Jean Labre (photos M. Vicent-Roubert)All the Harmonicas
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Who is Jean Labre?

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To get acquainted to him, let's go back in time. Everything is beginning in the end of the forties, in an harmonica club called " Charm ", founded by Albert RAISNER. Jean is often there with his first trio " Les Vagabonds de l'Hudson " as soloist, with Robert Prouff (chord) and, successively, Jean Bouhours and Marc Pero (bass).

In 1949, he is contacted by Borrah MINEVITCH to be part of the new european famous ensemble : the " Rascals ". But he is under 20 and is obliged to decline the proposition to which his father is firmly opposed.

In 1951 he wins the harmonica Coupe de France, at Pleyel concert hall, with his trio re-named " Hudson Trio ". He is already noted for his mastery of all types of harmonicas and wins several prizes among them the radio station " Europe 1 " Cup, in 1953, with " René GARY Trio ". He is elected CFH President (Confédération Française de l'Harmonica) in 1958, with René GARY as technical director and Albert RAISNER President of Honour. In 1959, with René GARY and Claude RAGUET,the trio Gary named the " Parisians "for the occasion, he makes his first records, (two 45), in New york , USA, where he occasionally stays. The adventure of the trio Gary will end with the death of René Gary in 1987 (Claude Raguet will die in 1992).

Jean is registered at the SACEM (French society of composers, authors and publishers), since 1971, as songwriter and since 1979 as publisher. To date, SACEM reported 146 of his works have generated royalties.

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The Trio GARY joins the " HOTVILL'S " in 1973. This associaton is named " NEW HOTVILL'S ", then in 1977 it becomes " PHILARMONICA ", produced by the new society P.S.B. (Productions Stéphanie Bertrand), idea of his wife Danielle (Air France stewardess) who manages it with him, until her death in 1980.

With P.S.B., he directs and is in charge of the technical direction for a number of records : variety, atmospheric music, world music, etc. Air France crew member for more than thirty years (he has spent 22.995 hours in planes), his compositions have been broadcasted on the musical channels on board of the planes of this company he has left in 1985.

In 1990 he creates "France Harmonica Association" (become "Harmonicas de France Federation"), of which he is Founder President.

In 1991, he is appointed IHO (International Harmonica organization) vice president for Europe, and representative for this association (, he travels all around the world (Europe, Asia, USA, etc.), taking part in most of the greatest harmonica events. From then, he will be often jury member for the worldwide competitions.

During the nineties Jean Labre will play successively in the trios "Hotvill's" and "Harmonica Swingers" (renamed "The Parisians"), as soloist.

In 2005, he creates the french/japanese trio "Les Parisiens" (soloist Nami Miyata, bass Maurice Bailly, chord Jean Labre).

His discography that you will see underneath lists 19 works, (four 45, seven LP 33 and nine CD), realised between 1959 and to-day.

With this, we hope you'll now better know Jean Labre and wish you'll enjoy the visit of his website.

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New Hotvill's quintet (1974), from left : Jean Labre, Claude Raguet, Michel Evain, René Gary and Maurice Bailly, below.


Jean Labre has always been open to all musical styles. That's why some harmonica purists may be surprised at reading this discography which includes some recordings with very few, or even no harmonica interventions, but in which he established himself as creator, composer and director.

For example his album " Fantastica Batucada " is an illustration of his interest in world music and to realise it he studied during two years the brazilian percussions. It is the same with genre music, in his record of european musics, " Europe en Musique ", when he marries harmonica with accordion and several other instruments traditionally european. He also loves provençale folklore and the academy " Lou Rode " for which he composed and recorded several titles mixing harmonica with folk ensembles (tambourine players). We must not forget his interest in atmospheric music illustrated by " Vol de Nuit ". Composed in memory of Saint Exupéry, this album was also realised and directed by himself, a proof of his eclectism that you'll discover underneath.

1960 - " THE PARISIANS " 45t, Bullseye records B-1028 (5057/58) USA
1960 - " THE PARISIANS ", Argyle records A-1006 (6001/02) USA
1974 - " NEW HOTVILL'S " 33t, Sonopress St 69631
1977 - " PHILARMONICA" " 33t, Sonopress St 69672
1978 - " TANGO DE FRANCE " 45t, Takayama records HM 00451 JAPON
1979 - " DISCOBOLID' " 45t, Takayama records HM 00452 JAPON
1979 - " LOU RODE " 33t et cassette PSB PF/ 79301
1980 - " NOEL LOU RODE " 33t et cassette PSB PN/80302
1981 - " VOL DE NUIT " 33t et cassette PSB PV/81303
1983 - " ALTITUDES " 33t et cassette PSB PV/83304
1985 - " HARMONIPLANE " 33t et cassette PSB PV/85305
CD et cassette (enregistré sous son pseudonyme Sacem : " Oscar Echo ")
1989 - " EUROPE EN MUSIQUE " CD et cassette PSB PV/89313
1989 - " LES HARMONICHATS " CD et cassette PSB PV/89313
1991 - " HARMONICA MAN " CD et cassette PSB PV/91317
1995 - " YOKOHAMA 95 " CD J.L. / 001
2001 - " HUMANITAS " CD J.L. / 005
2009 - "POSTCARDS" CD J.L. / 006
2010 - "ST BARTH'SONGS" CD JBAB/001/1

In 1992 Jean Labre realised and recorded " Charlie live in Paris ", a CD of Charlie Mac Coy during a concert at La Cigale in Paris (Record : PSB PV/92318).

*See our article "World Championships Story":

Photos M.Vicent-Roubert/ René Pardon/ Ameslon
Published June 16th 2005


Copyright © Jean Labre 2005-20 - Updated on July 6th 2020 -