Support the new album by French guitarist Romain Pilon, featuring his trio and tenor saxophonists Ben Wendel and Walter Smith III


The project

jazz&people presents




The Magic Eye


Premier label de jazz participatif français, jazz&people vous invite à soutenir le nouvel album du guitariste Romain Pilon featuring les deux ténors américains Walter Smith III et Ben Wendel !




"The Magic Eye" is Romain Pilon’s third album as a leader, which he finished to record recently.


For this project, the guitar player alternates the trio and quintet format through a new set of seven originals and one rendition of "Fleurette Africaine" by Duke Ellington. With influences drown from many musical genres, the result is fresh, modern and connected to the developments founded in jazz in the recent years, between Paris and New York.


The trio : In the past five years, Romain has played extensively with Fred Pasqua (drums) and Yoni Zelnik (acoustic bas). They have found a singular, highly interactive, approach to the jazz guitar trio, allowing the leader to develop his introspective lyricism and elegant sense of phrasing.


Côté quintet : la rencontre excitante et explosive — inédite sur disque jusqu'à présent ! — de deux des ténors dont la cote grimpe en flèche dans le monde du jazz, Ben Wendel et Walter Smith III, sur une série de compositions conçues sur mesure pour mettre en évidence leurs styles respectifs. Jouant à la fois de leurs proximités de style et de leur sens de l'émulation, cette rencontre s'apparente à une version contemporaine de la tradition des chases à deux ténors, dans la lignée complice d'Al Cohn et Zoot Sims, Dexter Gordon et Wardell Gray ou Johnny Griffin et Lockjaw Davis, mais bien ancrée dans le XXIe siècle.


The quintet : an exciting and explosive meeting—for the first time ever on an album—of two of the most in-demand tenor players of our time, Ben Wendel and Walter Smith III. Joining the core trio on a series of compositions written to fit their respective styles and underlign their connections, Wendel and Smith deliver a modern version of the tenor chases a la Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray…


From hip-hop grooves to Brazilian feelings, from classic swing to more complex metrics… New York kind of urgency to pop folk reminiscences or a classic Duke Ellington ballad… Romain Pilon elaborates a musical suite with multiple references, intelligently assimilated. Deeply poetical, the compositions on this album are beautifully crafted and Romain’s playing is «world class» (Financial Times)


"Romain Pilon is a quick thinking player with an attractively warm, acoustic inspired tone… " Jazz Wise (UK)


Listen to the first samples taken from the album:

"The Magic Eye" featuring Ben Wendel and Walter Smith III

"Blooming" by the Romain Pilon Trio with Yoni Zelnik (bass) and Fred Pasqua (drums)



"The Magic Eye" by Romain Pilon

"During the last five years i’ve had the chance to play regularly with acoustic bass player Yoni Zelnik and drummer Fred Pasqua. Playing gigs and sessions, we have developed a special kind of connection and a sound I believe is our very own. I was really impatient to bring this trio to the studio and also thought it would be interesting to add two tenor saxophonists: Ben Wendel and Walter Smith III. I am a big fan of their playing, i knew they were friends and had worked a few times with them separately: I also liked the idea to have both on a record for the first time.

This album has been written over a quite long period of time, i tried to develop long forms, various textures and to get rid of any stylistic barriers. I’ve been inspired by places, moments, arts in general, people but mainly by the birth of my daughter.

Thanks in advance for your support on this project."





Described as "a guitarist with a fluid and demanding imagination" by the French magazine Jazz News, Romain Pilon is one of the faces of the new jazz breed from France. During his studies Romain was presented with three Berklee College music awards and in 2002 his quartet opened for Pat Metheny, representing the entire school guitar department of over 1000 students. A founding member of the Paris Jazz Underground collective, he came into the radar with the quartet he coleads with saxophonist David Prez. His "wonderful originality" (France Musique) was celebrated with the release of "NY3", a trio album recorded in 2011 in New York. In 2013, he reunited with his Berklee classmate, saxophonist Walter Smith III on the album Colorfield. Two years later, he is pairing with him again, along with saxophonist Ben Wendel.


