14.02, 12.30, Charlier Museum:
Mathieu Robert & Mario Ganau
Who is… Mathieu Robert?
As jazz hub, Brussels has always had a strong appeal, and even more so for young musicians, including saxophonist Mathieu Robert (°1989) who left his home-town Mons to move to our capital city.
He starts his musical training with the classical saxophone and solfeggio at the local music academy. Soon after he gets acquainted with jazz whilst attending courses with Fabrice Alleman.
He then moves to Brussels to further his musical education at the Royal Conservatory of Music. He completes his bachelor in the French-speaking department and his master in the Dutch-speaking department, and finishes off with a teaching certificate.
In the meantime, he gradually integrates in Brussels’ musical world as evidenced by his association with several bands which straightaway illustrate his multifaceted views.
With Edi Olvitt, he shares equal responsibility with Nicolas Chkifi and Quentin Stokart. Three different personalities who freely tack between free, abstract and an extensive search for the sound of contemporary jazz.
Book of Air is the exceptional project by the Cools brothers, the ideal setup for Mathieu to unfold another, more meditative side of his personality.
Altogether different is Blue Monday People. Here everything revolves around the François Vaiana’s lyrics and vocal performances while with Guillaume Vierset’s band Harvest, melody prevails.
One of the latest project he embarked on is Philémon, le chien qui ne voulait pas grandir, chamber music between jazz, classical music and improvisation.
In addition, there is also his foray into the world of literature alongside Catalan actress Neus Martinez under the name Mousse where she recites poetry and Mathieu accompanies her live playing his own compositions.
For a while now, he has been forming a duo with soprano saxophonist Pierre Vaiana, with whom he went into learning and was part of the band FATIK. Together they explore the possibilities of their instrument.
For the upcoming concert at the Charlier Museum, Mathieu hits the stage with Italian pianist Mario Ganau. They both met at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels and just completed the recording of an album which is due out this year.
... your favourite spot in Brussels?
I have been attending yoga classes for four years with Erwin Vann at his Sampoorna Studio located Rue du Houblon in the heart of Brussels. I am now teaching there myself. Because of its pureness, the space conveys an atmosphere of serenity. It is the ideal backdrop for me to progress in this discipline. My purpose in the long run is a cross-pollination between yoga and jazz.
… the last CD or album you bought for yourself?
I buy loads of CDs. My most recent purchase is ‘One More Time’ by Mal Waldron with Steve Lacy and Jean-Jacques Avenel. If you ask me, one of Waldron’s best records. It all sounds extremely easy and yet it is remarkably rich and profound. It feels like a family picture. They had each of them already been playing with each other but never together as a trio like on this album.
The same day I also bought ‘Elegy’ by Theo Bleckmann. I was familiar with his Refuge Trio but this is something else with pianist Shai Maestro, guitarist Ben Monder, drummer John Hollenbeck and Chris Tordini on double bass. I have a soft spot for ECM’s meditative sound anyway, in particular when soprano saxophone and voice are very close to one another.
… your fondest memory of a recent concert?
That was Eve Beuvens’ quartet with Mikael Godée at Jazzstation. Here again it is that poetic sound which so appeals to me. They kept themselves far from a stereotypical approach. Pure soprano saxophonists are rather few and far between. That is why I try as much as possible to go to concerts like this one.
… your favourite quote of the moment?
I have it from a book on artist Georges Braque: “With age, art and life become one”. Steve Lacy was also a Braque fan. If you study one single subject long enough, you discover all the interlinkages with other disciplines and mainly with life itself. Quite an example in that respect is Mal Waldron. It may seem that he was endlessly playing the same material but he explored it in such great depth that there was a huge underlying richness to it.