Guillaume Vierset

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Guillaume Vierset’s tousled hair-do can regularly be seen on stage at various jazz festivals and events, either leading his LG Jazz Collective or Harvest, or performing alongside others, such as in the Bravo Big Band or Thomas Champagne, or with the singer Thyph Barrow. He is also often found in the crowd, avidly listening to his contemporaries. Always ready to learn, always careful about the right sound, attentive to highlighting the sidemen, Guillaume Vierset is very harsh with himself and his music, having difficulty putting himself forward, even in the LG Jazz Collective of which he is the leader, composer and arranger. Yet the crowd is always left wanting to hear more of the fluid sound of his 60s Gibson 335 and his ingenious phrasing. “I don’t need to be put in the spotlight,” he asserts. “I like leaving room for all the musicians. Even if I am the leader, I like there to be a group spirit.”

His passion is composing. One could even say it’s his need. He composed from an early age, starting at the age of 15-16 for his rock group. “This need to compose is maybe the need to find my personality. When the piece is complete, it resembles me, it brings out what I am. And I need to find it on paper. An improvisation disappears, it doesn’t last. Music on paper does though. And then I can move on to something else.”

With LG Jazz Collective, Guillaume Vierset has recorded two albums, New Feel in 2015 and Strange Deal in 2018. Rich sounds and simple yet implacable melodies that stay in your ears. Guillaume Vierset is a consummate jazz songwriter.

I think in terms of songs,” he explains. “I like the Beatles, the melodic aspect of the songwriters.” He also pays homage to the atmosphere of his idols, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Neil Young, Nick Drake and Elliott Smith, with his group Harvest, where a cello slips in between the guitar and the sax. The album is soberly entitled Songwriter. It offers a curious, soft and subtle journey over rivers that are at one moment slow, the next surging, from the visions of great travellers such as Young and Drake. A second album has been announced, that will be more influenced by folk music with a journey to the United States with his friends bassist Félix Zurstrassen and drummer Antoine Pierre.

I want to do a lot of things,” he says. “I don’t know if I will have enough time in one life. I am influenced by plenty of music, but I like modern jazz and folk music. Jazz is the music I prefer to play. But I also listen to the Beatles, the Who, Neil Young, and Nick Drake obviously. My head is full of music and my heart is full of desires.”

The guitar he uses most often is his Gibson 335. But he has kept his first acoustic guitar, bought for him by his father who played country. And he still has a reproduction of an old Fender, to play pop music, and a guitar that used to belong to the stringed-instrument maker, Viktor Baker, “the same as the one belonging to the Israeli guitarist Gilad Hekselman,” he says with quite a proud smile. In the beginning, Guillaume was an avid player of rock music. “I was crazy about the Beatles and Pink Floyd. Very soon I wanted to create a rock-folk group where I played long improvised solos. Then my guitar teacher, Alain Pierre, made me listen to Keith Jarrett, Miles Davis and Wes Montgomery. And I knew that that was what I wanted to play.” He gained his experience with the group Green Dolphins, which played an incredible amount of standards, and also in jam sessions: “At the time, there was a way of playing every evening, now, it’s less possible.” That’s where he learnt. And it’s from there that his love of songs and melodies came.

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