Romain Pilon is a guitarist full of surprises. He has a flawless technique and a great harmonic sense. He is someone to keep an eye on. — Lionel Loueke


Romain is a monster. A big, scary monster. A killer... and he also sound pretty damn great. — Lage Lund





Mostly know as a regular member of the Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet and Eric Harland's band Voyager, Walter Smith III went first noticed for his contributions to drummer Roy Haynes' and trumpeter Terence Blanchard's band. Originally from Houston, a graduate from the same high school as Jason Moran and Robert Glasper, a member of the NEXT Collective, Walter Smith stands out, as any great saxophonist, by a very personal sound and a phrasing of a stunning rhythmic ease. He has released his fourth album, Still Casual, last September, and cosigned the album The Lafayette Suite with French pianist Laurent Coq released on jazz&people.



"A wide-open sensibility, about as tuned to Bach and Björk as Monk and Shorter" says The New York Times about this extraordinary saxophonist, who also performs on bassoon and melodica. A founding member of the band Kneebody, hailing from Los Angeles, Ben Wendel has taken part to many projects developped with pianist Tigran Hamasyan and revealed his sense of creativity with a duo album recorded with pianist Dan Tepfer. This year he has launched The Seasons, a project for which he has written twelve compositions (one for each month of the year) that he reveals one by one by performing them in duo with a guest musician (Eric Harland, Joshua Redman...) and sharing the video online.






"The Magic Eye" was recorded in December 2014 (trio tracks) and February 2015 (quintet tracks) at studios des Egreffins.


1. The Magic Eye

2. Blue Ming

3. Triptych (for Celeste)

4. Oxygen

5. Until We Meet Again

6. Jumping at Shadows

7. Tumble Weed

8. Fleurette Africaine


All compositions by Romain Pilon, except #8 by Duke Ellington



With Romain Pilon (guitar), Yoni Zelnik (double bass) and Fred Pasqua (drums) + Ben Wendel et Walter Smith III (tenor saxophone) on 1, 3, 4 et 7.


Photos and video by Pauline Pénicaud




Fred Pasqua, Romain PIlon, Yoni Zelnik, Walter Smith and Ben Wendel

Why fund it?

At this time, the album has been recorded and mixed. However, one final step needs to happen before this music sees the light. That's why we are in need of your support.


Developped by jazz journalist and exhibition curator Vincent Bessières, jazz&people is a breeding ground label that fosters projects by creative musicians and helps them grow relying on crowdfunding. This responsible approach favors a direct relationship between the artists and those who listen to them. This is the reason why we call upon your generosity.  

We are raising money to:

- master, manufacturate and distribute the album on CD and LP

- pay all of the people involved in the making of the album

- launch and market the album, notably by hiring a publicist


What will happen if we get more than 6000 euros at the end of this campaign ? Then we will have more means to better promote this music and make it more visible/audible. But if we do not reach our goal, we will not get a dime!


We offer many rewards that will allow you to help us achieve our goal according to your budget, from advance download of the music, physical CD with your name in the booklet to a private concert of Romain Pilon's trio or different packages of CDs pairing 'The Magic Eye' with Romain's past albums. In advance, we sincerely thank you for your interest and most of all, for your support.

Artists needs Us

But We need Artists the most.





jazz&people est une communauté active qui rassemble les amoureux du jazz autour de projets originaux portés par des musiciens créatifs qui font la richesse de la scène actuelle. Rejoignez-nous. Déjà parus : AWAKE "As We Fall" ; Pierre Perchaud, Nicolas Moreaux, Jorge Rossy, "FOX" ; Romain Pilon Trio + Ben Wendel & Walter Smith III "The Magic Eye"... See more

Newest comments

Romain, bravo ça déchire! Hâte d'entendre cette merveille! Bisous
Je vois que le montant visé est atteint. Mais je suis heureux de contribuer à ce beau projet musical.
Yeah Romain!!! Hâte d'écouter le disque. J'espère que tu vas bien. Ca fait longtemps qu'on s'est pas vu... bises, karl