Marc Antoine (musician)
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|Born||28 May 1963
Marc Antoine was born in Paris, France on 28 May 1963. His parents bought him his first guitar when he was 11 years old and he developed a passion for the instrument after watching a friend play. By the age of 13, his father was impressed by his growing skill and sent Antoine to Conservatoire de Paris where he would receive classical lessons. While learning his craft, he drew inspiration from his mentors Andrés Segovia and John Williams. Antoine came to a crossroads at the age of 17 at which he had to choose between his hobby of guitar and his profession of competitive swimming. As he'd won several awards through his guitar performances, he chose to remain a guitarist and expand his influences to include local favorites in jazz, rock, Afro, and pop. Marc also played in local bands in Brittany, France during this time.
Injury and recovery
In the summer of 1981 at the age of 18, his debut was sidelined by an accidental injury to his left hand. While playing with the family dog, Marc unintentionally crashed through a glass door. The surgeon who removed the shards of glass from his hand told him that his chances of playing guitar again were slim to none. Marc's passion for the guitar drove him through a rigorous rehabilitation process for the next three years and in 1984 he was back on the scene in Paris, performing in clubs and recording for artists such as Philippe Petit, Charlelie Couture, Jill Kaplan, France Gall, and Ray Lema. Marc also revisited his surgeon in 1984 and played a piece for him to demonstrate his full recovery.
Relocation and building a résumé
In 1988, a 25-year-old Marc moved to London where he joined Basia as part of her recording band and worked with other London-based acts such as The Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra, Soul II Soul, Pato Banton, and General Public. Marc also found the time to take part in the budding London Acid Jazz scene. Shortly after, he decided to tour the world for inspiration which led him to spend time in Tokyo where he became an acclaimed session player.
Marc relocated, this time to Los Angeles in the late 1990s. During his 12-year stay, he played backing guitar for marquee artists such as Sting, Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, Cher, Selena, Queen Latifah, George Benson, Guru's Jazzmatazz project, Take 6, and others. He composed and performed individual songs for six major movie soundtracks: Get Shorty, The Fan, Patch Adams, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Demolition Man, and Celtic Pride. Marc worked with renowned producers Tommy LiPuma, Philippe Saisse, Marcus Miller, Mike Pela, Guy Roche and Stoker during this stint.
While in Los Angeles, Marc began his solo career with his first album Classical Soul on NYC/GRP records in 1994. The album was strongly influenced by American pop and hip-hop. Utilizing nylon strings on his acoustic guitar, Marc also injected flamenco style into much of the album's work. The album enjoyed success in the American contemporary jazz market bolstered by the radio hit, "Unity."
In 1995 came Urban Gypsy, the second of his two self-produced solo albums. Urban Gypsy took only two months to write, record, and produce. Marc's objective for the album was to make the melodies more accessible to new listeners. The album ended up spawning two singles for radio: "Latin Quarter" and "Sand Castle."
Madrid saw release in 1998 on GRP records co-produced by smooth jazz mainstay Rick Braun. Despite lukewarm reviews from critics, Madrid managed to produce two radio play singles: "Sunland" and the title track. Both are still in rotation on several smooth jazz stations.
Universal Language in 2000 saw Marc draw inspiration from African, Celtic and European Drum and Bass music. To record his most ambitious record to date, he brought in session musicians and friends from his career travels around the world to give the record an international flavor. The album was produced by Philippe Saisse.
Marc's biggest hit, Cruisin' was his final release on GRP and came in 2001. Featuring a cover of Sérgio Mendes' hit Mas Que Nada, Cruisin' enjoyed success on the strength of radio hits "On The Strip" and "Cruisin'."
Mediterranéo was released in 2003 on Rendezvous Entertainment featuring strong Latin influence on the majority of the record. The album was well received by critics, hatching two radio singles with the title track and "Cubanova." The album also featured a cover of Everything But The Girl's "Lady."
Taking a cue from his jazz idol Miles Davis, Marc set out to find new directions for contemporary jazz. In doing so, he released Modern Times in 2005. For this record, he sought out electronic musician David Ferrero to bring a club feel to his performances adding that he appreciates Ferrero's ability to work Marc's classically trained guitar playing into an accessible sound. The album has one radio single, "Bella Via," and features Marc's first vocal performance on the French-language Sting cover "La Belle Dame Sans Regrets."
Hi-Lo Split, was released on Peak Records in 2007. The album features a cover of R&B and jazz classic "Spooky" as well as solos with a Mexican requinto guitar and a steel-string guitar. The album has one radio single, "For A Smile."
My Classical Way was released on 21 September 2010 on Marc's own label, Frazzy Frog Music. The first single, "Dreamer," features performances by keyboardist Philippe Saisse, and vocalists Jasmine Roy and Rebeca Vega.
A compilation titled The Very Best of Marc Antoine was released in 2003 featuring his most well-known songs.
Accolades and collaborations
Marc's career boasts many No. 1 hits on the R&R contemporary jazz charts, as well as topping the Billboard charts. In 1995, R&R elected him Best New Artist of The Year, which was followed by his Gavin Award in 1998. He has also received numerous nominations for jazz awards in the US and Canada.
Regularly touring with contemporary jazz artists like Dave Koz, Chris Botti, Jeff Lorber, Jeffrey Osborne, David Benoit, Larry Carlton and others, he also performs or records with jazz legends such as Peter Erskine, Jimmy Haslip, Mike Mainieri, Dave Valentin, Christian McBride, and Mark Egan. Marc was honored when George Benson mentioned him as one of his favorite guitarists.
- Classical Soul (1994, reissued 1998)
- Urban Gypsy (1995, reissued 1998)
- Madrid (1998)
- Universal Language (2000)
- Cruisin' (2001)
- Mediterranéo (2003)
- Modern Times (2005)
- Hi-Lo Split (2007)
- My Classical Way (2010)
- Guitar Destiny (2012)
- The Very Best of Marc Antoine (2003)
- Foreign Xchange (with Paul Brown) (2009)
- Official Biography
- Smooth Jazz Now interview
- Jazz Review.com interview
- SmoothViews interview
- Digital Interviews interview