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Jazz In Brussels - History Of Jazz In Belgium 1990-


Belgium has yielded a relatively high number of world-class jazz musicians: Philip Catherine, Steve Houben, Bert Joris, Charles Loos, Jean-Louis Rassinfosse, Michel Herr, Philippe Aerts, Peter Hertmans, Erwin Vann, Nathalie Loriers, Ivan Paduart, Phil Abraham, David Linx, Diederik Wissels, the Brussels Jazz Orchestra, Aka Moon... And the tradition is kept alive by a new generation of young and promising musicians in a variety of jazz styles: old-style mainstream, big band, bebop, all forms of modern jazz like the ‘’jazz rock’’, avant-garde and free improvisation, Latin jazz and electric Brazilian fusion, acid jazz, world jazz, etc. Furthermore, musicians of the older generation who are still alive and kicking keep making notable records and are performing at a high level. Toots Thielemans for one was still prominent on the jazz scene. In 2009 he was one of the main attractions during the Night of the Proms in Antwerp, and in March 2010 he played eight shows at the Blue Note Festival in New York. Composer/pianist Jef Neve, born in 1977, has quickly become a prominent figure of Belgian jazz, and his international reputation is still growing. The famous British jazz critic Stuart Nicholson wrote of him: "His very personal approach to the piano trio announces the arrival of a huge promising young musician that has the potential to become an important voice in the European jazz scene to be."

In 2012, there were three leading Belgian jazz magazines: Jazz'halo, Jazz Around (the French partner of Jazz'halo) and Jazzmozaïek, sponsored by the Flemish government. An important organization for the promotion of jazz was Centrum De Werf in Bruges, managed by Rik Bevernage. De Werf organizes jazz concerts, mainly for American and Belgian jazz musicians. According to jazz impresario Jos Demol, the publisher of Jazz'halo, the Belgian jazz scene is generally spoken strongly focused on American jazz. Only a few musicians did their own thing and found their own way: Fred van Hove, Kris Defoort and Gilbert Isbin for example. Demol also noted little real interaction between clubs from different countries, although the differences are sometimes marked with stereotypes as "the clownish Italians", "the romantic French", "the ironic Dutch" and "the straightforward Germans". According to Demol, Belgian jazz could benefit from a mutual influence of styles.

The Brussels Jazz Orchestra big band orchestra wrote Belgian jazz history when at the end of March 2012 it was invited to a series of gigs in the famous New York Blue Note Jazz Club. Up to that date, only one Belgian had had the privilege, and that Belgian was, of course, Toots Thielemans.

At the educational level, self-education that characterized previous generations, is now increasingly replaced by training in schools, at workshops and seminars. Several Belgian musicians are traveling to the United States to attend classes at Berklee College in Boston, the most famous jazz school in the world. Nowadays, jazz teaching is also organized in Belgium. At the initiative of Henri Pousseur, the Liège Conservatory organized a Jazz Seminar, which would run from 1979 to 1985. Many young emerging musicians were formed there, as well as in the class of Improvisation by Garrett List. Today, the Jazz Studio in Antwerp and the Brussels Conservatory provide jazz education at an advanced level.

The international competition for young jazz ensembles and composers in Hoeilaart, "Europ Jazz Contest Hoeilaart" for a long time was the only significant Belgian jazz competition, but today there is also the contest "Jong Jazz Talent" (Young Jazz Talent) in Ghent.




Composed by Dieter Limbourg & arranged by Gyuri Spies.
Recorded by VRT on March 28th 2013, BJO's 20th Anniversary Concert.
This arrangement was released on the BJO album "BJO's Finest" (Saphrane).


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