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#JazzPortraits: Laurent Coulondre, the young keyboard wizard

  • 21.02.2020

Laurent Coulondre, a young pianist from Vauvert, France, backed by the BNP Paribas Foundation, recently received critical and public acclaim. He won a Victoire du Jazz award in 2016 and, just recently, the award for "French Record of the Year" from the Académie du Jazz for Michel on My Mind. Moreover Jazz Magazine named him "French Musician of the Year” and featured him on their February 2020 cover. In a duet or a trio, as leader or sideman, alongside other great musicians, a French jazz star is on the rise!

A meteoric ascension  

Gifted with an unmatched sense of rhythm and harmony, Laurent Coulondre is an extraordinarily musical, skilful and sensitive keyboard player with an admirable personality. He is equally an outstanding composer who ceaselessly steers music into uncharted territory, whether in a trio or a duo. 

Laurent Coulondre burst onto the scene in 2015. He already had three trio albums to his credit, including the famous Schizophrenia, a new reversible trio concept in which he plays both the piano and the organ. He embodies a talented, uninhibited generation blazing new trails in French jazz. For example, in 2017, as half of the duo Keys and Drums he recorded Gravity Zero, which took us to the limits of experimentation. For that album, he asked France’s top drummers—the indestructible André Ceccarelli, Martin Wangermée, Yoann Serra and Cyril Atef—to brew a clever mix of jazz rock and groove with a contemporary approach sounding almost electronic. Since then, the keyboard wizard has performed at the biggest national and international festivals.

Laurent Coulondre, Schizophrenia - "Sunny Road Trip".

“Michel on My Mind”, a tribute to Michel Petrucciani

In 2019, the young pianist paid tribute to one of the musicians who left the deepest mark on his career as a jazz musician: Michel Petrucciani. To mark the 20th anniversary of his passing, he asked Jérémy Bruyère (double bass) and André Ceccarelli (drums) to revive the glass bone pianist’s repertoire on a tribute album imbued with the creativity and fighting spirit that the maestro Petrucciani displayed throughout his life. The album is proof, if any were needed, that jazz is a language he entirely commands with his masterful hands. 

Released in August 2019, Michel on My Mind reflects sublime intergenerational harmony between modernity and tradition, combining lush, warm sounds and subtle, volcanic beats.

Prospects & sharing 

The BNP Paribas Foundation’s support will enable Laurent Coulondre to continue carrying out projects that have been close to his heart for some time. Among other things, he is preparing a solo album that will allow him to showcase his talents on piano, keyboard and organ, an instrument he particularly likes.

He also plans to reunite the original trio made up of musicians who played with Mr. Petrucciani, including Steve Gadd, Anthony Jackson, Lenny White, Joe Lovano, Flavio Boltro and Stefano di Battista, for an international tour to showcase French jazz. Lastly, thanks to the Foundation’s support, Laurent Coulondre would like to develop the "Hits Recycled" project, which would feature jazz musicians' battles covering pop hits in their own style. 

Meanwhile, he continues sharing his passion for jazz by working at the Centre des Musiques Didier Lockwood, teaching jazz piano at the École Supérieure de Musique de Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and giving master classes.

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Photo credit ©Marc Ribes

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