Compagnie Impérial
The musicians

The musicians

Antonin Leymarie


Antonin Leymarie is a drummer on stage, in the ring, and on the road.

His music is bold and edgy yet playful.

Playing on a wire with the Surnatural Orchestra, for the Colporteurs circus troop, or with Compagnie Impérial, he also composes and produces for theatre, working with Joël Pommerat’s Louis Brouillard company. He takes pleasure in surrounding himself with individuals who are perpetually in motion – it is his way of sharing his music with the world.

Damien Sabatier

baryton, alto and sopranino saxophones

Sabatier started playing the alto saxophone at the age of 7, developing his style on the baritone and sopranino. He graduated with a classical degree from the ENMD in Valence in 1996 where he studied under J-P Bouvatier. He obtained a DEUG (university diploma) in musicology from Lyon 2 University, and a DEM (higher music diploma) in jazz at the CNR in Lyon.

During his studies, he came into contact with musicians such as Jean-Marc Padovani, Willem Breuker, Denis Badault, Michel Massot, Laurent Dehors, and Louis Sclavis. Starting out in the street with Gérald Chevillon, and establishing the “Achille Blick ” trio with him, he then met Etienne Roche with whom he has been working since the 90s on projects including “Grotorkestre”, “Besace”, “Kousmine Pichon”, and ” Musicabrass”.

Since 2002, he has been working on a regular basis with Laurent Dehors in the “Tous Dehors” orchestra.

Gérald Chevillon

bass, tenor and soprano saxophones

For over 20 years, from the moment he founded the Achille Blick trio up to establishing Compagnie Impérial, he has been wholeheartedly pursuing his study of the saxophone, in particular with long-term ally Damien Sabatier.

Classical musician turned improviser, he takes great delight in reinventing forms of self-expression on his instruments and searching for new ways of playing, new collaborations with other artists and with the audience – in projects where commitment, mutual understanding, and a spirit of invention are, for Chevillon, the markers of a successful musical encounter.

Joachim Florent


A remarkable and uncompromising musician, his adventurous nature and love of improvisation has led him to collaborate with Finnish musicians such as Aki Rissanen, Mandika musicians with Impérial Pulsar, and even contemporary quartet Quatuor Bela.

He has recently been involved in Marc Ducret’s and François Corneloup’s latest projects, as well as transatlantic network “the bridge”. He receives regular invitations to give solo performances, and in 2016 released his first solo double bass record “After Science”.

A permeation of styles and the exploration of new sounds on his instrument are at the heart of his work.

Aki Rissanen


Pianist Aki Rissanen quickly climbed to the top of the Finnish jazz scene. Over the last few years he has also made a name for himself on the international scene, in particular as leader of his trio, Éponyme. He comes from a classical piano background but has always felt drawn to jazz and improvised music: after 12 years of classical training he turned his attention to learning jazz and improvised music, studying at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique in Paris, and taking individual lessons in New York and Cologne. In 2009, after 7 years of studying jazz piano and composition, he left the Sibelius Academy jazz department with an MA under his belt. Among his teachers were Jarmo Savolainen, Jukkis Uotila, Kirmo Lintinen, John Taylor, Jim Beard, Riccardo del Fra, and Hervé Sellin.

Aymeric Avice

trumpet, bugle

Aymeric Avice was born in Cherbourg in 1982. He started playing the trumpet aged 6, and the drums at 15. He arrived in Paris in 1999 and studied at the Sorbonne, at conservatoires in the 10th and 20th districts, before joining the jazz department at the CNSM in 2003, graduating in 2006 with a ‘premier prix’ (distinction) in jazz. In 2004 he won the “Selmer” soloist award at the St Germain des Prés “Esprit jazz ” young talent competition, and in 2007 took 1st and 2nd group awards with Radiation 10 & Jean Louis, a trio he formed with Joachim Florent and Francesco Pastacaldi.

Aymeric has played with Magma, Dave Liebman, Simon Goubert, Bruno Ruder, Riccardo del Fra, Steve Mac Craven, Sonny Murray, and les Chevals. He is currently performing with Fidel Fourneyron’s “Que Vola” project and Olivier Lété’s “Lon”, has established his own group, the “Jawara Project” in collaboration with Daunik Lazro, and works regularly with Sylvain Kassap and Guillaume Orti.

Fred Roudet

trumpet, bugle

He started playing the trumpet at music school, at the age of 6. 
At 18 years old, he performed his military service in the ‘Musique Régionale’, then experimented with new and world music before discovering jazz and meeting Gérard Maimone and Jean Cohen.

