Festival Preview: Jazz Brugge 2023

Written by | Festivals, News

From November 17th through to the 19th, Arts Center KAAP and Brugge Concertgebouw will present the ninth edition of Jazz Brugge with “Crossing Cultures” once again as its starting point.

This year, more than ever, the program is seeking new voices and artistic environments where adventurous jazz takes on a surprising form and contemporary meaning. The credo of the late Jaimie Branch serves as the festivals guiding principle. “All the music that ever was and ever will be is here now. It exists in a cloud just above our heads and when we play, we pluck it out of the ether for a lil while before sending it back up.” – Jaimie Branch (1983-2022).

The 9th edition of this renowned festival will deliver 3 days filled with adventure on the front line of jazz and improvised music. With (among others) Sélène Saint-Aimé, Bex Burch, Naissam Jalal, James Brandon Lewis and Theo Croker, Jazz Brugge offers an exciting lineup, representing the most interesting directions of jazz(related) music. Besides the international program, the festival will also celebrate the 30 years of both W.E.R.F. Records (a KAAP activity) and JazzLab.

Of great interest this year will be the collaboration with the The Belgian Jazz Meeting and the Belgium Booms program. The Belgian Jazz Meeting used to take place every two years as a stand-alone event however the organization is now giving the concept a new look where each year, the international visitors program and Belgium Booms will collaborate with an existing jazz event in Belgium.

Belgium Booms, a collaboration between VI.BE, JazzLab, and KAAP, will present 5 Belgian bands during the festival, all selected by an international jury. Each of these bands are deemed to have international potential and have the opportunity to showcase themselves to the audience and (international) professionals present during the festival.

Opening the festival on the Friday is Bassist Anneleen Boehme with what see calls “her dream project”: the nine-member ensemble Grand Picture Palace. This project features a unique ensemble that combines a jazz quintet and a string quartet, blending their diverse musical passions. Anneleen Boehme, at the helm, showcases her expertise both as a bassist and a composer, crafting compositions that defy traditional genres, embodying strength and sophistication.

Their presence at Jazz Middelheim 2020 left a lasting impact, daringly commencing their performance a cappella and then demonstrating the seamless coexistence of jazz and classical elements, devoid of clichés. Boehme and her fellow musicians skillfully integrated structure and improvisation, infusing vibrant hues and dynamic energy into their music. This success now leads them to embark on a new venture, with the release of an album through WERF Records.


Another act on day one that, in my mind is a must see, is the trio “Going”. This is not you everyday trio, Going is comprised of Pak Yan Lau on Synths and Electronics, Giovanni Di Domenico on Fender Rhodes and additional Electronics and held together by drummer Joao Lobo. Their music exudes a sound that loosely aligns with post-jazz rock, yet is intimately connected to improvisational, experimental, and minimal music. Their sonic realm is a captivating trance, where time undergoes various intriguing stretches and transformations. Sounds and textures weave together with polymetric rhythms where it can be challenging to discern exactly what is what. Their music can aptly be characterized as an expansive exploration of the contemporary urban environment.

Brussels native, Vitja Pauwels has made quite a name for himself as a sideman and not to overlook his role as Bombataz’s frontman, has also proved himself as a leader. The versatility of Vitja Pauwels appears boundless. Amidst his numerous musical engagements and personal projects, this Brussels artist managed to unveil a stunning solo album under W.E.R.F. records last year. Titled “Drift By / Sink In,” it beautifully melds tradition and experimentation, blending jazz, Americana, roots, and electronic music creating a unique soundscape. Vitja performs on Saturday in the Kamermuziekzaal, this is not one to miss.

Later on the Saturday, also in the Kamermuziekzaal is the band Echoes of Zoo. Nathan Daems, Bart Vervaeck, Lieven Van Pée, and Falk Schrauwen are the creative minds behind Echoes of Zoo, the latest musical venture. If you’re familiar with bands such as Black Flower, De Beren Gieren, Compro Oro, and Sylvie Kreusch, you may recognize these talented musicians. The spark for Echoes of Zoo ignited from the energy and ethos of Nathan Daems’ cherished band during his childhood, Rage Against The Machine. Inspired by this, he set out to create Echoes of Zoo, a project that fuses psychedelic jazz with a punk spirit. Through this musical platform, Daems aims to amplify the voices of the unheard – the animals.


On the Sunday, Lucid Lucia, previously known as BRZZVLL, unveils their latest album, “Ever Changing Light,” a comprehensive successor to the 2021 mini-album sharing the same title (SDBAN Records). Recently, at Antwerp’s Roma, Lucid Lucia captivated the audience with an enthralling performance characterized by infectious grooves and precisely executed solos. Their music embodies a blend of danceable jazz, ethereal tones, rhythmic beats, and electrifying solos. Lucid Lucia epitomizes unfettered musical expression, skillfully navigating the delicate balance between structured compositions and improvisational freedom.

More information and the complete line-up can be found at the KAAP website and tickets can be purchased at the Concertgebouw website.

Last modified: October 17, 2023