Jazz in winter – Philippe Castermane

Philéas Fogg Trio is born from the desire of its three members to combine a love for the classic jazz repertoire with European romanticism. The values of the romantic movements are explored through the light of the great Jazz standards, highlighting passion and melancholy as the source of an authentic aesthetic experience.

We asked Philippe Castermane drummer for Philéas Fogg Trio a few questions in the lead up to his performance, Reflections in Duke with his trio Saturday July 7 at 12.30-2.30pm at Ballarat Mechanics Institute.

JAZZ series Q. What does jazz mean to you?

Philippe Castermane A. “A certain creative process of spontaneity” to quote Bill Evans. Jazz is about making 1 minute of music in 1 minute time. It is about the present. It is now.

JAZZ series Q. What jazz musician inspires you?

Philippe Castermane A. The list is long. I would be tempted to say all but I guess I have to come up with a short list! Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Michael Brecker, Dave Holland, John Coltrane, Hank Jones, Elvin Jones…

JAZZ series Q. Whats your favourite thing about winter?

Philippe Castermane A. The snow. There’s an obvious lack of it here in Melbourne! I was born in Switzerland and grew up in the French Alps. Other than being stuck in a traffic jam because of it, I like everything: the sounds, the colours, the smell, the memories…

JAZZ series Q. Whats the best thing about live Jazz performances?

Philippe Castermane A. From an audience point of view, I’d say the excitement to witness music being created in front of us, in this particular moment, never to be repeated. Jazz is unique by definition. From a performance point of view, the excitement to create music in this particular moment, never to be repeated! It is exciting and daunting at the same time. It has a kind of transcendence attached to it. Music, not just jazz, is about expressing what we can’t express with words. Jazz is about doing it in the present with limited quality control or editing available: you have to accept that what you said is what you said and you won’t be able to say it again, in the same way. It is a statement.

JAZZ series Q. What live music performance made an impression on you and your group and why?

Philippe Castermane A. Recently, it was Mike Stern and Dave Weckl at Bird’s Basement. Each musician was in total control of their instruments. They achieved great clarity in the way they developed their musical ideas. The dynamics, the contrast… I know our bass player Daniel almost had an epiphany watching Christian McBride who recently performed at the JazzLab for the Melbourne Jazz Festival. There is something beautiful to witness musicians that have reached such a level of mastery on their instruments and who are able to express beautiful music with clarity and purpose.

JAZZ series Q. How long have you been performing as Philéas Fogg Trio?

Philippe Castermane A. Philéas Fogg Trio started as a project about two years ago. We’ve been active on the Melbourne scene for a little bit more than a year. We started with a programme celebrating the music of Thelonious Monk “Monk Reloaded”. On the 7th of July in Ballarat, we’ll be performing a new set, honouring the music of Duke Ellington.

More information can be found on and

Philéas Fogg Trio will be performing Reflections in Duke at Ballarat Mechanics Institute, Saturday July 7 as a part of the Ballarat Winter Festival.