CHASED) Art and People Berlin

Interview: Jazz trumpeter Airelle Besson

30 Okt

One of a select few to be selected as 2013′s Take Five European emerging jazz artist trumpeter Airelle Besson, plays with Riccardo Del Fra’s Quintet : “My Chet, My Song” on the 2nd and 3rd November at renowned Berlin jazz club A-Trane.

Multi-instrumentalist (she performs on flugelhorn, and violin also), Airelle Besson is a former student of Wynton Marsalis, and was a founding member of past acclaimed jazz outfit ‘Rockingchair’.

Italian, Riccardo del Fra, was Chet Baker’s bass player, and he will also be joined by German jazz pianist Sebastian Sternal, German drummer Jonas Burgwinkel, and French alto sax player Pierrick Pedron.

We managed to catch up with Airelle while she zoomed around, and here she is kindly answering our questions.


Chased: Arielle, what made you want to play the trumpet, and how old were you when you got the jazz bug?

AB: I wanted to play the trumpet when I was 4 years old. I have no idea why (neither do my parents or relatives…) It was a very fixed idea.
My father actually wanted me to play the harp! We went to lots of harp concerts and met harp teachers, but I never changed my mind: it was the trumpet or nothing. I had my first lesson as soon as I reached the right age for that instrument: 7 years old, at the conservatoire in Paris. And I haven’t stopped since.

My father had an important role in my musical education.
He introduced me to jazz quite early on – I played my first jazz standards when I was 11, also played for the first time in a big band when I was 11. Again, I haven’t stopped since then!
What motivated him to introduce me to this music is of course his passion for jazz, but most of all was that he was aware of the opportunities that jazz music could give me in comparision with the classical or contemporary répertoire for trumpet.

Chased: You were commissioned last year by the Orchestre national de Lyon to write a symphonic piece for the silent movie ‘Loulou’, and are currently writing for children’s choir and orchestra, in which you will direct, and play – is this a direction you would like to move more in as your career advances?

AB: Very interesting question there.
I’ve been studying conducting for the last four years. The reason for this is my own curiosity which has come from the huge amount of playing I did as a violinist and trumpeter in orchestras during my teens.
As I compose and arrange already, I thought conducting would increase my knowledge.
It is a direction I would like to move more towards and it’s happening naturally, without me asking for it – last year’s commission and this year’s one, both came by pure luck.
I am more and more interested in big ensembles. A dream would be to be able to conduct my own music and the music of my contemporaries.

Chased: You tour extensively, how do you relax when you are at home and regain energy for your next travels?

AB: At the moment, when I’m at home in between tours, I don’t really have so much time to relax because I have to take care of up-coming concerts, the projects I want to put together and all the stuff related to it…
One thing for sure is that I try to have a good and healthy “lifestyle” generally, and especially while I’m touring … I try hard to maintain it, but sometimes it’s tricky to respect your “codes” all the time.

Chased: You play with deep sensitivity and respect for your fellow musicians – does playing jazz enable you to ‘talk’ with your fellow performers during a performance, perhaps discover new things about them?

AB: I really like this question, nobody has ever asked me that… it’s very interesting.
One great thing about jazz is improvisation; you’re constantly taking risks and going somewhere (in your improvisations), that neither you nor your fellow musicians really know – the “unknown”.
If they are open to it, it can become a real exchange and it can go quite far musically. This is when the “conversation” really starts, you can “build” your improvisations around that perimeter.
Do I discover new things about them? I discover in what directions we can go, and what possibilities there are.

Chased: Which artists and musicians inspire you?

AB: Everyday life inspires me; people, meeting new people, language, accents, radio, countries, cities, landscapes, books, authors, and films, to name some of the things!
I like to go to exhibitions (contemporary and classical pictorial art), to have a visual aspect of artistic life. Monet, Nolde, Klimt, Kandinsky, and Turner are my favorite painters.

The two musicians that have always accompanied me through life are Keith Jarrett in jazz, and J.S. Bach – the one that I have listened to and studied from the very beginning.

Chased: What would you like your audiences to get from watching and listening to you and your colleagues play?

AB: This question is tricky! I want them to share the music with me and my fellow musicians, the instancy of it, the interplay… just to be in the moment of the music with us and also to walk away from the concert with something new in their heads, something they can remember, whatever it is.

Chased: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us, Airelle, and all best for a fantastic weekend at A-Trane!



Airelle Besson (c) Lucille Reyboz

Airelle Besson (c) Lucille Reyboz

Airelle Besson (c) Emile Holba

Airelle Besson (c) Emile Holba

Airelle Besson (c) Gérard Beckers

Airelle Besson (c) Gérard Beckers

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