Jazz In Brussels
Jazz In Brussels - History Of Jazz In Belgium
Jean Moeremans was one of the foremost
The time before jazz developed was recognized as an individual style (1850–1900) and is now commonly knownas the Pre-Jazz period. In this period of the Minstrels, the end of the 19th century, the first recording techniques emerged, which was very important for jazz and for music in general. In 1877 Thomas Alva Edison developed the phonograph, which one year later was presented at an exposition in Brussels, in the 'Panopcticum de Monsieur Castan'. Belgium, however, had no recording studios of its own and therefore the spread of pre-jazz music for a long time (until after the First World War) relied on foreign record labels such as "Colombia", "Zonophone" and "Favorite".
Another invention which to a large extent contributed to the development of jazz music was Adolphe Sax's new instrument. By 1890 saxophones in the United States were made by the Conn and Buescher companies, and Belgian virtuoso saxophonists such as Jean Moermans of Sousa's Orchestra ensured the growing popularity of the instrument. The saxophone quickly became the symbol of a new music genre that emerged gradually by the end of the 19th century. Belgian musicians were among the first to make recordings of saxophone solos in America. Eugene Coffin, for example, made recordings on wax cylinders (1895–1896) and Jean Moermans on gramophone record in Washington D.C. (1897).
In 1881, the first American minstrel show was staged in Belgium.[ It was followed, over the years, by similar shows and performance.
.By 1900, Belgian music lovers had become acquainted with several American brass bands, the most famous of them being John Philip Sousa's orchestra. They played marches, symphonies, as well as "Cakewalks" and "Ragtimes", both characterized by syncopated rhythms. The Belgian composer Louis Fremaux followed in their footsteps and made a cakewalk composition entitled "Bruxelles Cake-Walk".
Jean H. B. Moeremans (18?? - ca 1937) was a Belgian saxophone and flute player who is known for creating the first ever saxophone solo grammophone record in 1897. This little piece was created two years later on a Berliner 7 inch (0607).
The 1960s saw the emergence of free jazz in the United States and the rise of the supremacy of rock. The popularity of jazz music after the golden days of swing was waning everywhere and now seemed to eclipse in favor of more danceable popular music. Most people did not like to hear bebop or freejazz, and jazz had become the music of a few insiders. Not only was the audience for jazz shrinking, but it also lost young jazz musicians who in previous periods had taken initiative, and now were more attracted to pop. Of course, besides showing interest in free jazz (also called "New Thing"), most Belgian musicians continued to play the older styles (New Orleans was especially popular in Flanders) and bebop (cool jazz included), while mainstream swing was still in demand.
Apart from Fred Van Hove (piano), Babs Robert (alt sax), José Bedeur and some others, the Belgian jazz musicians did not really participate in free jazz, which had more followers in Germany and the Netherlands. The orchestra of the RTB disappeared in 1965, but was taken over by that of the BRT, led by Etienne Verschueren. In the absence of employment in Belgium a lot of musicians were associated with orchestras abroad. Jacques Pelzer worked in Italy, touring with Chet Baker; Toots Thielemans worked in Germany and Sweden, composed his hit Bluesette, and then returned to the U.S. in 1964; René Thomas set up a new quartet with Jaspar, played with Pelzer and Lee Konitz at European festivals, before falling back into a lean period in 1966.
Still, despite these tough times for jazz, a few young musicians managed to get noticed: Jean-Pierre Gebler (bariton sax), Robert Graham (guitar), Marc Moulin (piano), John Linsman (trumpet), Robert Pernet (drums), Bruno Castellucci (drums) and Snowy Struvay (trumpet). New clubs opened: the Blue Note and Pol's Jazz Club in Brussels, the Jazz Inn in Liège, and the Jazz Clu Hnita in Heist-Op-Den-Berg.
Large outdoor gatherings called "festivals" were organized. Comblain-la-Tour is the oldest: the first edition took place in 1959.
At the turn of the 1980s, jazz came back in force, although it did not find its way to the general public. This return is due in part to the emergence around 1984 of the compact disc, enabling reissues of many jazz classics; the illustrious labels (Blue Note, Pacific, Verve, Impulse!..) were again widely available. However, the total sales of jazz records (about 3-5%) remained low, and attendance to clubs did not profit from the new media. The theme of jazz came up more regularly in advertising and in the daily and weekly press, as well as on the radio. Television still did not pay much attention to jazz. The best sign of this new found health, at European level, was the appearance - and even, in some countries like France, proliferation - of new festivals in the late 1970s, and especially in the 1980s.
Festivals originated in this period are: the festivals of Gouvy, Franchimont, Mortroux, Ostend, Brosella, Rossignol (Gaume Jazz Festival), Oupeye (Jazz au Château), the Belga Jazz Festival, the Festival des Lundis d’Hortense.