Singer Marcel Zanini, a major figure in French jazz and a performer of many styles, best known for his hit Tu veux ou tu veux pas, died on Wednesday at the age of 99 in a hospital in his native Paris, his son Marc-Edouard Nabe (pseudonym Alain Zannini) told AFP.
Jazz in Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Marcel Zanini, born Zannini in Istanbul on September 7, 1923, was the son of an Italian-French father and a Greek mother from Asia Minor, who had left Turkey for Marseille in 1930.
When the time came for him to arrive in France in the early 1960s, he resigned from school and took on various odd jobs as a machine operator, carpenter, errand boy and so on. One day, he came across an advertisement for a film showing Benny Goodman playing the clarinet. He decides to watch the film and becomes completely captivated by it. He was 19 and had also started playing the clarinet.
The first time I blew on it, I played a note. It might have been wrong, but it was jazz,Marcel Zanin and his famous sense of humor
After the war, he joined Leo Missir’s band, and later became Barclay’s artistic director.
He was swept up in the explosion of jazz in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Paris. “Jazz is my whole life. It’s an obsession, a disease. Jazz is more exciting than falling in love,” he told AFP in 2005. Clarinetist and tenor saxophonist He even moved to New York for four years in the 1950s to be close to famous musicians and frequent jazz clubs. During his stay in the USA, where he wrote for the specialist magazine Jazz Hot, he met Louis Armstrong, Lester Young, Billie Holiday and the one who impressed him most was “Bird”. “Seeing Charlie Parker play was one of the greatest experiences of my entire life,” he declared. ” From the very first note, he hit you right in the middle of the stomach.”
“You either like it, or you don’t.”
However, more than the well-known jazzman, the public retains the image of Marcel Zanini this facetious little man with the look of Tati or Benny Hill, who burst onto radio and television in the late 60s with a tune adapted from a Brazilian title by Wilson Simonal, Nem vem que nao tem which was recorded in just 15 minutes…. “You want it or you don’t want it If you want it, it’s okay / If you don’t want it, it’s no problem / If you’re not interested, don’t make it a disease, “ he hums in front of an outfit of black waders.
This song, which is simple beyond description, had been rejected by several artists, including Eddy Mitchell. Yet it was to become a huge hit. It was sung by everyone, including Brigitte Bardot, who covered it the following year.
With 160,000 records sold in record time, it didn’t bring him business success, but enormous fame.
And, in the end, strangely enough, it put me on the map as a jazz musician“.Marcel Zanini
For decades after the success of “Tu veux ou tu veux pas”, he continued to produce numerous jazz albums. The jazz artist alternated between covers and original compositions. He would sometimes perform in jazz clubs, accompanied on guitar by his son Marc-Edouard Nabe, a sulphurous writer exiled in Switzerland:
I’ve never given up on jazz. Every day, I listen to it and play it.