RISING STARS Jazz Award: Yessai Karapetian
Romantic, ferocious and bridge-building music
Yessaï Karapetian – born November 28, 1993, in Yerevan, Armenia – is a Paris-based composer, performer & multi-instrumentalist with an ambitiously wide approach to contemporary jazz, now set to present his debut solo project “YESSAÏ” in 2022. Raised in Marseille, Yessaï classically trained in piano and Armenian traditional flutes from the age of six and studied jazz as a teenager where he started composing for his first band, ONEFOOT.
In 2017, NextBop described him and his bandmates as trailblazers on crack for their debut album, “Mektonized”. Stylistically expensive, the production found the trio straddling the line between contemporary modern jazz, electronic music and Armenian traditions. Away from co-leading ONEFOOT, Yessaï moved from Marseille to study at the Conservatoire de Paris, and soon garnered the attention of award-winning saxophonist, Guillaume Perret, with whom he recorded two albums and toured all over the Old Continent. After graduating from the Conservatoire de Paris in 2019, Yessaï received a full tuition scholarship to Berklee College of Music, where he earned a Master’s degree of Music in Contemporary Performance (Global Jazz Institute) ten months later.
Under the watchful eye of musical mentors such as Danilo Perez, Joe Lovano, John Patitucci or Terri Lyne Carrington, the pianist won two DownBeat Student Music Awards – for Best Jazz Soloist and Best Original Composition – as well as the LetterOne RISING STAR Jazz Award 2021 awarded by Marcus Miller, out of more than 750 artists worldwide. Back to France, and after winning the Jazz à la Défense Competition in Paris, Armenian French bandleader created a crew to cut “YESSAÏ”, live at CBE Studio in Paris, straight to tape. Over the course of nine original compositions, Karapetian is riveting, playing with astonishing virtuosity and spirit. He is matched by a stellar band, anchored by bassist Marc Karapetian (the bandleader’s brother, himself a force, already member of ONEFOOT and recently recording and touring with Tigran Hamasyan), drummer Théo Moutou, guitarist Gabriel Gosse, and saxophonist Mounir Sefsouf. The group traces its roots back to the Paris Conservatory, and the camaraderie shows. “YESSAÏ” was released worldwide on January 28th, 2022 on Kyudo Records.