Remembering French Jazz Violinist Didier Lockwood (1956-2018)

February 22, 2018, 1:07 PM · The world is remembering and celebrating the life of French jazz violinist Didier Lockwood, who died suddenly on Sunday, a day after he performed at the jazz club Bal Blomet in Paris and less than a week after celebrating his 62nd birthday on Feb. 11.

Here is Lockwood, just last summer, performing with characteristic dynamism, as guest on the Hans Zimmer Live On Tour 2017:

Among the Twitter eulogies:

  • "France has lost an exceptional musician, a man of rare qualities. We'll miss him immensely," wrote violinist Renaud Capucon.
  • "We will miss his radiance, his openness and his immense musical talent," wrote French President Emmanuel Macron.
  • "Deep sadness to learn of the death of Didier Lockwood, a huge French jazz violinist, who has continually explored new musical horizons, and has invested passionately in the promotion of artistic and cultural education." wrote French Minister of Culture Francoise Nyssen.

Born in Calaise, France, in 1956, Lockwood first studied violin with his father, getting in his classical violin studies at a young age at Calais Conservatoire. His attention turned to jazz early on, when he started learning jazz from his older brother Francis, a jazz pianist.

At age 17 he started playing in the the French rock band Magma, a group he played with from 1974 to 1980. At age 20 he met Stephane Grappelli, who embraced him as a new voice in French jazz and invited him to tour with him. He went on to collaborate with artists all over the musical and geographical map, among them Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Claude Nougaro, Barbara and Jacques Higelin. Gordon Beck, Martial Solal and Michel Petrucciani.

Didier Lockwood
Didier Lockwood.

In 2001 Lockwood founded the Didier Lockwood Music Centre in Dammarie-Lès-lys near Paris, a school devoted to the advanced study of jazz and improvised music. He also wrote a jazz violin method called Cordes et Ames,

Lockwood is survived by his wife, French soprano Patricia Petibon, and three daughters.

On his website are a number of wonderful quotes from Lockwood, among them:

"Avec le violon, c’est une histoire d’amour à la vie à la mort. Je crois le connaître, mais il me surprend toujours. Il ne faut jamais avoir l’impression de le dominer. On n’est jamais meilleur que dans le lâcher prise, quand on laisse faire l’inconscient et qu’on improvise en pensant à tout autre chose."


"With the violin, it's a love story from life to death. I think I know (the violin), but it always surprises me. You must never try to dominate it. It goes best one one lets go, allowing the unconscious to take over and improvising while thinking of everything else."

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February 22, 2018 at 11:38 PM · Lockwood's death is a huge loss. Wow, I can't believe it. He was my favorite jazz violinist.

I associate Lockwood more with Jean-Luc Ponty than I do with Grappelli, stylistically and generationally.

On the other hand, Lockwood recorded two tribute albums to Grappelli, and those are truly excellent recordings.

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