October 02, 2020
Pianist/composer Sylvie Courvoisier, originally from Switzerland, has lived in Brooklyn for over 20 years. She has led several groups over the years, recorded 10 albums as a band leader, and appeared on about 55 albums for various labels (25 as co-leader and 30 as a side person), notably ECM, Tzadik and Intakt Records.
Here is our chat with Sylvie:
Can you pick out any favorites from your work that you're particularly proud of?
I just recorded a new album called FREE HOOPS with my Trio with Drew Gress and Kenny Wollesen, it was released in September on Intakt records.
David Breskin produced it, and I’m very excited about this new album! (BTW, Free Hoops is listed on Bandcamp's Best Jazz of September 2020 list, along with our friend Eric Revis. Audeze)
I really like also the previous trio recording D’AGALA,and my duo album with Mark Feldman TIME GONE OUT.
What's the best place for those new to your work to become familiar with what you do?
I’d say checking out some of my recordings :
- Trio albums: FREE HOOPS, D’AGALA (both on Intakt Records), DOUBLE WINDSOR, on Tzadik records
- Duo and Quartet albums with Mark Feldman: TIME GONE OUT and BIRDIES FOR LULU
- Trio recording for piano, violin and cello: ABATON on ECM Records
- Quintet recording: LONELYVILLE
- Solo recording: SIGNS AND EPIGRAMS
How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on?
I play the pianos on all my recordings.
I recorded 10 albums as a leader featuring my own compositions, and about 25 albums as a co-leader, featuring some of my compositions.
I’ve been probably on 30 albums as a side person, groups led by John Zorn, Ikue Mori, Wadada Leo Smith, Nate Wooley, Erik Friedlander, Mary Halvorson etc.
How did you get started in music?
My father is an amateur jazz/dixieland pianist, I started with him when I was about 4 years old, and started taking lessons when I was 6.
I never finished my classical conservatory, and I’ve been touring since I’m 22 years old.
Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?
Obstacles and frustrations are part of the journey of being a musician!
You just need deal with them, day by day, with patience and love.
Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?
I write at the piano, practice the piano, so piano is my main « gear ».
Paper and pencil: I do mostly write by hand, sometimes I import my music in a program called Sibelius.
Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire to get where you are in their own careers?
Patience, love for your art and also caring when you listen to music.
How long have you been working with headphones, and what inspired you to start including them in your workflow?
I’ve been working with headphones since a kid, listening to music in my bedroom.
I have been using headphones daily, at home, in recording sessions, for mixing, editing, mastering ….
These headphones are just amazing…
I’ve never thought that cans could sound so great, all the details are so clear and vivid; they are also super comfortable, you don’t get tired of wearing them for a long time.
Thank you so much for having me discover these.
The project I’ve been mixing and editing using these headphones is my new Trio album « FREE HOOPS » with Drew Gress and Kenny Wollesen, produced by David Breskin.
Thanks to these headphones, I’ve also been re-listening to all my favorite albums lately with new ears.