Brosella sets up an encounter between the Brussels and London jazz scenes

Tom Peeters

Shamrockraver Photography

| Brussels jazz drummer Stéphane Galland is one of the mentors of the interplay between young talent from Brussels and London

Brosella is launching a fraternisation between the future of the Brussels and London jazz scenes under the banner “BXL x LDN Interplay”. Stéphane Galland and Binker Golding, two premium capital jazz citizens, have been appointed mentors to the young bunch. Their conclusion: “The process is the success.”

Drummer Stéphane Galland and saxophonist Binker Golding are, alongside pianist Bram De Looze, mentoring Brosella's first “interplay” between young jazz talent from Brussels and London. Having performed at their own Spring Festival and the Bricklane Jazz Festival in April, this summer they can showcase the talent of their respective scenes at both Brosella and We Out Here in Dorset, England, the influential festival of BBC deejay and record label boss Gilles Peterson.

The coaches are not just anyone. With Aka Moon, Galland co-founded a European jazz style over 30 years ago that took the world by storm. These days, he teaches at the Brussels conservatory and seeks cross-pollinations across the generations with his son Elvin or with his Rhythm Hunters. Saxophonist Binker Golding created considerable furore in duo with drummer Moses Boyd and is one of the standard-bearers of the current London jazz boom. He teaches at Tomorrow's Warriors, the socio-educational, artistic organisation Brosella used as the template for BXL x LDN Interplay, a collaboration that pairs three musicians from the English capital with three talents from Brussels: drummer Diogo Alexandre, flautist Lúcia Pires, and guitarist Eliott Knuets.

Constantly encountering new musicians is crucial for the development of any musician

Stéphane Galland

The new initiative BXL x LDN Interplay aims to ensure the urban future of jazz with you as experienced guides. Why is the emphasis on jazz and ensembles?
Stéphane Galland: Constantly encountering new musicians is crucial for the development of any musician, and jazz is ideally suited to mix different backgrounds. Open minds and improvisational skills are crucial for creating something that no one expects. I do see it as an interaction rather than the experienced master teaching the student something. I am also inspired by playing together with young people. They provide fresh energy.
Binker Golding: I wholeheartedly agree with Stéphane. When I discover new music, it is mostly through my students, who keep me on my toes. When they ask me to explain something, I often ask myself if I myself know what I am talking about or what their music is about? Your own experience can help them master something and help them apply it to their own living environment quicker. Every time, something new is created which neither they nor I had thought of.
Galland: I recognise that from working with my son Elvin. He knows all the hits of today that I am much less familiar with and will always fit my rhythmic and creative suggestions into his own aesthetic, which in turn I can learn a lot from.

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Shamrockraver Photography

Binker, why has Tomorrow's Warriors, which just as Brosella selected three young talents for BXL x LDN Interplay, been so important to the success of the London jazz scene?
Golding: The educational platform is the brainchild of British-Jamaican jazz bassist Gary Crosby and his partner Janine Irons. Over 30 years ago, they began to scour London for young jazz talent who otherwise never might have picked up an instrument, as a sort of contemporary Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, with Gary in the role of Art. Ever since its inception, this has enabled the organisation to provide free music tuition to more than 10,000 young people. Just as Shabaka Hutchings and other standard-bearers of the current scene, I was once a student there myself. Not only did we learn to play in tune, we were also taught the spirit of being artists, something music schools sometimes forget.
Galland: I am trying to make some changes at the Brussels conservatory, to achieve some of that. But even my students sometimes complain that they have to spend a lot of time on other things when, in their formative years, they should be playing a lot. Places like Volta, where you can experiment, are crucial in this regard. The strength of Tomorrow's Warriors is that it is a bottom-up story. That is also how Aka Moon started. For seven years, we played every Wednesday at De Kaai. Compositions emerged and developed on stage. It was our laboratory. A whole scene was created from that underground. Zap Mama played their first concert there, Lenny Kravitz came there to jam.
Golding: I myself learnt to play jazz in a club in London. I went along to their jam session every Sunday night between 11 pm and 2 am. You need to combine that practical and social side of your development with lessons at a conservatory. The idea behind Tomorrow's Warriors could work anywhere, and in terms of attitude, the Brussels experiment is great but of course it is only a starting point.

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Shamrockraver Photography

When will this artistic exchange be a success?
Golding: It is already a success. It is not about the final destination, but the process. It can go forward or sideways, as long as it moves. Just look at Sonny Rollins. Early in his career, he played the tightest jazz you could imagine, until he realised that continuing to evolve and change was key. That's how I see it.
Galland: The process is the success. Any part of it could be interesting. Something very fresh is likely to sound more fragile and sparkling, but it can also be great to have a melody in your fingers.
Golding: These projects always make sense, whether you launch them in Brussels or London, in Berlin or Copenhagen, because communicating and collaborating with new people and seeing what comes out of it makes the world a better place and may even be an antidote to other things happening in Europe right now.
Galland: It may sound corny, but I truly believe that music can heal the world, even without being explicit.
Golding: If there is no art and self-expression, you end up in a dystopian, Orwellian world. So you need to have a lot of music around you. If music is truly good and deep, it can open people's hearts and stop them from doing bad things. I am a strong believer in that, because when you are moved by something it reminds you of your own humanity and thus your capacity to love. It's very hard to hate people when you play jazz together.

Brosella takes place on 6 and 7/7 at the Ossegempark/Parc d'Osseghem,

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