Didier Malherbe

Didier Malherbe[1] (born January 22, 1943 in Paris), is a French jazz, rock and world music musician, known as a member of the bands Gong and Hadouk, as well as a poet.

Didier Malherbe
Didier Malherbe.jpg
Background information
Also known asBloomdido Bad de Grass
Born (1943-01-22) 22 January 1943 (age 77)
Paris, France
GenresProgressive rock, Psychedelic rock, Jazz, Jazz fusion, world music
Occupation(s)saxophonist, flutist
Instrumentsflute, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, duduk, hulusi, keyboards
Years active1960–present
Associated actsGong, Hadouk

His first instrument was a saxophone, but he also plays flutes, alto clarinet, ocarina, Laotian Khen, Bawu flute, Hulusi and many other wind instruments. Since 1995, duduk has been his preferred instrument.

Before Gong (1960-69)Edit

Didier Malherbe began playing saxophone at age 13 after hearing Charlie Parker's "Bloomdido", a title he later would adopt as his nickname. After two years of formal training on saxophone he began to participate in jam sessions at various Paris jazz clubs alongside the likes of Alby Cullaz, Eddy Louiss, Jacques Thollot ... He then moved away from jazz. "I had grown puzzled about bebop because of so many rules. Then free jazz arrived, which got rid of all the rules... I decided I'd rather look elsewhere".[2]

In 1962, after hearing the first Ravi Shankar album, he travelled to India, where he discovered bamboo flute and learned to play bansuri, Indian bamboo flute.[3] Back in Paris, he took classical flute lessons, while studying ancient languages at the Sorbonne university. In 1964-65, he travelled around Morocco, staying in a community in Tangier, playing with other hippie musicians such as guitarist Davey Graham[4] and absorbing elements of Arabic music.

In 1966, he appeared on the soundtrack for the movie Chappaqua, credited to Ravi Shankar, and dabbled with rock music for the first time, electrifying his sax when he appeared, as part of a band called Les Rollsticks, in Marc'O's successful comedy-rock Les Idoles. This was such a hit that it was made into a feature film in 1968.

In the summer of 1968, Malherbe left for Majorca, in the Balearic Islands, where he found shelter in the property of writer Robert Graves. There he worked on improving his flute playing, and spent time with Kevin Ayers and Daevid Allen, two former members of Soft Machine, whose performance at the Fenêtre Rose festival in late 1967 he later called "a triggering event."[5]

In 1969, back in Paris, he joined a raga-blues-folk trio, Morning Calm, and played free jazz with American pianist Burton Greene, appearing on his album recorded for the BYG label. The same label released Magick Brother (1969), the first Gong album, on which Malherbe appeared alongside musicians of various backgrounds, whether pop or jazz.

The Gong Years (1969-77)Edit

Gong became a real band for an appearance at the Amougies festival in October 1969. Malherbe received the stage name Bloomdido Bad De Grasse from Daevid Allen, a combination of the title of the Charlie Parker standard and a rough English translation of his surname.

The albums Camembert Electrique (1971) and Continental Circus (1972, soundtrack for Jérôme Laperrousaz's movie of the same name) made Gong, along with Magma and others, a key player on the French underground scene of the early 1970s, pioneering the MJC (youth clubs) circuit. Allen's faithful right-hand man, Bloomdido stoically survived the band's countless line-up changes, even staying on after Allen himself quit in 1975 following the Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy, released by the then-fledgling Virgin label : Flying Teapot and Angel's Egg (1973), then You (1974). Malherbe achieved a unique sound by electrifying his instrument, and brought to the band many melodic ideas, "which I freely gave away, in a communal spirit. That's one of the features of my character and my music : I am a spontaneous guy, an improviser."[6]

Following the departures in 1975 of Allen then Steve Hillage, Gong moved to a more jazz-fusion style, influenced by Weather Report, with Malherbe adding a world-music flavour, as exemplified by "Bambooji" on the Shamal (1976) album, an early pointer to his later work as a solo artist. A final line-up with a percussion section and Allan Holdsworth on guitar recorded Gazeuse! (1977).

