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Airelle Besson


zdjęcie: Airelle Besson, fot. Sylvain-Gripoix

Trumpeter, composer and arranger, Airelle Besson has made a name for herself on the European jazz scene with her clear and powerful playing, virtuoso but never too demonstrative, full of emotion and musicality. Trained in both classical and jazz fields, she regards Bach as well as Keith Jarrett as her masters. Winner of the Django-Reinhardt prize of the Académie du Jazz and the Victoire du Jazz in the ‘French Instrumental Revelation of the Year’ category, Airelle Besson is as much a sought-after sidewoman as a leader and an established composer. Born in 1978 in Paris, Airelle Besson became fascinated with trumpet playing at a very young age. As a teenager, she also learned to play the violin, while educating herself in classical and jazz music. She went through various conservatories, studied musicology at the Sorbonne and then joined the CNSMD in Paris, from which she graduated with the First Prize in jazz. Her turning point toward jazz took place while attending a workshop at the Cluny Jazz Festival (Jazz Campus en Clunisois) with trumpet player Jean-François Canape. At that time, she teamed up with saxophonist Sylvain Rifflet to form and co-direct Rockingchair, a quintet with rock and electronic influences. The band released two albums, Rockingchair (2007) and 1:1 (2011). In 2013, she was selected to take part in the ‘Take 5: Europe’ programme. This gave her the opportunity to make her mark on the European jazz scene and opened the door to perform at major European festivals such as the North Sea Jazz Festival, Molde Jazz Festival, Banlieues Bleues and the London Jazz Festival. The following year, Airelle Besson transformed her long-standing friendship and collaboration with guitarist Nelson Veras into a poetic, acoustic duo in the album Prélude (Naïve Records). The album was a huge success and the two musicians toured internationally for several years. The same year, Airelle Besson created her own quartet with Isabel Sörling (voice), Benjamin Moussay (keyboards) and Fabrice Moreau (drums). Widely acclaimed by both the press and the public, their first album (Radio One, Naïve) is a tour de force of strength, balance and lucidity. It elegantly displays the artist’s full potential: the melodic power of her compositions as well as her talent for bringing them into a harmonious whole with the vocals. Her second album Try! was released on February 5, 2021. In 2020/21 she was artist-in-residence at the Cité musicale-Metz, where she created a new classical-jazz program with the Orchestre National de Metz. Throughout her career, Airelle Besson has been a valued member of various groups led by prestigious artists, notably in Charlie Haden and Carla Bley’s Liberation Music Orchestra in 2006. Other notable reference points are her work in the duo with Vincent Ségal and Lionel Suarez, in the trio formed with the German musicians Sebastien Sternal and Jonas Burgwinkel and with Lionel Suarez’s Quarteto Gardel with Vincent Segal and Minino Garay. In all these ensembles, as well as in her own groups, Airelle Besson stands out for her capacity to say a lot with a few notes. In her playing, lightness and delicacy rise above the classical rigour. Her precise and accurate style is among the best French jazz has to offer.