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  • 1Change08:32
  • 2Transcendence05:06
  • 3Intro to State of Mind02:11
  • 4State of Mind05:04
  • 5Delirium07:04
  • 6Until the Moon Went Down08:54
  • 7Intro to Forgetful00:47
  • 8Forgetful08:20
  • 9Outside06:22
  • 10Contemplation07:03
  • Total Runtime59:23

Info for State of Mind

Rising-star Luxembourgish guitarist and composer Gilles Grethen unites his quartet with an 11-piece string orchestra this October in a genre-fluid exploration between jazz and classical traditions..

State of Mind follows up on his 2021 debut ‘Time Suite’, which explored the concept of a suite and its potential to be translated into the jazz idiom.

Taking the idea several steps further, Grethen’s intricate compositions dance around complex themes and harmonies, whilst never losing sight of the rich and diverse sound of contemporary jazz.

“I wanted to have a larger line-up for the second album, although I first thought of a big band,” Grethen admitted. “But I always had the sound of strings in my mind when composing, because I come from classical music and I exclusively played that as a child and adolescent. The sound didn’t let go of me, and I thought I had to do something with it; I even had some good ideas right away.”

Warm harmonies and lyrical melodies, combined with a captivating rhythm and underlined by Grethen’s warm yet vibrant guitar sound, are the primary ingredients of their music.

Continuing a long and storied tradition that dates back at least as far as the iconic “Charlie Parker with Strings” sessions, the music is balanced between sections of lush strings and vast open spaces for the quartet to improvise with.

German trumpeter Vincent Pinn, Italian bassist Gabriele Basilico and Luxembourg drummer Michel Meis combine to create the many different moods and soundscapes. From contemplation to intoxication and delusion to transcendental experiences, various states of the human mind are made acoustically tangible, but the music always remains sensual despite all the complexity.

“When all the strings play together beautifully, they act like one big instrument,” he said. “This great sound that can come from it fascinates me.”

Gilles Grethen, guitar
Vincent Pinn, trumpet, flugelhorn
Gabriele Basilico, double bass
Michel Meis, drums

Gilles Grethen Quartet
Many musicians have already thought about the time. The young guitarist Gilles Grethen wrote an entire "Time Suite" for his quartet, which plays with the sound diversity of his ensemble in ever new and surprising ways.

Grethen comes from Luxembourg, where he came to jazz through classical music and through his father's CD collection. "I was listening to Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald, I even secretly danced to them," he recalls. "I found the old Count Basie recordings in particular to be very refreshing and modern."

Little Gilles first learned violin and clarinet, later also drums and bass. "I started playing the electric guitar when I was thirteen," says Grethen, who was born in 1994. "The jazz guitarist Greg Lamy was my teacher and quickly realized that I wanted to play jazz instead of rock and pop."

Grethen initially got fed up with the classics of the instrument, which were more at home "on the funky side of things". "Back then I was listening to Wes Montgomery, like 'Smokin' at the Half Note' over and over," says Grethen. "But I also listened to Grant Green very, very much and he was one of my great idols."

Grethen later studied at the University of Music in Saarbrücken, where he also met his musicians, namely the Luxembourgish drummer Michel Meis - who made his debut in our Next Generation series with his 4tet - and the Italian bassist Gabriele Basilico. "At first we were a trio," Grethen remembers, "but then I invited the German trumpeter Vincent Pinn. I really wanted to have a brass instrument because the sound of trumpet and flugelhorn combines extremely well with the guitar – I just think that's great.”

Gilles Grethen then decided on a suite because of the abundance of ideas in his head. "I had a lot of ideas that kind of went together but didn't fit into one piece," he says. “This construct of the suite from the classical era, where you have six pieces that are connected to each other but still have their own character, seemed appropriate to me. I didn't adopt the form specifications, but there is a common thread that holds the six pieces together. The harmony runs through all the pieces and there are melodies that reappear in modified form in other pieces.”

The compositions are somewhere between traditional and modern jazz and are characterized by their warm harmonies and lyrical melodies. The pieces often begin quietly and slowly, but always change character, developing concise rhythms and harmonic ideas. The unison passages of trumpet and guitar in particular have their appeal, but it's the warm yet lively guitar sound and the common playing culture of all four musicians that makes "Time Suite" sound so convincing.

"Michel Meis is a very energetic person and that also characterizes his drumming," the band leader sums up the tension that the drummer allows to flow into the band. "He brings an unbelievable energy that makes you play so much that the music almost explodes."

Of course, Grethen is also full of praise for Vincent Pinn: “I appreciate him as a trumpeter and as a person. He has a very round sound and improvises very imaginatively. He plays with melodies and is full of surprises. He never plays the way you expect, and I think that's a good thing."

And then there is the unusually varied bass player. “I value Gabriele Basilico as a double bass player who, like all of us, comes from the classical world. He has an incredible sound and very nice ideas when accompanying. He doesn't fall into the typical bass role, but also plays with the melodies and the theme while accompanying.”

Between sensual relaxation and bold improvisations, the Gilles Grethen Quartet creates a variety of sounds that is truly unparalleled.

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