Achille Gajo


After a lengthy musical career in Rome and Milan, Achille has become part of jazz scene in Paris since 1996.  His debut album as a lead in 1995 is titled  “Song for My Brother.”  His position as musical director of  “Les Cultures” in Italy led to his second recording “Estrada” with a world music focus.  In addition to his performance career in Paris, Achille is also active in the musical happenings “Banlieues Bleues” with William Parker, Dean Bowman, Leena Conquest and Eric Mingus.   He has played with Francesco Manzoni, Steve Potts, John Betsch, Jean-Jacques Avenel, Sylvia Howard and Oumou Sangare. 

Jean-Jacques Avenel

French born Jean-Jacques’ professional debut was in 1972.  He has been a member of Steve Lacy’s group since 1981 with whom he recorded more than 20 CDs including “The Door,” “Morning Joy,” “The Window” and “The Condor.”  Recent releases with Steve Lacy are “Monk’s Dream” and “One More Time” with Mal Waldron.  He has also recorded with Butch Morris, Jean-Louis Méchali Quartet, Frank Wright’s Quartet, Steve Potts, and a solo album “Éclaircie.”  Jean-Jacques has played with Don Cherry, Richard Galliano, George Lewis, David Murray, Pharoah Sanders, and Archie Shepp. 


John Betsch

John started his musical career in 1963 with Louis Smith and Bob Homes.   A student of Max Roach at UMASS, he subsequently moved to New York City in 1975 where he played with Dewey Redman, Jeanne Lee, and Abbey Lincoln in Europe.  He has toured with Abdullah Ibrahim, Klaus Konig, Steve Lacy, Eric Watson and Michel Sardaby.  Since moving to Paris in 1985, he participated in recordings such as “Revenue” and “Monk’s Dream” with Steve Lacy and in “No More Tears” and “Live at Utopia Vol. I & II” with Mal Waldron.  He has also recorded with Jim Pepper, Abdullah Ibrahim, Alain Jean-Marie, and Archie Shepp. 




“Gajo provides the ingredients of a very pleasant date; Avenel and Betsch add the musical spices that make it more savory."

- OnefinalNote – David Dupont 3/04


"We can hear the fruits of decades of jazz piano from Paul Bley, Keith Jarret, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Dollar Brand and Carla Bley.  Gajo has ideas that are very spontaneous and in the moment, and he takes the lessons from these elders to develop something close to his own vitality. "

- Musica Jazz – Giuseppe Piacentino 2/04


 "Gajo establishes himself as a complete player, extraordinarily sensitive with an excellent technique and a bluesy touch that is between Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson." 

- JazzIT – Giacomoi Rossi 1/04


"Blue Sand is certainly one of the finest trio albums of the year. Everything about this album is first-class. "

"Gajo is a major new talent, and if he can keep this excellent trio together, we can expect masterpieces from him in the future. " -  Joshua Weiner 11/03


"From the first note of The Window to the splash at the end of the last track, this group settles in to a feeling sorely lacking in most jazz recordings today: total sympathy, respect and love with musical nuance and élan."

"I defy anyone who listens to this disc not to want to immediately listen to it again and again and again - it's that good." -  Dr. Thomas Erdmann 11/03


"Gajo favors the sort of cleaning-sounding pianism one associates with Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Ahmad Jamal and Michel Petrucciani. Gajo is a poetic, introspective sort of player—an approach that serves him well…

- All Music Guide - Alex Henderson 11/03


"Many elements of this album are a pleasure to listen to, and the recording by this piano trio is highly recommended."

- Sunny Side   9/03   Japan


"Bassist Jean Jacques Avenel, with whom Gajo often tours, and drummer John Betsch present a highly sophisticated and elegant performance."

- Jazzyell  Vol. 56  8,9/03  Japan


July 28, 2007

Dear Achille:

It took me more than two years to acknowledge the fact that you have left this world to a better place.  There was no closure when your tragic death came so suddenly.   I lost a friend, a source of inspiration and many unrealized dreams.  I will always remember your energy, your optimism and the bright smile on your face.

Achille, take me to Africa, with your heart, your soul and your music

I want to hear the sound of the wind

I want to smell the wilderness, the beasts running through the field

I want to see the color of Africa

Achille, bring Africa to me, with your energy, your fire and the tremble of your music

I want to feel the violent storm sweeping through the land

I want to touch the fleeting sand stirring up from down below

I want to immerse in the echoes of the ancient gods and goddess above

Achille, take me to Africa, with your dream, your hope and your smile

I want to sing along with the freedom of the people in Africa

I want to taste the warm rain that softly fallen onto the ground

I want to touch the sweat that quietly and gently dripping into the sunset  - 2003