Airelle Besson, the multi-award-winning jazz trumpeter, has been lighting up the European jazz scene for several years now at the head of her many projects: her quartet, her duo with Lionel Suarez and the Besson/Sternal/Burgwinkel trio.
Airelle Besson Quartet
Lynn Cassiers : Vocal
Benjamin Moussay : Piano, Fender Rhodes, bass synth
Fabrice Moreau : Drums
Airelle Besson : Trumpet, composition
Sebastian Sternal : Piano, Fender Rhodes
Jonas Burgwinkel : Drums
Airelle Besson : Trumpet
Airelle Besson/Lionel Suarez Duo
Lionel Suarez : Accordion
Airelle Besson : Trumpet
Trumpeter, composer and arranger Airelle Besson has made a name for herself on the European jazz scene with her clear, powerful playing, virtuoso but never demonstrative, at the service of emotion and musicality. Trained in both classical music and jazz, she says she is influenced by both Bach and Keith Jarrett. Winner of the Django Reinhardt Prize of the Académie du Jazz and the Victoires du Jazz in the category "French instrumental revelation of the year", Airelle Besson is as much a sought-after sideman as she is an established leader and composer.
A precocious musician
Born in Paris on 23 March 1978, Airelle Besson developed a passion for the trumpet at the age of four and waited until she was seven to start playing. In her teens, accompanied by her father, she opted for home schooling and put the study of music at the heart of her curriculum. In addition to the trumpet, she learned the violin and followed a dual training programme in classical music and jazz. After attending various conservatories, she studied musicology at the Université Paris-Sorbonne before entering the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, where she graduated with a first prize in jazz. It was during a course at the Cluny Jazz Festival (Jazz Campus en Clunisois) with the trumpeter Jean-François Canape that she made the definitive switch to this music.
Between electronics and acoustics
After graduating from the Conservatoire, Airelle Besson teamed up with saxophonist Sylvain Rifflet to form Rockingchair, a quintet with a rock and electronic edge. The group released two albums, Rockingchair (2007) and 1:1 (2011). In 2014, Airelle Besson transformed her long-standing friendship with guitarist Nelson Veras into a poetic acoustic duo with the album Prélude (Naïve Records). The album was a huge success and the two musicians toured internationally for several years.
Between small and big orchestras
In 2014, Airelle Besson formed her own quartet with Isabel Sörling (vocals), Benjamin Moussay (keyboards) and Fabrice Moreau (drums). Their debut album (Radio One, Naïve) has been well received by the press and public alike, and is a delight of strength, balance and clarity. All the melodic power of Airelle Besson's compositions and her talent for harmonising voices are elegantly displayed. Her second album, TRY! will be released on 5 February 2021. At the same time, Airelle Besson is devoting more and more time to composing and arranging. In 2014, the English band Metronomy asked her to do the arrangements for their album Love Letters. In 2020/21, she will be in residence at the Cité musicale-Metz, where she will work with the Orchestre National de Metz on a new programme combining classical music and jazz. She will also perform with the Big Band de l'Union de Woippy.
Throughout her career, Airelle Besson has played in groups led by others, most notably in Charlie Haden and Carla Bley's Liberation Music Orchestra in 2006. She has also played in duos with Vincent Ségal and Lionel Suarez, in a trio with German musicians Sebastien Sternal and Jonas Burgwinkel, and in Lionel Suarez's Quarteto Gardel with Vincent Segal and Minino Garay. In all these formations, as well as in her own groups, Airelle Besson stands out for her ability to say a lot in a few notes; in her playing, lightness and delicacy rise above classical rigour. Airelle Besson's style is one of the best that French jazz has to offer.