Gărâna Jazz Festival/ Pianist Gregory Privat: “Music is my first connection to spirituality”

Shortly before this year’s edition of the famed Gărâna Jazz Festival, I spoke with one of its most awaited guests, jazz pianist and composer Gregory Privat, a nominee of the Victoires du Jazz 2015, about the Caribbean flavours of his music and the tremendous power of jazz to connect people and cultures.

Un articol de Cristina Enescu Aky|9 iulie 2019

Only two days separate us from the start of Romania’s biggest open air music festival, Gărâna Jazz Festival (11-14 July), the event that, since 22 years ago, has been gathering jazz and mountain lovers in the breath-taking landscape of Gărâna, a small village in the Caraș-Severin county. This year, among the guests of the Festival is Gregory Privat Trio. The founder and pianist of the group was born in Martinique, an exotic French island in the Eastern Caribbean Sea. Alongside Guadeloupe, Martinique is a small island but boasts a rich musical tradition and culture. It was where, in the 1960s, that the so-called “small jazz” was born, influenced by meringue (a traditional music and dance from Haiti).

About Gregory Privat, an article in the London Jazz News said, back in 2016: “Those hands. Perhaps one day someone will make a film about them. (…) He has velocity and technique to spare, and also a strong melodic sense, particularly in lyrical pieces.

How has your upbringing in the Caribbean region, with the specific culture, music and traditions, then your life as a student in France, influenced the musician you became and are today?

I grew up in a family where music is very present. My father is the piano player of « Malavoi », which is a famous band of traditional music from Martinique, and he has also a true passion for jazz music, so I was influenced by both universes.

I didn’t study music in France, actually I was a student in an engineering school of telecommunications. I stayed 5 years being an engineer and a professional musician at the same time in Paris. The thing is I met a lot of great jazz musicians there, especially in Paris where jazz culture is very strong,  so I was being inspired a lot, and then I decided to make my first record album.

What drew you towards jazz initially? And what fuels, still, your passion for this music?

My father made me discover Michel Petrucciani, my greatest influence for jazz, because of the power of his strong melodies. This was the beginning of my passion for Jazz, and improvisation. What I love most in jazz music is the fact that you can improvise, play the same song again and again in a different way.

What is the value (the necessity?) of jazz in these times of multiple entertainment and music options? And does it still keep and create strong connections with the hot topics of our times?

First of all, the fact that you can improvise with this music give you the ability to play with anybody, and speak the same language, even if you come from a different country, and have a different culture. This is why jazz have the power to connect people. I think it’s very important to be able to share this kind of bonding, because we realize that we share the same values.

Jazz, and music in general, help me to connect with myself, so that I could connect with audience, and share a positive energy together.

Your style of understanding and making jazz is…. ?

Music for me is my first connection with spirituality. A way to find peace, joy and confort.

For those still weary about jazz, how would you suggest they approach this genre in order to get the taste of it?

People have to stay curious to get into jazz, and should not be afraid to try it. For me it’s a kind of music that can be very diverse and mix with a lot of different styles of music. Jazz is like food, you have to try it, to taste it. So you need to begin with an artist that can bring you to this music. This is the role of jazz musician today, to be able to bring a new audience to what we call jazz today.

How do you expect Gărâna Jazz Festival to be?

I’ve never been there, but I was in Oradea last year and it was really great. So I’m sure it will be fun !!!


More information about this year’s Gărâna Jazz Festival can be found here https://www.garana-jazz.ro

The musician’s official website: www.gregoryprivat.com


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