Jazz-based cellist, singer, composer and improviser Helen Gillet grew up in Belgium, Singapore, Chicago and Wisconsin. Performing her own eclectic mix of French, Contemporary Jazz, North Indian, Blues and Classical styles, Gillet has forged a path for the cello in the New Orleans music scene since her arrival in 2002, winning Best Female Performer (2014 Gambit Big Easy Awards), Best Mixed Bag (2012 Gambit Big Easy Awards) and Best Contemporary Jazz (2011 Gambit Big Easy Awards).
She has performed extensively across the United States and Western Europe. Beginning cello lessons at the age of nine, Gillet has taken her classical education all the way to a Master’s Degree (Beloit College ’00, Loyola University New Orleans ’04). Her training as an improviser began with North Indian Hindustani vocal ragas in 1998, which launched her into the worlds of free improvisation, jazz, funk, rock and French chansons. Gillet has performed at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Festival International (Lafayette, LA), Voodoo Festival, Copenhagen Jazz Festival and Hindsgavl Festival in Denmark, Mirano Oltre Festival in Italy, the Kennedy Center Center in Washington D.C. and MONA Mofo festival in Hobart, Tasmania.
Gillet has performed with countless musicians such as Cassandra Wilson, Kid Koala, Smokey Robinson, Nikki Glaspie (Beyonce, Dumpstafunk, Neville Brothers), John Popper (Blues Traveler), Members of Morphine with Jeremy Lyons, Wayne Horvitz, Allison Miller (Ani Difranco), James Singleton, Tastuya Nakatani, Caroline Davis, Skerik, Wardell Querzergue, Rob Cambre, Bill Summers, Arcade Fire, Michael Cerveris, Psychedelic Furs, Marco Benevento, Mark Southerland, Quintron, Luke Allen (Happy Talk Band), Tom McDermott, Tim Green, Wadada Leo Smith, Doug Garrison (Iguanas, Alex Chilton), Johnny Vidacovich, Clint Maedgen, Michael Zerang, John Boutte, Mars Williams, Mazz Swift, Mike Dillon, Brian Haas (Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey), Mat Maneri, Hamid Drake, Myshkin, Nicole Mitchell, Ken Vandermark, Michael Ray (Sun Ra), The Mardi Gras Indian Orchestra, Georg Graewe (AT), Kresten Osgood (DK), Tobias Delius (UK), Frank Gratkowski (DE), Paul Lytton (UK), Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (NO), Johannes Bauer (DE), Almut Kuehne (DE), Wilbert de Joode (NL), Els Vandeweyer (BE) and many others.
Wazozo – Newton Circus (2009) French Chansons with Greg Good (Guitar), Luke Brecthelsbauer (Harp), Daron Douglas (violin), Walt Mclemens (accordion), Bill Strickland (french horn) CD/DIGITAL
Running of the Bells (2011) Instrumental Trio with Tim Green (saxes), Doug Garrison (drums) CD/DIGITAL
Helen Gillet (2012) Solo looped cello & voice CD/DIGITAL
Ferdinand (2013) Instrumental Duo with James Singleton (bass) CD/DIGITAL
Bangkok Silver (2015) Solo looped cello & voice CD/DIGITAL
Dusk in Wallonia (2015) French Chansons with Greg Good (Guitar), Luke Brecthelsbauer (Harp and bagpipes), Daron Douglas (violin), Jon Gross (tuba), Doug Garrison (drums and Rex Gregory (sax, flute, clarinet, melodica) CD/DIGITAL Live at St. Louis Cathedral (2015) French Holiday Concert with Jason Marsalis (vibraphone), Rex Gregory (flute and clarinet), Luke Brechtelsbauer (harp) December 24th, 2015 DIGITAL ONLY The Wind Shakes Trees – Live at the Antieau Gallery (2016) Solo looped cello & voice VINYL ONLY Scheduled for release on April 12th, 2016.
In 2009, Gillet recorded the “experimental cello” part for George S. Clinton for Mike Judge’s Miramax Comedy film “Extract.” Gillet composed, performed and edited the music to the documentary films “Living with Hurricanes: Katrina & Beyond” and “Living with Water,” both part of a permanent exhibit at the Louisiana State Museum’s Presbytere on Jackson Square in New Orleans that includes Fats Domino’s wrecked piano.