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Helen Gillete

August 13 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm


Sessions at McPike Park has scheduled an ambitious series of concerts this summer. Although only the jazz events are listed on this calendar, all the acts are worth checking out.


  • AUGUST 12, 13, 14
  • AUGUST 18, 19

Cellist, singer, composer and improviser, Helen Gillet grew up in a musical household.  Her father’s Belgian family often sang songs around several guitars or a piano, her father improvised medleys of classical and jazz on the piano while her mother played classical clarinet and piano.   Gillet was born in Belgium but raised in Singapore, Chicago and Wisconsin before landing in her adopted home of New Orleans in 2002.  Gillet has a Bachelor’s Degree in both Music & Anthropology and a Master’s Degree in Music (Beloit College ’00, Loyola University New Orleans ’04).  Her training as an improviser began with North Indian Hindustani cellist Nancy Lesh in 1998, launching her into the worlds of free improvisation, jazz, funk, rock and song writing.  She has a deep love for French Chansons and the work of Belgian poet Julos Beaucarne.  Gillet has performed at a wide array of venues all over the world including New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Festival International (Lafayette, LA), Voodoo Festival, Copenhagen Jazz Festival and Hindsgavl Festival in Denmark, Nikodemuskirche Festival in Berlin, Mirano Oltre Festival in Italy, the Kennedy Center Center in Washington D.C. and MONA Mofo festival in Hobart, Tasmania and Darwin Music Festival in Australia, and her recent performance at the Lincoln Center in July of 2019.

Helen Gillet is a sought after recording artist, performer and composer in New Orleans.  She has recorded on projects by musicians Wardell Querzergue, Arcade Fire, Kid Koala, Fermin, Cassandra Wilson, Dr. John, Marianne Faithful, Harold Brown, Danny Brilliant, Bill Summers… Her original score work to Katrina & Beyond and Living with Water plays above Fats Domino’s wrecked piano as part of a permanent exhibit at the Louisiana State Museum. Helen Gillet is currently featured in the Jazz exhibit at the Old US Mint in New Orleans.  She has recorded and composed music for feature-length and short documentary films.  In the fall of 2018 she toured across the US and Canada with Iron & Wine.

Helen Gillet is a self-made artist, having produced and put out her own recordings since 2009.  Her two albums of French Chansons called: Newton Circus (2009) and Dusk in Wallonia (2015), as well as her progressive Jazz Trio, Running of the Bells (2011) w/ drummer Doug Garrison (Alex Chilton, Iguanas) and Tim Green (Cool and the Gang, Peter Gabriel) were recorded with engineer Mark Bingham in Lafayette and New Orleans, LA.  Her Improvised duo album w/ bassist James Singleton (James Booker, Astral Project): Ferdinand (2013) and her latest jazz project Tephra Sound: Horizon (2017) featuring drummer Nikki Glaspie (Beyoncé, Parliament Funkadelic) were recorded by engineer Andrew “Goat” Gilchrist in New Orleans.  Her self-entitled debut solo album, came out in 2012, followed by Bangkok Silver (2015), both recorded by engineer Chad Meise in Kansas City, MO.  The Wind Shakes the Trees – LP (2016), and Helkiase, inspired by Notre Dame à la Rose Hospital in Lessines, Belgium are both live albums recorded at the Antieau Gallery and the House of 1000HZ in New Orleans.

Helkiase features Gillet’s songs: “Slow Drag Pavageau” a tribute to New Orleans’ bassist and instrument maker Alcide Pavageau and “Vautour,” a song commissioned by Israeli artist Naama Tsabar in 2017.  In addition to singing and playing cello w/ live loops, Gillet also uses Moog synthesizer, Steiner Electronic Valve Instrument, a 7” single of a 1940’s speech by General de Gaule, and a TR-9 Roland drum machine.


August 13
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm


The Sessions at McPike Park
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Madison McPike Park
202 S Ingersoll St
Madison, Wi
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