Jean was ‘seized by the sound’ of the harpsichord when he was five years old, and spent ten years studying with renowned harpsichordist Blandine Verlet.
An unhappy affair with the piano ended up with him leaving the music school close to his home in Paris, which led to him meeting jazz pianist Sylvain Halévy. Halévy’s teaching method was a lot freer than the conservatoire environment which Jean had experienced, and in Jean’s own words, ‘when I discovered jazz and improvisation, they completely seduced me, and I’ve played jazz since then’.
This apparent double life of classical harpsichordist and jazz pianist isn’t so disparate as you might first think.
‘Jazz music and improvisation help me to reflect on my personal playing, and the things that link jazz and harpsichord are gestures.
‘Harpsichord music is notated, but there are still gestures. I’m interested in how to find sensations common to both kinds of music. These queries never reveal answers. They reveal more questions, which reveal more questions…’
Jean often plays his compositions with Note Forget, but believes that writing music has more than the end goal of being performed:
‘I like to write music, both jazz and for the harpsichord music. It’s not my main activity, but I think composition is very important in a musician’s life. I try to write music every day, but it’s not always music for being played.
‘Today, all music is written with a goal – this isn’t a good approach. If we think like this it’s like we’re always thinking in the future, and not the present. A good writer is always writing – there’s a reason he’s a good writer. He’s been writing since he was a child. He doesn’t do his studies in writing and suddenly get his diploma and get published!
‘That’s why I don’t always trust an academic approach to music. It’s more to do with nature, than with nurture.’