Written by | Concert Reviews, Festivals, News

The 15th edition of Gent Jazz Festival has ended to the satisfaction of the organizers. Festival director Bertrand Flamang stated that not only had the music played a role in the success of the festival. The three elements; atmosphere, the crowd and the weather had also been a decisive factor in this year’s edition, being the most successful year so far. Bertrand Flamang further stated that the attending enthusiastic audience over seven days of the festival amounted to an impressive 34,000 visitors.

The second part of the festival began Thursday, July 14 and ended Saturday, July 16. On the Thursday, singer Lianne La Havas was especially impressive. Her music mix of funk, soul and R & B come together on stage. She exuded kindness and grace. She has a beautiful voice, which she  used to emit the emotions in her songs. For me it was one of the finest concerts during the festival.


I felt singer Jill Scott was less convincing. She is a great lady of soul, her band and her singing seemed somehow out of balance. Sometimes the band played too loud, so Jill Scott seemed to compensate by singing louder!   I felt the singing and band seemed unfortunately discordant on a few occasions. This should not occur during a performance in front of thousands of fans. For me it was a disappointing concert.


The James Hunter Six concert was good, with them playing their brand of funk & soul. The British band of singer and guitarist James Hunter had the crowd captivated. During a concert a week earlier, the front man told the audience, he dedicated the song “Chicken Switch” to the UK politician Boris Johnson, for his role in the Brexit.  “Now they have made the bastard Secretary of State”, he said to the audience before playing the song again.


The American Allen Stone played three short sets on the Garden Stage. Every time they played more people were drawn towards the ‘little’ stage. The singer, guitarist and his band became one of the most talked about concerts at the festival. Allen Stone plays in the tradition of soul from the 1960s and 70s.  His singing made for a relaxed atmosphere.


The Budos Band made for an attractive appearance on the main stage Friday. They said they enjoyed their stay in Belgium, especially with experiencing Duvel beer while on stage. Duvel is a corruption of the word devil and the beer can have a demonic effect. I felt the music from trumpet and baritone saxophone suffered somewhat within the massive sounds of the keyboards, drums, percussion, guitar and bass guitar.


The intimate appearance of Ebeyi. The twin sister group of Lisa Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz. They’re the daughters of Miguel ‘Anga’ Diaz, the percussionist of the famous Cuban band the Buena Vista Social Club, who unfortunately  died in 2006. His daughters continue the family tradition. They accompanied themselves, playing keyboards and percussion, their Capella singing sounded was especially impressive.


The final concert on Friday was St. Germain’s. The Frenchman Ludovic Navarre who  became famous at the beginning of the 21st century with his blend of house and jazz. That principle recipe still remains in his music, but recently he added a new dimensions to it: from Africa and Brazil. Sounds of traditional African instruments mingled with the very recognizable sounds off St. Germain. It fitted together very well, with the maestro himself imperturbable playing the keys, somewhat in the background, like a DJ at a dance party.


Two of the biggest talents in the Belgian jazz scene played together Saturday at the Garden Stage. Pianist Fulco Ottervanger and drummer Lander Gyselinck who have joined for a musical project they named Beraadgeslagen (Deliberation Beaten): experiments with keyboards, electronics and percussion. Nevertheless, it all ended in a hard swinging beat. This was the most interesting concert of the final day at Gent Jazz Festival. Youngsters searching for the new and finding out that new always is a product of the past.


The septet Carate Urio Orchestra are musicians from several European countries. Their combined musical background creates a unique musical blend. Reed player and band leader Joachim Badenhorst has developed his unique and versatile sound over many years and it’s clearly recognizable. He also plays in the trio of drummer Han Bennink, as well as participating in the gypsy projects of Koen de Cauter. With the Carate Urio Orchestra he presents as it were a musical atlas of Europe. Always fascinating to hear and see this band.


Perfume Genius was one of the main acts Saturday. The American singer convinced with his vocal abilities and his recognizable voice. His music has influences from symphonic rock that sounded good from the main stage. Mike Hadreas complimented, bringing his message as a chansonnier.
A performance heard by thousands of listeners with touching and intimate moments.

Text: Peter Beije

Photos: Maurits van Hout (jazzphotographyholland.com) and Bruno Bollaert (wahwah.be)

Last modified: July 15, 2018