Influenced by musicians as diverse as Django Reinhardt and Cecil Taylor, French guitarist Raymond Boni has developed a unique and dazzling style derived from gypsy technique. After studying the piano and switching to the harmonica, Raymond Boni learned how to play the guitar with Gypsies living near his home. This empirical experience would leave a permanent imprint on Boni's approach to the instrument. In the early '60s, still a teenager, he decided to go study in London. Surrounded by a very diverse and creative musical environment, Boni decided to get serious about the guitar and to break from the musical framework of musical academia. Back in France, he settled in Paris where he was among the first French musicians to embrace free jazz and free improvisation. His first major collaboration was a long-lived duo he formed with guitarist Gérard Marais in 1973. In 1976, he joined the André Jaume/Gérard Siracusa duo and worked with saxophonist Claude Bernard. The latter was also responsible for allowing Boni to fulfill his ambition to compose for and perform with dancers.
In 1978, he started a long relationship with Joe McPhee, which produced some stellar albums such as Old Eyes & Mysteries and Oleo & a Future Retrospective and a tour in the U.S. and Canada (1985). In 1981, Boni moved to Marseille where he was not able to perform as often as in Paris. As an alternative, he focused on writing and diversified his projects. In 1982, he met dancer and choreographer Geneviève Sorin and started to compose music for her company. Raymond Boni also continued to foster some old partnerships while developing new ones with accomplished artists such as Les Mistrals with British improvisers Terry Day and Max Eastley. In the '90s, the guitarist worked extensively with musicians from younger generations, most notably Claude Tchamitchian and Eric Echampard. Boni also multiplied collaborations with artists having a background other than jazz but a bent for improvisation. Another worthy project is Boni's Family with Sorin and son Bastien Boni, which honors his Gypsy legacy and capitalizes on his talented household. In 2001, Boni reunited with McPhee for an album, Voices & Dreams, and several concerts in the U.S. and Europe. ~ Alain Drouot, Rovi