Grégoire Maret

VÖ: 25.04.2024

Genre: French Jazz, US Jazz



ACT 9959-2, 614427995926
“An emotional, ecstatic Ennio Morricone homage and a labour of love. ****”(The Guardian)

Grégoire Maret / chromatic harmonica
Romain Collin / steinway d & keyboards

Marcus Gilmore / drums
Burniss Earl Travis II / bass
Marvin Sewell / guitar
Alexandra Sopp /flute
Special guests:
Cassandra Wilson / vocals
Gregory Porter / vocals

How do you follow up a successful album like “Americana”? Released in April 2020, it not only received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album, it has also registered streaming statistics approaching ten million. It brought together harmonica player Grégoire Maret and pianist Romain Collin, performing in a trio with Bill Frisell in which the three found happy common ground in their “shared love of jazz, song and pure melody” (Jazziz), and offered listeners a "gorgeous meditation on the American Dream." (Bill Milkowski).
“Americana” and Maret and Collin's subsequent work together helped to cement a friendship between these two fine New York-based musicians with Francophone origins (Geneva and Antibes respectively). As Collin says: “There is something about the way we work together that feels very fluid and natural.”
Maret and Collin established quickly that watching films featuring the music of Ennio Morricone had been an important part of family life for both of them, and a strong part of what had initially drawn them towards music. “Those movies, and the way they incorporated the music really stayed in my mind.” remembers Maret. And when the great man died in July 2020 at the age of 91, it affected them both deeply. Maret, for example, was to regret that a plan to include him in some of Morricone’s later concerts had sadly never come to fruition. But above all, the musicians felt a deep affinity for Morricone’s music: “We are both naturally drawn to the European sensitivities, the romantic language,” says Collin.
Collin remembers experiencing a certain caution as they started to think about following this thread running so deeply through both their musical pasts, and making an album: “If we’re going to do it, it has to really add something,” he remembers thinking. So they both started to research Morricone’s oeuvre intensively and to immerse themselves in it. “We really wanted to find out what he was really like as a person and a musician,” Maret remembers. This led to them contacting Morricone’s official biographer Alessandro De Rosa. They had several conversations with him during the pandemic. De Rosa has written an illuminating sleeve note in praise of the album.
“We wanted as many sounds and colours as we could possibly get, because this is such a part of Ennio Morricone’s music,” says Maret. The sheer range of Morricone’s work comes across vividly in “Ennio”.The unmistakably personal is certainly there: a track where strong emotions from the musicians’ childhoods come through vividly is“Chi Mai” from the film the film “Le Professionel”. Both recall watching the film as children. So, logically, it is performed as a duet for harmonica and piano, but a careful listen reveals another sound in the bass: the subliminal resonances of Collin playing an antique pedal harmonium.
“Once Upon a Time in the West” - a film score which, unusually, was composed before the filming - and the other Sergio Leone “Spaghetti Westerns” are also there. And perhaps the least surprising thing about “Ennio” is quite how well the Italian’s music suits Maret’s “big-hearted sound” (Ottawa Citizen): Maret has been advised by countless people, and for longer than he can remember...that it would. And yet a careful listen to this collection reveals unexpected treats and gifts which never seem to stop.
Surprises, for example, come from the stellar array of guest musicians. Maret says he felt truly blessed to hear from Cassandra Wilson that she liked the idea of writing new English words for Mina’s “Se Telefonando” a ‘labour of love’ – Maret has been in her band for a decade. And he was just as thrilled when Gregory Porter agreed to do the song as a duet with her. And the other instrumentalists bring magic too: drummer Marcus Gilmore “can do just about anything and he is an amazing person,” says Maret. Guitarist Marvin Sewell and bassist Burniss Earl Travis II are also Maret's colleagues from Cassandra Wilson's band and they make all kinds of intriguing sounds. And Collin has tricks up his sleeve as well: for example, he complements Maret’s sound on “Man with a Harmonica” with the eerieness of 1970s/80s rarities: a MoogCordovox White Elephant and a foot-operated analog synth, a Taurus. Alessandro De Rosa’s sleeve note for “Ennio” sums up the album very well: it “takes the listener through the complexity of Morricone’s multifaceted oeuvre and vividly portrays the emotional impact it has had on them. It is a journey that re-imagines and narrates this immensely significant contemporary composer in a way which is both new and authentic.”
Grégoire Maret
The Swiss-born, New York-based harmonica player and GRAMMY winner, Grégoire Maret. His ACT debut, "Harp vs. Harp," a duo recording with harp virtuoso Edmar Castañeda and special guests Béla Fleck and Andrea Tierra, was released worldwide on June 14, 2019. Over the past decade, Grégoire Maret has evolved into a unique voice of his instrument within the wide spectrum of the modern jazz world. He has done nothing less than redefine the role of the harmonica in a variety of musical styles. The list of musical heavyweights he regularly collaborates with is impressive: Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Cassandra Wilson, and Marcus Miller are just some of his prominent artistic partners. As a studio and stage guest, Maret has enriched the music of other greats such as Prince, Sting, Elton John, Jimmy Scott, Dianne Reeves, Toots Thielemans, Richard Bona, Terri Lyne Carrington, Tito Puente, Kurt Elling, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Charlie Hunter, Youssn’Dour, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Pete Seeger, David Sanborn, and George Benson with his uniquely colorful playing.Cassandra Wilson says of him: "Wherever and whenever Grégoire Maret puts his instrument to his lips, he elevates all listeners to a higher plane with a sweet yet powerful intensity." Pat Metheny calls Maret "a unique musician who explores exciting new paths in jazz with the harmonica." From Marcus Miller's perspective, Maret "carries his instrument with skill, passion, and creativity into the 21st century," and Herbie Hancock simply calls him "one of the most creative musicians out there."