Gilles Grethen Quartet

Biography Gilles Grethen Quartet

Gilles Grethen Quartet

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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