On Thursday, March 4th 2021, we commemorated the 5th anniversary of the death of Eric Devallon (1964-2016). Alberto Mielgo, a basque saxophonist, old student of Eric Devallon at Musikene (Donostia, Basque Cuntry, Spain), organized a tribute in which several saxophonists played a Mielgo’s arrangement of “Amorosa”, one of the “Ten Basque Melodies” for orchestra by Jesús Guridi.
Watch the video here:
Eric Devallon was one of those people who leave a deep mark at a both a personal and a musical level. We can see his influence not only in the amount of participants (a total of 49 saxophone players, who would surely be much more else) but also a great amount of colleagues and other saxophonists who followed his career as the baritonist of Diastema saxophone quartet and lots of students at music conservatoires as Musikene and CRR Bayonne (France) and courses around France and Spain.
First time I listened to Diastema saxophone quartet, at XI World Saxophone Congress in Valencia (Spain) in September 1997, I was impressed by the homogeneity of that quartet in terms of sonority and interpretation. Next, in Summer 1998, in a summer saxophone course with Christophe Bois in Amposta (Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain), I discovered two albums that were a revelation to me: “Saxophone Classics” (enjoy his playing in the wonderful 2nd movement of Beethoven’s quintet) and “French Saxophone Quartets” (his interpretation of the beginning of Pierné and Desenclos 2nd are simply top). In addition to reach “the perfection” in a saxophone quartet, the sound of Devallon was deeply engraved on my mind: its richness and homogeneity, the breadth of his treble and the density of his low registers, that precision of articulations and specially his performing energy. Thanks to him, I learnt for good the role of the baritone in a saxophone quartet.
Later, I had the chance to approach to Eric at the Rencontres Internationales autour du Saxophone Baryton held in Ambazac (France) between 2008 and 2011. From 2010, taking part of the organization of these events was a great gift for me, not only for the good moments we shared but also I because knew his most humane side: his great sense of humor, his very strong character and his sense of loyalty.
I always think of Eric every time I play “Trois Rêves en Musique”, a breathtaking work for baritone saxophone solo that José Luis Campana composed for him and who never was able to premiere due to his serious illness.
Merci beaucoup par tout, Eric. Ça a été un plaisir!