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© Alexandre Grimaldi/KAU trio.

Each week we shine our spotlight on young talent. This week KAU trio., the grass-green jazz trio that first appeared last year, turns up in the bundle of light.

“Taking inspiration from jazz, they create a head-bobbing atmosphere using broken beats and catchy melodies while leaving space for improvisation,” KAU trio.'s Bandcamp page reads. Is it jazz or no jazz, that is the question that arises.

“All three of us study jazz, but what we try to master there is much more classical than what we do with KAU trio.,” explains Matteo Genovese, the Italian bassist who forms the Brussels triumvirate with Norwegian drummer Andre Breidlid and German keyboardist Jan Janzen. Just like innovators like STUFF. or Echt!, KAU trio. takes jazz as their starting point and tries something new with it.

“It's complicated,” Genovese says. “For people who study jazz, we don't play jazz. For festivals and bookers we are a jazz trio. Let's just say we play modern jazz or nu-jazz. A kind of progressive version of jazz that mixes jazz with hip hop and other influences. When playing live we may improvise, if we have the space to do so.”

On their first EP, Beat Tape Vol. I, a raw, lo-fi inflected collection of short “beats”, KAU trio. sounded like a hip-hop band playing jazz. Sort of like Canada's BadBadNotGood. “They too are indeed reinterpreting jazz with an electric bass and synth, and they come from the hip-hop culture just like us. And they also work with guests.”

KAU trio. does just that on its second EP, the rather straightforwardly titled II, released this year, which features among others singer Rebecca Driesmans from Ghent and saxophonist Maxime Dereux. But the trio also dabbles with samples of voices. In “Dot” you can hear an audio clip of the famous American space guru Carl Sagan about the famous Pale Blue Dot picture. In “Challenger” there are bits of radio communication just before the fatal explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986.

Tijdens de Week van de Belgische Hiphop speelde KAU trio. een liveset voor BRUZZ

“Samples help us tell a story,” Genovese explains. “'Challenger' is a song about the human ego, and how things can go wrong when we want to go too fast. NASA was under pressure to launch the Challenger according to the predesigned schedule. To meet the deadline, they bypassed some security checks, resulting in the disastrous outcome. It's important to do things right and take your time. KAU trio. was founded in March 2020. We immediately got a lot of attention and we had the chance to be able to perform as soon as it got possible. We were surprised to have our music reaching out so rapidly. We also managed to record two EPs withing a year time. It's happened very quickly, and we do embrace that, but it's okay to slow down too.”

The space theme came about by accident, says Genovese. But they also drew inspiration from Pink Floyd, as is evident on the track “Pink”. “Their album The Dark Side of the Moon is a metaphor for human pride and downfall. About the difficulty of being human. We love Pink Floyd. They were another one of those bands that wanted to push boundaries. So, yes, our name is a reference to their record Atom Heart Mother, with that cow on the cover.” (Laughs)

26/11, 19.30, Atelier 210,

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