"He has always been, and remains, the best musician Gong ever had. He is a true virtuoso - but to the point that he never shows it" - Daevid Allen (1977)[6]

Bloom (1977-81) and Faton Bloom (1982-87)Edit

In 1977, Didier Malherbe formed the band Bloom playing "jazz-rock, but performed in a personal way, with odd time signatures, some funky ideas and crazy lyrics,".[7] They recorded an eponymous album in 1978, the band regularly toured France. In 1981, it was replaced by smaller line-ups, Duo du Bas with Yan Emeric Vagh, and Duo Ad lib with Jean-Philippe Rykiel.

In 1978, Didier played on 3 songs on Gilli Smyth's Charly Records release "Mother," also appearing on her "Fairy Tales" LP under the band name "Mother Gong," featuring guitarist Harry Williamson, after Smyth's breakup with 'Gong' founder, and Didier's longtime friend and collaborator, Daevid Allen (now dearly departed after a bout with cancer).

In 1980, Didier recorded perhaps his first solo album, "Bloom," with a jazz-fusion sound common to that era, but with distinctly French vocals and artsy oddities.

In 1982, Malherbe began a partnership with Faton Cahen, former pianist with Magma and Zao, which they logically called Faton-Bloom. The band was completed by Rémy Sarrazin (bass), Éric Bedoucha (drums) and Roger Raspail. An eponymous album appeared in 1986, accompanied by copious touring.

During that period he also worked with singer Jacques Higelin, on stage (the live album Casino de Paris in 1984) and in the studio (the album Ai in 1985). He also played on the first album by Equip'Out, a band led by ex-Gong drummer Pip Pyle, and joined Daevid Allen in a new line-up of Gong, which resulted in the album Shapeshifter (1992).

Solo / Duo (1990-98)Edit

In 1990, Didier Malherbe released his first true solo album, Fetish, surrounded by a cast of thousands. He later called the album "very scattered."[7] He notably experimented with the wind synthesizer Yamaha WX7.

He then signed with the Tangram label, releasing Zeff in 1992, which was a major critical and commercial success. The unique sound of the Zeff, a harmonic bent PVC pipe, also graced Vangelis' soundtrack for Ridley Scott's movie 1492: Christopher Columbus, and was featured on public TV channel France 3.

This was followed by Fluvius (1994), with a quartet including Loy Ehrlich, Henri Agnel and Shyamal Maïtra. In 1996, birth of "Hadouk" with Loy Ehrlich, so named in reference to their respective instruments of choice, guembri Hajouj (bass of the Gnawas of Morocco) and duduk (Doudouk,double-reed Armenian oboe).

Also during the 1990s, Malherbe kept touring with Classic Gong, in both Europe and the USA. He finally left the band in 1999, but continued to appear occasionally as a guest-star, both on stage Subterranea DVD and on records Zero To Infinity and 2032. He also toured and recorded with Brigitte Fontaine Cd Palaces and with acoustic guitarist Pierre Bensusan Live at the New Morning CD in 1997.

Hadouk Trio (1999-2012)Edit

In 1999, the Malherbe/Ehrlich duo was joined by American percussionist Steve Shehan and released the album Shamanimal as Hadouk Trio. Helped by excellent critical reception, the trio appeared at major festivals such as Nancy Jazz Pulsations. In 2001 his mastery of the duduk also led for an invitation by Djivan Gasparyan to appear at the international duduk festival in Armenia, then in Moscow and St Petersburg.

That same year, he published a book of sonnets on reeds, L'Anche des Métamorphoses, which he later turned into a solo show, mixing poetry reading and musical interludes.

