Jean-Paul Estiévenart

Trumpet player Jean-Paul Estiévenart: definitely a musician’s musician, well on his way to becoming the darling of the public through his activities amidst the most diverse bands.

04.03, Flagey
Jean-Paul Estiévenart Trio

17.03, CC De Meent (Alsemberg)
Jean-Paul Estiévenart Trio

26.03, Marni
MikMâäk-XL bigband

02.04, Jazz Station
Jazz Station Big Band


Who is… Jean-Paul Estiévenart?

To become the multi-faceted musician he is today, it took Jean-Paul Estiévenart (°1985) a great deal of perseverance – when in the early years of his career, he showed up almost every Monday evening for the jam sessions at Sounds – and countless hours of self-study. His overall preference goes to pure jazz but this talented trumpeter never misses an opportunity to break away from all possible stereotypes. As such, he played with Lady Linn’s swing jazz orchestra and he is a member of the multicultural band Marockin’ Brass. In addition, he has made some appearances in free jazz circles, was part of the Jazz Station Big Band and performed with the Brussels Jazz Orchestra. Furthermore, he takes the stage with LG Jazz Collective, MikMâäk and Manu Hermia 5tet, to name just a few.
All these appearances and efforts earned him widespread recognition among his peers and the public. He was for instance awarded the ‘Django d’Or 2006’ for young talent of the year and received an award for the debut album of his quartet 4in1. Right now, however, he focuses on his trio with Antoine Pierre (drums) and Sam Gerstmans (bass). Their latest CD ‘Wanted’ met with enthusiastic responses from everywhere. The trio just rounded off Les Lundis d’Hortense’s Jazztour and makes ready to tackle the upcoming JazzLab tour. The concert at Flagey is the ideal opportunity to see this up-and-coming star perform in optimum conditions.

What is…

... your favourite spot in Brussels?

When I do not have to hit the stage, I do not go out very often. However, in the morning, I regularly have a coffee at OR Espresso Bar, opposite the Beursschouwburg. I usually sit at the long table, facing the street and watch people passing by. It is very inspiring, as is the fact to be sitting next to complete strangers and sometimes overhear little snippets of their conversations. So I learn how ‘normal’ people spend their day and what their interests are. Every now and then, I engage in a conversation with some of them. I do the same when I am on the train – if they look friendly that is (laughs).
It is a given fact that non-musicians or people who are not part of the creative business do not use their time in the same way as we do, and consequently, view and live their lives differently. When we go out, it is generally to get a breath of fresh air. And although I have a family life, priorities differ. People with a nine-to-five job come home and can put their work aside for a while and dive into another world watching a film or reading a book as they wish. Artists never stop: it is a 24-hour job, even while they are sleeping. I want to be creative all the time. That is also one of the reasons why I moved to Brussels’ city centre. The city is a true source of inspiration because there is always something happening.


… your fondest memory of a recent concert in Brussels?

That would be the Mark Turner Quartet at De Werf in Bruges in November last year. I had already seen them on stage a couple of years ago but this performance was even better. The way in which the four musicians play as a close-knit band is amazing. Some consider Turner’s approach too intellectualistic and yet, everything he brings flows so naturally. The same applies to the quartet’s trumpet player Avishai Cohen. He does whatever he wants with his instrument but with elegance unlike any other. And that is not even mentioning the rhythm section. That is also why it is so important for us to take part in Les Lundis d’Hortense’s Jazz Tour or any other tour, as for instance with the JazzLab Series. You have the opportunity to bring a series of consecutive concerts with your band and that pays off. It is the ideal way to make further progress and evolve.

… the last CD or album you bought for yourself?

‘Weightless’ by singer Becca Stevens. I discovered her only recently: she brings a song on Ambrose Akinmusire’s latest CD, ‘The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier to Paint’. She was a student at the Manhattan School of Music’s jazz department at the same time as Akinmusire. Her album has a folk-style sound. She also plays the guitar. But it is more than just that. Her music mainly borders on Scandinavian aesthetics, she reminds me of Björk. Recently, I also purchased an album by Ólöf Arnalds, another Icelandic singer. Vocalists inspire me a lot. The trumpet is able to produce sounds that are very close to the human voice because you can make your instrument sound extremely loud, ranging from warm and lyrical to very wild and assertive. I am only just starting to truly appreciate my instrument. The possibilities are infinite but that makes it all the more difficult.


… your favourite quote of the moment?

It is a quote from Max Roach: “Black, white, yellow, blue with pink polka dots, jazz, popular, classical music, all these semantic distinctions are intended to separate, offend and oppose musicians. They are insignificant and refer to nothing else but music.” This is why I play with many different bands, regardless of their musical genre or style. As long as the music is good and you stay true to yourself. As soon as you try to copy something or someone, it generally all goes down the drain, and faster than you think. There is no question that we are all subject to different influences. It is almost impossible today to be completely original because of what has already been done. You cannot possibly know and keep up with everything that is happening in the world of jazz and music elsewhere.
I have fun every time I play in a band, and that is what is most important to me. This always reminds me of what Wynton Marsalis once said about musicians: they do no exercise a profession because a profession involves work; musicians only play music. They play... even though there are sometimes difficult situations. Each time, you have to strike the right balance with your fellow musicians. In other words, you have no choice but to be flexible all the time.