Jean-Luc Guionnet is an elusive figure. A Parisian artist active in many fields (music, visual arts, cinema), he has mostly worked in electro-acoustics but also has a career in free improvisation, playing alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, church organ, and piano. He has collaborated with Éric La Casa, Éric Cordier, and André Almuro on tape music. His main free improv and jazz projects include Hubbub, Schams, Return of the New Thing, and the Joe Rosenberg quintet.
Guionnet made scientific studies before shifting to fine arts. He studied musique concrete under Iannis Xenakis and Michel Zbar, but also pursued studies in philosophy (esthetics) with Geneviève Clancy. His first works date from the late '80s and are mostly collaborations with filmmaker André Almuro (some have been issued by Ground Fault). Then came a lasting partnership with electro-acousticians Éric Cordier and Éric La Casa. Together they wrote the series "Afflux." Guionnet also produces the Ateliers de Création Radiophoniques ("creative radio workshops") for France Culture. His eclecticism has kept him at bay of recognition -- because to the eye of the press it strips him from some credibility and because running careers in philosophy (he was co-director for the review Terre des Signes from 1993 to 1996), painting (he exhibited from 1992 to 1997), and music simultaneously tends to be time-consuming.
The release of an eponymous CD by Dan Warburton's free jazz quartet Return of the New Thing in 1999 on the respected label Leo Records introduced Guionnet to a wider audience. Since then his activities as an improviser have constantly stretched toward the fringes of experimentalism. His participation in the French-Swiss group Hubbub and his duo with guitarist Olivier Benoit (&Un, 2002) follow the school of Berlin reductionism.