In 2003 the second Hadouk Trio CD, Now, saw the light of day. The trio appeared at the San Sebastián festival, at Jazz Sous Les Pommiers, and released two live documents, the double CD Live à FIP (2004) and the DVD Live au Satellit Café (2005), which began a long-term partnership with (Naïve Records)

The release of the trio's third studio CD Utopies (2006) coincided with an appearance at the Gong Unconvention in Amsterdam, a festival which peaked with the reunion of Gong's 1970s line-up. Two concerts at Paris' Cabaret Sauvage in May 2007 were documented on the live CD/DVD Baldamore. A few days later, Hadouk Trio received the "year's best band" award at the Victoires du Jazz ceremony.

The trio's final release, Air Hadouk, came out in 2010. It was followed by tours in Great Britain and India, and an appearance at the Paris Jazz Festival. In 2013, Naive reissued the first 4 Hadouk Trio CDs as a box set, which coincided with a concert at the legendary Salle Gaveau on 2 February.

In 2010 he formed a duo with guitarist Éric Löhrer, releasing the double-CD Nuit d'Ombrelle the following year, which mixed jazz standards on duduk and improvisations, arranged as a continuous suite.

Since 2012 he has been playing with classical pianist Jean-François Zygel, appearing on his TV programme La Boîte à Musique [fr] on France 2 and performing live as a trio with percussionist Joël Grare under the title A World Tour In 80 Minutes.

Hadouk Quartet (2013-2020)Edit

In May 2013, Malherbe and Loy Ehrlich opened a new chapter in the Hadouk saga on the occasion of a residency at the club Le Triton, this time in quartet with Éric Löhrer on guitar and Jean-Luc Di Fraya on percussion and vocals. The quartet released their début CD, Hadoukly Yours on the Naïve Records. He added two Chinese wind instruments: Bawu and Hulusi. March 2017, release of a new CD "Le Cinquieme Fruit" on Naïve label.

February 2018, publication of a second book of sonnets "Escapade en Facilie" publisher Le Castor Astral.

October 2018 concerts in Taiwan " Round about Duduk " for the festival ASIA-PACIFIC traditional Art.


With GongEdit

Solo and duo albumsEdit

  • 1980: Bloom (EMI-Sonopresse, reissued by Voiceprint)
  • 1986: Faton Bloom (with Faton Cahen) (Cryonic, reissued by Mantra)
  • 1987: Saxo Folies (with Armand Frydman) (Koka Media)
  • 1990: Fetish (Mantra)
  • 1992: Zeff (Tangram)
  • 1994: Fluvius (Tangram)
  • 1995: Hadouk (with Loy Ehrlich) (Tangram)
  • 1997: Live at New Morning (with Pierre Bensusan) (Acoustic Music)
  • 2003: Windprints / L'Empreinte du Vent (Cezame)
  • 2008: Carnets d'Asie et d'Ailleurs (with Loy Ehrlich) (Vox Terrae)
  • 2011: Nuit d'Ombrelle with Éric Löhrer (Naïve Records)

With Hadouk Trio (Didier Malherbe / Loy Ehrlich / Steve Shehan)Edit

With Hadouk Quartet (Didier Malherbe / Loy Ehrlich / Eric Löhrer / Jean-Luc Di Faya)Edit

Other appearancesEdit



  1. ^ Also known as "Bloomdido" or "Bloomdido bad de Grass".
  2. ^ Allan Jones, "The Gong method of sax life in rock", Melody Maker (25 September 1976), p. 33.
  3. ^ Interview with Stéphane Fougère, Tangentes n°3, March 1995 & Michel Bourre, "Le Souffleur", Rock & Folk (April 1976), p.86-9 & 139-42.
  4. ^ Michel Bourre, "Le Souffleur", Rock & Folk (April 1976), p.86-9 & 139-42.
  5. ^ B. Filip, "Clonage en cours", Blah-Blah, (1992)
  6. ^ a b Michel Lousquet, "Pour qui sonne le Gong ?", Best, December 1977, p.60-63.
  7. ^ a b Entretien avec Stéphane Fougère, Tangentes n°3, March 1995.

External linksEdit