He followed the Tribu Hérisson adventure, joining ARFI’s Marmite Infernale in 2006. In 2008, he met Michel Laubu and Lyon-based object theatre company Turak Theatre, continuing to work with them until 2015, collaborating on five shows that went on tour several times in France and abroad. At the same time, he also plays on a regular basis with Réseau I-MuZZic run by Bruno Tocanne, and has played on several quintet and tentet recordings, meeting Elodie Pasquier who he invited to join his group “Mona”. Since 2012, he has been playing with the “Possible(s) Quartet” and the “Over the Hills” nonet.


Simon Girard


Simon Girard was born in 1985 in Chalon sur Saône. He began playing music at 3 years old, starting on the drums, then discovered the trombone at the age of 7. He studied classical music and obtained a DEM (higher musical diploma) at the Dijon Conservatoire in 2007. Drawn to improvisation, he took Phil Abraham’s classes at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, then studied at the Basel Conservatory with Adrian Mears.

He has since set himself up in Lyon, playing with Franck Tortiller as well as numerous big bands such as the Luzern Jazz Orchestra, the Zurich Jazz Orchestra, the Keystone Big Band, the Chalon Bourgogne Big Band, and Bigre, and bringing his sound and energy to groups such as Magnetband, François Corneloup’s latest project, and as leader of his own project, Krom.


Sébastien Fink


Spanning all genres, Sébastien Finck inhabits his own unique experimental planet. Trained in classical percussion and electro-acoustic composition at the CNR in LYON, and in drums and Cuban and African percussion at the ENM in Villeurbanne, he is a vocalist, sound creator, and also full-time basketball player.
His view of the creative process is of something that comes to life between two beings, on that line where the two meet and where you can no longer tell which side you are on. The spectrum of his musical experience is as wide as his musical ear is inquisitive: from improvised music (Myope), world music (Mazalda, Le Grand Bal des cousins) , to rock and marching bands (Coquine, Quelques fiers Mongols, les Blondettes, la Subienda); soul garage (Buttshakers, Mr Day), with a touch of Sega (Ban Peters, Les Pythons de la Fournaise), from Akram Chaïb’s Infernal Biguine to opera from Compagnie Justiniana, jazz (Impérial Orphéon) with a hint of unearthly poetry, manga tales during the day and hip hop/dub/noise at night (La sainte Affliction, Craque, Rature), a smattering of galactic soundscapes (Direction Survet ) – in storytelling, you would say that he travels through worlds – as he would say, ‘as free in life as when I walk in the forest’.


Oumarou Bambara

djembe, tamani, balafon

Originally from Burkina Faso, Oumarou Bambara is a musician, composer, and arranger. He plays the balafon, djembe, n’goni, dundun, bara, and tama. Throughout the years – creating the group Kankélé Groove with Cédric Yenk, working on projects with other artists such as the Oumarou Trio with Seyba Sissoko and the Cabaret Foly with other musicians from Burkina Faso, and more recently Un jour, un conte… with Joelle Iffrig – Oumarou Bambara has proved himself to be a hugely versatile musician whilst always managing to maintain his own style.


Ibrahima Diabaté

dundun, tamani, goni

Of Khassonke ethnicity, the youngest in one of the oldest and most respected griot families in Mali, Ibrahima Diabaté, known as Bourama, learned to play the tambour like most people learn to talk. He excelled very early on with a natural talent for the dundun, an instrument considered to be fundamental to rhythm in Mandinka countries.

In 1991, he joined the Mali National Ballet, where he developed a modern and innovative way of playing. A favourite of the leading lights of the Malian vocal scene such as Kandia Kouyaté, Dédé Kouyaté, and Tata Bambo, he became their preferred accompanist. This led to a dizzying rise to fame for Ibrahima, who has set the standard for a new generation of musicians who take inspiration from his playing style and his phrasing.


Yoann Coste

sound engineer

Yoann Coste is the sound engineer of all Compagnie Impérial projects.


Martin Antiphon

sound engineer

Sound engineer, producer, and musician (bass, guitar), Martin Antiphon left his job as sound assistant at the IRCAM in 2010 and became studio manager for Music Unit. He still works as a sound engineer in an independent capacity – working for the IRCAM, trumpetist Ibrahim Maalouf, and even with Compagnie Impérial – and works as sound engineer and producer for Music Unit.


Alex Flory

sound engineer

Alexandre Flory, a sound engineer with his own travelling studio, Nomad Record, has recorded albums for Impérial 4tet, Impérial Orphéon, Radio Kayes, and Grand Carnaval. He also travelled to Burkina Faso with Compagnie Impérial in 2013.