Brussels Jazz festival: a journey to jazz and beyond

Binker & Moses.

Beside a number of icons like Archie Shepp, Tony Allen, and Enrico Rava, the fourth edition of the Brussels Jazz Festival is bringing a cross-section of jazz and its bastard brood, step-children, and distant cousins to Brussels for ten days.

Take the classically trained pianists Heleen Van Haegenborgh & Christian Mendoza (12/1, 12/30), for example. At lunchtime, they will present their debut Copper. Van Haegenborgh is best-known for her intriguing explorations on the piano.

Side by side with Mendoza, she weaves together jazz and contemporary classical music. Kurtág’s transcriptions of Bach for four hands form the foundation of an adventurous, minimalist audio-visual show. A day later, the trendy British jazz/crossover scene will descend on Brussels.

With Soweto Kinch, Portico Quartet and Binker & Moses (13/1, 19.30), the programme features an impressive triple bill. Kinch is an alto saxophonist and rapper, and thus blends the two hippest genres of the moment. He is coming to present his new album Nonagram, and because he has been the presenter of the BBC Radio 3 programme Jazz Now since last year, he is also an ideal guest for an artist talk.

Along with his colleague Binker Golding, who is coming to present Journey to the Mountain of Forever with drummer Moses Boyd, he will undoubtedly also talk about the success of Portico Quartet, one of the first British bands among the rising stars that successfully combine jazz and electronica. Their most recent release is very appropriately entitled Art in the Age of Automation.

The fact the Brussels Philharmonic regularly also flirts with jazz must be common knowledge by now. For their Jazz Meets Symphonic series, they have forged an alliance with the renowned American pianist and composer Uri Caine (18/1, 21.00). Together, they have arranged Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations as jazz. Two Belgian ensembles will be celebrating at the festival.

With his eye on West Africa, the Brussels-based trumpet player Laurent Blondiau founded the Mâäk Collective twenty years ago. There will be a festive kick-off to the anniversary year with concerts by both the 16-member big band MikMâäk and FIVE, which reverts to the musicians who were the artistic core of the collective between 2001 and 2008 (16/1, 20.15).

Drummer Lander Gyselinck is not only having a party with LABtrio (19/1, 19.30) for their tenth anniversary, he’s also collaborating with Sinister Sister – with whom he reconstructed the work of Frank Zappa – to explore the heritage of Hungarian composer Béla Bartók (18/1, 19.30), after which he will take up his post at the turntables to showcase some of the genre’s other bastardizing qualities.

Brussels Jazz Festival. 11 > 20/1, Flagey, Elsene

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