Yessaï Karapetian – born November 28, 1993, in Yerevan, Armenia – is a composer, performer and multi-instrumentalist with an ambitiously wide approach to contemporary jazz. Living between Paris, New York and Yerevan, he embraces with sensitivity and virtuosity all the facets that compose his identity: resonances of his Armenian roots and African-American cultures, and French impressionist piano crossing avant-garde universes from Thom Yorke or James Blake.
His new quintet, composed of his brother Marc Karapetian on bass (touring member of Tigran Hamasyan) and drummer David Paycha, also welcomes Norayr Gapoyan on duduk and Avag Margaryan on blul, two virtuoso soloists who have toured and recorded with the famous Gurdjieff Ensemble and with Dhafer Youssef. Together, the band escapes from any idea of folklorism or fusion and explores the connections between contemporary jazz and the new possibilities offered by the richest Armenian conception of ornamentation.
– NEWS –
Talent Jazz Adami selected 2023 – On tour with
Terri Lyne Carrington
Jazz Ahead 2023
NEW QUINTET – MONTREAL JAZZ FESTIVAL
OPENING FOR SNARKY PUPPY
Raised in the South of France (Marseille), Yessaï classically trained in piano and Armenian traditional flutes from the age of six, then studied jazz as a teenager and started composing for his first band. He regularly attended the “Marseille Jazz des Cinq Continents”, and at this international festival he met two determining figures: Tigran Hamasyan, who encouraged him to pursue his piano studies; and a couple of years later Erik Truffaz, who noticed him during a workshop and introduced him to his first professional entourage.
Yessaï moved from Marseille to study at the Paris Conservatory and soon garnered the attention of award-winning saxophonist Guillaume Perret, with whom he recorded two albums and toured all over Europe. Meanwhile, he was highly noticed as one of the most promising musicians of the French scene as the co-leader of Onefoot − a pioneer of French jazz new wave.
After graduating from the Paris Conservatory in 2019, Yessaï received a full-tuition scholarship to Berklee College of Music (Boston, USA). Ten months later he earned a Master’s degree of Music in Contemporary Performance (Global Jazz Institute). Under the watchful eye of musical mentors such as Danilo Perez, Joe Lovano, John Patitucci and Terri Lyne Carrington, the pianist won two DownBeat Student Music Awards – for Best Jazz Soloist and Best Original Composition – as well as the Letter One Rising Star Jazz Award 2022 awarded by Marcus Miller, out of 750 artists worldwide.
Back in France, Yessaï won the national jazz contest of La Défense and created a band to play “Yessaï” live at CBE Studio in Paris and cut it straight to tape. Released in 2022, the album received a warm welcome. The band toured in major prescriptive, international jazz festivals − such as Love Supreme (London), Nice Jazz Festival, Jazz à Vienne, Jazzopen Stuttgart, Winter Jazz Festival NYC, Kongsberg Jazz Festival − and opened for Gerald Clayton, Ben Wendel and Herbie Hancock.
In 2023, Yessaï received the French Talents Adami Jazz Award and was commissioned to create a special trio, with Marc Karapetian on bass and his mentor Terri Lyne Carrington on drums (Grammy Award 2023 for the best jazz instrumental album). Together they will perform at the three biggest French festivals: Jazz Sous les Pommiers, Jazz à Vienne and Jazz à la Villette, Paris. Yessaï has also just released his first solo piano album, entitled Ker U Sus, on Paradis improvisés collection. In the words of Radio France: “Yessaï’s music, in an ultimate will of honesty, is beautiful, complex, colorful and he has achieved to reduce it to its most sincere expression.”
– LINE-UP –
Yessaï Karapetian (piano)
Norayr GAPOYAN (duduk)
Avag MARGARYAN (blul)
Marc KARAPETIAN (basse)
David PAYCHA (drums)