Helen Gillet discusses improvisation and the social aspect of making music in this week's podcast.

Cover image for Helen Gillet

On her previous album, The Running of the Bells, Helen Gillet performed with collaborators Tim Green and Doug Garrison, both part of New Orleans' undervalued improvised music community along with Gillet, who brings classic training in the cello to the act of making music. Recently, she released her self-titled third album this time, it's a solo album. It's more pop-oriented, which isn't to say it's pop. Many of the tracks are songs, though they're folk or chanson-based and sung in French, but even in that context she's inventing music in real time, exploring the relationships between the sounds she can coax out of her cello and those she makes with her voice. Still, she's working in a fundamentally listener-friendly mode. It's a stereotype that "improvised" equals "difficult;" even at Helen Gillet's most self-involved - "Run," "Rien Du Tout" - its easily heard, easily grasped and fundamentally lovely.

We met to talk about improvising and playing alone and with groups after one failed attempt at a meeting. As she was preparing to leave town for a few weeks, she set an aspirational schedule for herself that didn't quite work as planned. I only mention it because the conversation references that when we get started; she was sweetly and profoundly apologetic when the interview fell through, and I enjoyed the conversation we had a lot.