All the articles

Video: In The Pines première

13 Jun 2019

The premiere was performed last March 14th, accompanied by the singer Lynn Cassiers and with the visual support of illustrations from the Graphic Novel by Erik Kriek. In the Pines received an enthousiastic reception.

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8th International Composition Contest

02 May 2019

BREL with David Linx goes to Canada!

31 Dec 2018

In early February BJO and David Linx will go to Canada for 2 performances of BREL.

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We Have A Dream with Tutu Puoane goes to New York (US)!

31 Dec 2018

On 11 & 12 February the BJO and Tutu Puoane will perform We Have A Dream in Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City!

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In the news (VRT NWS)

01 Nov 2018

BJO25 Birthday tour with Maria Schneider (US)

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We Have A Dream goes symphonic...

31 Oct 2018

with OPRL (Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège) in Liège

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Launch of Youth Jazz Collective

27 Oct 2018

A new youth big-band project

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We Have A Dream featured on De Zevende Dag (VRT)

16 Apr 2018

On 15 April Tutu Puoane and several BJO musicians were guests on "De Zevende Dag" on the Eén (VRT) TV network.

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Tutu Puoane spoke with DownBeat (US)

10 Apr 2018

Q&A about We Have A Dream

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Downbeat magazine (US): Smooth Shake with best albums of 2017!

22 Feb 2018

****1/2 review for Smooth Shake with Bert Joris

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New album We Have A Dream with Tutu Puoane

22 Feb 2018

Now for sale in the BJO webshop!

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Brussels Jazz Orchestra Series: BJO sheet music now for sale

09 Nov 2017

The sheet music of many BJO arrangements (by Michel Herr, Frank Vaganée, Lode Mertens,...) now for sale in our webshop!

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BREL wins an Edison Award 2017

30 Jun 2017

In June 2017, the BREL album with David Linx wins a prestigious Edison Jazz/World Award.

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Newsletter in Dutch, English OR French

29 Nov 2016

Looking for a holiday gift?

24 Nov 2015

Check out the BJO umbrella

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Latest newsletter

News from the Brussels Jazz Orchestra - July & August 2019
Enjoy summer…with BJO
Summer! During the next two months, Brussels Jazz Orchestra will only be playing over our borders. On the calendar are: 2 BREL concerts in France, on 5 July in Couches and on 20 July in Villars-les-Dombes; and one performance of The Sweetheart and The Daredevil in the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany. If you have holiday plans in France or Germany, come and enjoy a special evening out with BJO. All the info is in our calendar.
Not in the neighbourhood? No worries. You can also relax in your own back garden with one of our albums, which you can find in our webshop.
What’s more, starting in September a new BJO season will be ready for you, full of concerts in Belgium and abroad!
In The Pines with Lynn Cassiers live
BJO proudly presents its latest project: In The Pines! ‘Murder ballads’ in arrangements by Frank Vaganée, visuals by Erik Kriek from the eponymous graphic novel and vocals and effects by Lynn Cassiers. Above is a short compilation from the premiere in Flagey in Brussels last March. This multi-faceted performance combines video projection, haunting illustrations, dark stories, instrumental music and singing and will be touring starting next season!
More info.
International Composition Contest
There’s still time to sign up for the 8thBJO International Composition Contest before the 30 September deadline. This competition for talented composers, one of the most important international competitions there is for jazz composition, is focused specifically on new pieces for big-band forces. We’ve already received quite a few works from composers from all over the world for the preselection round. The winner will receive a cash prize as well as a professional audio and video recording of his or her work being played by BJO during the final at the Brussels Jazz Festival in Flagey (Brussels) on 12 January 2020.
Interested in participating? Read on and send us your composition later this summer. More info.
- 05-07 BREL with David Linx at Jazz à Couches, Couches (FR) Tickets.
- 20-07 BREL with David Linx at Cuivres en Dombes, Villars-les-Dombes (FR) Tickets.
- 10-08 The Sweetheart and The Daredevil in Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg (DE) Tickets.
BJO Meet & Greet
In every BJO newsletter we’re introducing you to someone connected with the orchestra, whether it’s one of the players or someone behind the scenes. In this edition:

