Igor Gehenot

Young piano player who strikes the perfect balance between style and lyricism, both with his trio and with the super band Lg Jazz Collective.

30.04, 20.30, Music Village
Igor Gehenot Trio

06.05, 20.30, Jazz Station
Lg Jazz Collective

22.05, 18.30, Brussels Jazz Marathon (Grand-Place/Grote Markt)
LG Jazz Collective

23.05, 21.30, Brussels Jazz Marathon (Place Fernand Cocqplein)
Igor Gehenot & Chrystel Wautier 5tet

 

Who is… Igor Gehenot?

Igor Gehenot (°1989) is a prime example of the Belgian musician from the younger generation. He attends jazz courses in various locations (Liège, Maastricht) before choosing Brussels as operating base and becomes a permanent fixture at the jam sessions in The Sounds. Previously, he already performs alongside Antoine Pierre (Philip Catherine’s accredited drummer) as a member of the Metropolitan Quartet which won the ‘Young talent’ Prize at the Comblain-La-Tour Festival (2011). He then falls under the spell of Bill Evans and quite quickly starts his own trio with Teun Verbruggen and Sam Gerstmans (since replaced by Philippe Aerts). The trio’s debut album ‘Road Story’ (2012) grows out to become a benchmark of Belgian jazz, a success which is further confirmed by the sequel opus ‘Motion’ (2014).
In the meantime, he scores the ‘Sabam Jeunesses Musicales Jazz Award’ and is currently an active member of the super band Lg Jazz Collective, seven strong characters from the emerging Belgian jazz scene, each of whom has already gained a solid reputation and all together deliver an eye-catching showcase with their first album ‘New Feel’.
Gehenot is first and foremost a musician who thrives on challenges. So, for instance, he partners up with veteran saxophone player Robert Jeanne but also takes on a project for his trio with the Polish Atom Strings Quartet.
That Gehenot bears in mind that all on-stage aspects (lighting, introduction, clothing) are to be taken into account, is much to his credit. This is likely the result of his studies in graphic design whilst his keen sense of humour adds up to make each one of his performances into a must-see show.


What is…

... your favourite spot in Brussels?

For the moment, my favourite spot is definitely the Bravo, a bar-cum-jazz club (in the basement) which opened its doors about a year ago. It is amazing to feel how this place just oozes energy. The venue clearly meets the requirements of the younger generation. It is undeniably the place to be on Wednesday evenings. Major assets are the friendly service, reasonable prices and a piano in good working condition. Furthermore, it is obviously ideally located, right in Brussels’ city centre. Another positive aspect is that concerts do not start too late in the evening. I like to pop in on Friday nights although the music is then rather driven by groove. It is really a place that suits everyone’s taste, whether for those who enjoy a fun evening out with friends or for genuine music lovers who appreciate good live music. The Bravo offers new bands the opportunity to appear on stage but what’s great is that the venue only recently also welcomes big international names now and then.


… the last CD or album you bought for yourself?

The last album I purchased is ‘Girl Talk’ by Polish jazz singer Monika Borzym. She very cleverly combines pop and jazz without it becoming a catch-all acoustic backdrop. Nothing new but she covers mainly songs from the last five to ten years. For this album, she is backed up by first-class musicians including Eric Harland, Larry Grenadier, Aaron Parks and Seamus Blake. She is at the top of my list for a future collaboration if the opportunity arises. Besides, for the Jazz Marathon, I have a special programme planned with singer Christel Wautier. It is my intention to follow up on this project. I grew up with the French chanson, hence my interest in singing. It is also reflected in my style which is not so much technical but rather lyrical. The challenge is, like Tord Gustavsen for instance, to serve the vocalist whilst sticking to your own recognizable style.


… your fondest memory of a recent concert
?

That would be the Brad Mehldau Trio a few years ago at Bozar. What I admire about him is his calm composure behind the piano. Also, the spun-out manner in which he lets the music run freely is fascinating. He performed a piece by Charlie Parker and it is only after an endless introduction that he finally lifted a corner of the veil. The masterful way in which he builds up tension is simply superb. For me, he is the new Keith Jarrett. It is a fact that he has been the subject of considerable media hype because of his Radiohead covers but you cannot deny that he does it tastefully.
As far as classics are concerned, I rather have the tendency to hold back. Once in a while, I play a piece live on stage and yes, on my recent album – a bit by accident I must add – there is a version of ‘In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning’. But there are others who do it far better than me. So, I refrain myself. I’d rather carry on the jazz tradition with my own compositions.

 

… your favourite quote of the moment?

 “The greatest constraints give rise to the greatest freedoms” (C’est dans les plus grandes contraintes que naissent les plus grandes libertés). I studied graphic design and when a teacher confronted us for the very first time with a blank sheet of paper with only a tiny dot on it and asked us to use that tiny dot as starting point, I was rather gobsmacked. When I have to improvise on one given note, I personally find this extremely difficult. Some of my fellow musicians excel at improvising, Manu Hermia for instance. I need at least a basic scheme of chords to get me started. As far as I am concerned, inspiration comes at the most unexpected times and afterwards, it can take me sometimes months before I turn the idea into a fully-accomplished piece of music. But do not get me wrong, I am not complaining. Besides, let me also quote another typical Walloon saying: “On neis nin riche mais on vî bien” or “we are not rich but we live well”. Jazz musicians enjoy the finer things in life, starting with me (laughs). If you live a bland and boring life, I believe it is impossible to convey emotions as an artist. And after all, our job is none other than moving people.