Dear Denis Le Bas,

In the early 1980s, the idea of creating a new festival emerged
jazz in Lower Normandy, in the south of the Channel, under the leadership of
Gérard Houssin, then director of the Municipal Theatre of Coutances,
with the complicity and all the energy of Denise and Thierry Giard. Thirty years
later, a modest festival that debuted with 4,000 admissions is
has become, with more than 32,000 tickets sold, an appointment within reach
more than confirmed. "Jazz under the apple trees" has become
a major European festival, where the biggest names of the
world of jazz, at the service of excellence and openness. This adventure,
dear Denis Le Bas, you have contributed greatly to giving him his soul,
as director of the festival’s programming at its beginnings, then at the
head of the festival, for 26 years already. So it was natural for you
pay tribute on this anniversary.
Born in Villedieu-les-Poêles - nearby -, graduate of the IUT of Tours,
your first professional steps lead you to social action,
as a facilitator in a young workers' home in Cherbourg. The
amateur drummer you are inspired very early, among references
of the immense Art Blakey - that you will make yourself a
invite to the Festival a few years later. You join by
the team of the Municipal Theatre of Coutances as stage manager and
animator, and you get involved very quickly in the adventure of this young
For 26 years, you have shown that the pleasures and challenges of
programming have no secrets for you. Organizing a festival is
always find compromises, fill in boxes, confront the
puzzle of artists' availabilities, satisfying its audiences while
opening to discoveries. A work of titan and goldsmith, which is sometimes played
pen on a coffee table or on a spreadsheet.
When it comes to sorting out proposals, channelling the
heart, to go in search of rare pearls, to manage also the whims of
stars, you always knew how to keep the sense of balance, between the crazy
parade and rare concerts, exclusive performances at the after. Your
has also enabled you to benefit from the support of
Coutances Municipal Theatre team and the commitment of
hundreds of passionate volunteers.
Because with Jazz under the apple trees, we never repeat ourselves. Your
programming has always maintained and multiplied the bridges between the
world of jazz and what you call, of a very beautiful expression, the
“cousin music” - from chamber music to electro and
world music. This year again, French is Eddy Louiss
and its multicolored band cross Paulo Fresu who tries the crossing with
the Corsican song of A Filetta. These are Laurent de Wilde alongside Jacques
Gamblin, the quartet of Stéphane Belmondo, Michel Portal, the piano of
Joachim Kühn, the Barbatucs of Brazil, André’s Occitan voice
Minvielle, the drums of Aldo Romano, Ron Carter, the Super Rail Band of
Bamako, the voice of Jamie Cullum, the warmth and virtuosity of the
trio Rosenberg. From the intimate to the large formats, your cocktails are
always impressive, and you know how to play with wonder on the
moments of anthologies and ephemeral magic, which give all its
meaning to the notion of “live performance”.
Then there is the territorial commitment of the Festival. You have worked to
anchor “Jazz under the apple trees” in his region, dedicating a
important place to amateur practices, creating collaborations
with institutions like this year’s Collège de Saint-Hilaire-
Du-Harcouët, or with the participation of
Manche. Hospitals and the detention centre are also involved - we
find here your socio-cultural animator. You offer «Jazz
for audiences”, as you put it, and you manage to
touch both the neophyte and the specialist, avoiding the pitfalls of
the esotericism to which a certain conception of jazz can sometimes lend itself.
All in a Festival become «green», with its carpooling system,
recycling campaigns – essential aspects for a
city in celebration of 11.000 inhabitants, whose population quintuples during one
At the head of the Festival, you also proved your talent for
partnerships: press, radio, television as France 3
Normandy who is a very faithful partner of the event, the patrons
institutional interlocutors - the General Council, the
city of Coutances, the Regional Council, the State through its Regional Directorate
of cultural affairs.
I take this opportunity to announce the renewal
of the Municipal Theatre for 3 years, for a
fourth consecutive period.
The journalists have brought you a very valuable recognition in
an area where reputation and interpersonal contacts are
essential ingredients for success. A success also for
Coutances, whose name now also shines through jazz.
Paying tribute to you today is a tribute to a commitment
exceptional, yours and that of all those who work alongside you,
thanks to which you gave «Jazz sous les pommiers» a line and
Dear Denis Le Bas, in the name of the
French Republic, we make you a Knight in the Order of Arts
and Letters.