With one month, 3 festivals, 46 concerts at 8 concert venues, Brussels definitively puts jazz in the spotlight in January. As the birthplace of the saxophone, the Belgian capital has become an essential stopover for musicians and lovers of the genre. Brussels is the city with the highest number of jazz concerts per capita in the world, after New York and Paris. From Toots Thielemans, to Philip Catherine, Steve Houben, Mélanie De Biasio, Eric Legnini, and Charles Loos, these ambassadors of Belgian jazz abroad all have a close link with this city, where it feels good to play and share your music. With its many festivals, concert halls, clubs and conservatories, jazz is widespread and can be heard everywhere, in every style, all year round and all through the night.
One of the highlights of the Brussels jazz calendar is in January. The capital of Europe will vibrate to the sound of jazz at the beginning of 2020. From 8 to 25 January 2020, no fewer than three jazz festivals will be feature in Brussels’ cultural life: the Brussels Jazz Festival, the River Jazz Festival and the Djangofolllies. Three unmissable events with three distinct identities that will showcase both new talents from the Belgian jazz scene and international stars.
Brussels Jazz Festival, the annual event for jazz lovers
Flagey offers 11 festival days combining, as usual, established international stars and discoveries from the local jazz scene. The talented Brussels drummer Antoine Pierre will be the artist in residence and will present three projects, including two new creations. Drummers will be showcased at this 6th festival with, among others, Lander Gyselinck (St6cks), Tom Skinner (Wildflower), Makaya McCraven and Anton Eger on the programme. The spotlight will also be on two labels: the Belgians from W.E.R.F Records (Commander Spoon, Boyan Z, MDCIII, etc.) and the Americans from International Anthem (Jeff Parker, Jamie Branch, etc.). The icing on the cake will be the Belgian Mélanie De Biasio, who will open the festivities with two exceptional concerts to support her new artist’s studio in Charleroi.
Flagey – from 8 to 18 January
The River Jazz Festival, three stages to broaden the horizons
The poster for the 6th edition criss-crosses between new CDs (Macha Gharibian Trio, Or Bareket Quartet, Quentin Dujardin and Didier Laloy, Bai Kamara Jr.), explosive duets (David Linx & Michel Hatzigeorgiou, Igor Géhénot & Amaury Faye), wild ensembles (Rêve d’Eléphant Orchestra, Géraud Portal plays Mingus), prestigious guests (Sal La Rocca Quartet feat. Stéphane Belmondo) and tradition and roots (Alexandre Cavalière Quintet, Simin Tander). The programme also features a children’s concert by Manuel Hermia, an exhibition of engravings by Jean-Claude Salémi and a lecture by JP Schroeder on guitarist Philip Catherine. A highlight of the festival, the River Jazz Night, which closes the event on the 25th, will this year be orchestrated by talented Belgian drummer Stéphane Galland (Aka Moon…).
Marni Theatre, Jazz Station, Le Senghor – 9 to 25 January
Djangofolllies, the Belgian festival dedicated to gypsy jazz
This event brings together top musicians and sparkling musical encounters between generations, tradition and innovation, all honouring the legacy of Django Reinhardt. The Jazzy Strings group, an amazing collaboration between three fathers and three sons (Schmitt, Cavalière, Debarre), will open the festivities in Brussels for the first time at the AB. The programme for this 6th edition also includes the Kamao Quartet accompanied by famous Belgian Tcha Limberger, “the king of gypsy music” (The Times), the quintet of the brilliant violinist Alexandre Cavalière, the Dan Gharibian trio, and, lastly, the new quartet of Fapy Lafertin.
Ancienne Belgique, Les Riches-Claires, Flagey, Jazz Station, Muziekpublique, Kunsthumanoria – from 14 to 25 January in Brussels
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