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  • Liberating Jazz Performers from Unconventional Paths

  • Gregoire Maret
    Celebrated musician and School of Jazz alumnus Grégoire Maret cultivates a new approach to improvisation

    Imagine a space where improvisation is a form of scholarship and nonconformity is considered a virtue. At the School of Jazz, part of the College of Performing Arts within The New School, renowned musician, faculty member, and School of Jazz alumnus, Grégoire Maret turns the classroom into that space. As an instructor, Maret encourages students to play together freely but with intent. It's an approach to teaching that helps musicians discover who they are as individuals and what they can bring to an ensemble. In this environment, tradition and legacy are respected but unconventionality is celebrated - just as it is throughout The New School. Maret says, “It doesn't matter what instrument you play. It's the groove, the improv, and the inexplicable feeling that make it jazz. You've got to find that, and it takes work.”

    The freedom to explore and rigorous training have opened the door to an impressive professional career for Maret, and now they're central to his syllabus. A pioneer of his craft, Maret plays the harmonica, an instrument uncommon in the music industry and rarer still in traditional jazz combos. Developing an atypical musical career has driven Maret to conquer stereotypes and prove himself to both legendary figures and contemporaries. He attributes his place in music history - including receiving a GRAMMY and winning the Jazz Journalists Association's Player of the Year Award - in part to the university that supported his passion and unconventional spirit when he was a student and  budding performer.

    Maret hopes to inspire his students as much as his New School mentors inspired him. He believes that helping young people be adventurous and  find their musical path is what teaching is all about. In turn, it is young musicians who are his main influences. “Through my students, I get to hear fresh voices. Considering current events, it's so important to listen and connect to others regardless of age or experience, and - to me - music speaks louder than words. And jazz is an uninhibited, honest, and raw conversation.”

    Maret stresses that unlike most conservatories, The New School encourages students to build a theoretical foundation and develop their creative practice while learning to speak about their art, navigate professional settings, and approach new types of music with an open mind. They embark on unique paths that connect their art and life in authentic and creative ways.

    Reflecting on the talent the school attracts and his excitement at rejoining the School of Jazz community, Maret says, “We encourage the bold, the exciting, the talented, and the new. I'm thrilled to be back.”

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