In 2016, after experiencing some profound losses in her personal life and deciding to take a break from the road, Belgian born Helen Gillet began a new campaign of inviting some of her favorite musical collaborators to her adopted city of New Orleans. For the 2016 New Orleans Jazz Fest season, Gillet decided to form a quartet with drummer Nikki Glaspie (NYC), saxophonist Skerik (Seattle) and keyboardist Brian Haas (Santa Fe). In May 2016 Gillet hosted a house concert with long time collaborator Brian Haas on acoustic baby grand piano at which Nikki Glaspie and multi-instrumentalist Jessica Lurie (NYC) sat in, turning this duo into a collective improvisational group Gillet later named Tephra Sound. The success of this house show inspired Gillet to record the group's first album "Horizon" in March 2017 in her living room with sound engineer Andrew "Goat" Gilchrist (House of 1000 Hz). Other musicians on the album include Alex Mazza on trumpet, Rex Gregory on reeds and flute and Weedie Braimah on djembe. Tephra is a volcanic term referring to the combination of gases, minerals and rock found in the ash cloud after an eruption. With power house drummer Nikki Glaspie (Beyonce, Nth Power, Ivan Neville, Maceo Parker), Gillet's cello versatility and looped soundscapes, the creative compositional prowess of Jessica Lurie (Indigo Girls, Nels Cline, Fred Firth, John Zorn, Tiptons) and Brian Haas (Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Nolatet) the overarching sound explores phase shifting groove, wide dynamics and stylistic contrast.
"Helen Gillet is a restless musician always seeking out new musical partners and new sounds."
Jay Mazza - Vinyl District