Jazz in the New Season ✌ letter from the programmer

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Published on 04/05/23

Welcome to my final season

Season 23-24 is my last season as a music programmer, not just at Ha Concerts but tout court.

After a career of 37 years, in that season I look back with a nostalgic glance at artists I have encountered on my path and followed for a long time.

These are just a few out of many that I hold dear and that have colored, and sometimes even changed, jazz in Belgium and internationally.


Here are some chunks of nostalgia with musicians who still bring the house down:

  • DJ Grazzhoppa putting his DJ Grazzhoppa's DJ Bigband back on the road with Fabrizio Cassol and Monique Harcum;
  • Jason Moran, who presented his first solo record You've Got To Be Modernistic in 2002. Saw him recently give a phenomenal solo concert at a foreign festival. One to cherish;
  • Dave Douglas, whose bands I followed closely from the early 1990s. Outstanding trumpeter and the creativity of a giant. Coming up with his Gift Trio;
  • Jim Black, Dave Douglas' drummer at the time, who was then a kind of today's Lander Gyselinck and all over the place, the scene's most roguish drummer. Lives in Berlin today and comes with a European trio as Jim Black & The Schrimps;
  • Iva Bittová who in 1999 played a legendary concert with Vladimír Václavek in a sold-out Vooruit theater hall and was thanked with a standing ovation. Bile Inferno was a groundbreaking album at the time. Iva and Vladimír are coming to play it again with new songs as well;
  • Aka Moon that takes me back to the very beginning in 1987 when I introduced Trio Bravo at Vooruit's café. Fabrizio Cassol has long been a companion de route, assembling a sparkling band around the most exuberant and genial jazz trio in this country.
  • Otomo Yoshihide - the Japanese John Zorn - who conquered Ghent in the mid-1990s with dozens of Japanese musicians and gave us a taste of both arranged jazz standards and pure noise. A monument who gets a stage in the city again with his New Jazz Quintet;
  • Philip Catherine who I saw at work with the Dutch rock band Focus at Vooruit in 1977. He then played a piece of solo with an analog cassette recorder that blew my socks off. Meanwhile 80 and still one of the greatest. Comes in trio.
  • Flat Earth Society, which I still programmed as a trio with the rhythm section of the late Xero Slingsby and later evolved into the most brilliant big band ever, kicking all conventions to the curb and just making punishing music. FES collaborates with Quebec guitarist René Lussier who in 1991 gathered the Ghent scene in an orchestra of 14 musicians (including Peter Vermeersch, the brains behind FES) and blew the ears off our heads. Lussier also creator of the iconic record Le Trésor de la Langue.

There are names in the program that, of course, are also more recently connected, but equally make the good weather:

  • Nabou Claerhout with her trombone project;
  • Palestinian oud player Kamilya Jubran with Swiss trumpeter Werner Hassler;
  • Equilibrium - the trio of Danish guitarist Mikkel Ploug, Joachim Badenhorst and the heavenly voice of Sissel Vera Pettersen - made one of the most beautiful records ever a few years ago;
  • Shake Stew as Austrian glory in anxious days, an eight-piece transverse party band;
  • BJO paying tribute to Serge Gainsbourg;
  • trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire with an all-star lineup featuring Bill Frisell on guitar and Herlin Riley on drums;
  • French-Syrian flutist and vocalist Naïssam Jalal presenting her new album Healing Rituals;
  • Vitja Pauwels with his quartet;
  • the Norwegian piano trio of Tord Gustavsen, ...

It's a litany of names, I'm aware. I hope they sound like music to your ears and make you a little giddy, but most of all get you hungry for a beautiful, adventurous and sparkling season. We will give you a warm welcome and pamper your ears.

To the jazz agenda * Early Bird tickets until 1 july



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