at Théâtre Marigny, from 12–26 December 2007. Later in 2008 Jarre performed several concerts to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Oxygene, in theatres in Europe. In 2009 Jarre was selected as the artistic director of the World Sky Race, and also accepted a role as Goodwill Ambassador for the International Year of Astronomy. He started an indoor tour in arenas throughout Europe in the same year.
On 1 March 2010, Jean Michel Jarre started the second leg of his 2009–2010 indoors tour entitled “2010.”
Edited by portenkirchner on 11 Apr 2013, 09:46
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