The pianist-composer-singer Grégory Privat, aged 39, was awarded the 2023 Django-Reinhardt prize, the highest distinction awarded by the Jazz Academy, during a ceremony organized Monday evening in Montrouge (Hauts- de-Seine). After the organist Eddy Louiss in 1964, the pianist Alain Jean-Marie in 1979 and the singer Cécile McLorin Salvant in 2017, Grégory Privat is the fourth West Indian musician, out of 71 laureates, to receive this distinction. “I didn’t expect to receive an award of this magnitude. When we decide to make music, it is not to receive prizes, and I am very, very moved and honored,” Grégory Privat, who last year published Phoenix, a record, told AFP. combining jazz, pop and Creole songs.

The Django-Reinhardt prize is the most prestigious of an Academy created in 1954. It rewards a French jazz musician who has distinguished himself over the past year, following the vote of a college of 81 members this year (journalists, writers, photographers, musicologists, programmers, presenters, club owners, etc.).

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During an evening held for the first time under the presidency of Jean-Michel Proust, who succeeded François Lacharme last year, the French Disk prize was awarded to pianist-conductor-arranger Laurent Cugny for Tentet Zeitgeist. The Jazz Academy grand prize, rewarding the best record of 2023, went to Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba and alto saxophonist Pierrick Pédron for their duo record Gazebo. The Évidence prize, distinguishing an exceptional new recording to emerge from anonymity, went to the trio of pianist Mark Priore for Initio. Swiss vocalist Andreas Schaerer won the European Musician prize and African-American singer Billy Valentine won the Blues-Soul-Gospel Artist prize for his covers album And the Universal Truth.

Since his appointment, Jean-Michel Proust – saxophonist, artistic director of the Jazz au Phare festivals on the Île de Ré and Montrouge Paris Guitar Festival – has wanted to “put the Academy back at the heart of its time”. “One of the axes was to modernize, rejuvenate and feminize the voting body,” he told AFP. This college now has 13 additional women, bringing their number to 15 out of 81 members. Another initiative: reducing the number of prizes from 11 to 7, “in order to give them more weight”.