Koen Maes (general manager of BJO)
How long have you been part of BJO?
"My first workday at Brussels Jazz Orchestra was 21/09/2000. It seems like only yesterday!"
What do you do/play in the orchestra?
"I’m general manager of Brussels Jazz Orchestra vzw."
Why did you choose your instrument and/or role with the orchestra?
"I studied trumpet, first at the music academy of Beringen, later at the Lemmens Institute in Leuven. Like so many brass players, I have a past life with wind bands and marching bands (what we call ‘fanfares’ here). I started to play in big bands at sixteen, and I liked it just as much. During my time at the Lemmens Institute there were too few trumpet players in the jazz department to fill the big band class, so they asked the classical trumpeters to add themselves to the ranks of the big band. They only had to ask me once! Bert Joris was the conductor of the big band then, and Frank Vaganée took over shortly afterwards. 
After my studies at the Lemmens Institute I taught for a short time, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea. To survive as a full-time practicing musician you have to have the right stuff in a lot of areas, and blessed with an incredibly large dose of talent. To make a long story short, I combined part-time teaching with freelancing for VRT radio.
That was a sort of extended student job: I was working for the marketing department, particularly the Radio 1 promotional team. It was a dream job: we had a wide variety of tasks, like accompanying guest artists at events that Radio 1 supported, arranging taxi shuttles to on-location recordings, delivering prizes to contest winners, bringing holiday gifts to associates, things like that.  I made friendships during that job who I still have contact with, and I still have a good network at the VRT.
Then came the desire for something more regular. Rudolf Werthen, of I Fiamminghi, offered me a job as their ‘orkestinspecteur’, sort of a logistics person. That was a wonderfully tight string ensemble. One of the projects I worked in with I Fiamminghi was a big-band project where the ensemble was working with the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw – a great project that I was really looking forward to. I asked the Dutch folks if they needed a motivated Belgian to work in the office. They weren’t looking for one, but they knew that Brussels Jazz Orchestra was looking for someone to help with administrative support.
Of course that rang a huge bell in me. When I started studying at the Lemmens Institute in 1993, a sort of tremor went through the school when we heard that big names like Frank Vaganée, Serge Plume, Marc Godfroid and Bo Van der Werf were starting up a big band with others recruited from Belgium's Finest. What was more, ‘our’ (then very young) Lode Mertens – he was in the same year as I was at the Lemmens Institute – was asked to play in that orchestra. I remember a lot of students feeling really proud. I knew Frank Vaganée as a teacher at the Lemmensinstituut, and I’d only recently graduated. A few phone calls later I was invited to an interview with Frank and the BJO manager. They liked my profile and I was asked to start as a staff member of BJO. 
Just a few months later the position of business director / general manager opened up. I had just turned 25, and I proposed that I take on this huge responsibility..."
"I did realize how great a responsibility it was – for me, it wasn’t at all difficult to estimate the unbelievably huge artistic potential of the orchestra. And they gave me that opportunity. It was a big leap into the unknown for the organization, but even more so for me. I didn’t have any experience, no specific training for the job…in the meantime, it’s been almost 19 years. 
What I’ve been able to experience, learn and achieve (both the good and the bad) is incredible. I can’t express how grateful I am to our musicians, my colleagues and the managers, especially Frank Vaganée, who took a chance on me, and believed in and trusted me.
I would also never have dared to think I could work with such talented musicians at an international level, and on the best stages in the country and abroad, and with such big-name international players as well."

What do you do besides your work with the orchestra?
"I’m a member of the board with Overleg Kunstenorganisaties, an umbrella organization for arts groups. I helped to shape the first edition of Fair Saturday and with Jazz ’n Beyond I’m working with several international bands and artists.  Next academic year I’ll be helping to design a new field of study at the Antwerp Conservatoire.
Everything I do in a professional context is connected. I love the ‘connecting the dots’ principle: everything hangs together and stays fresh, unusual and challenging. And you yourself stay amazed. A great and almost essential by-product of linking everything that you do is that you almost automatically create added value for the individual projects you’re working on. Delivering added value is the best there is."

Which of this season’s BJO productions are or were you looking forward to the most and why?
"This season was one that went beyond the normal categories. A lot of the pieces of the puzzle we’d been working on came together. How else can you explain that in one year we’ve been guests at the Vienna Konzerthaus, travelled to Canada with David Linx and BREL, and were invited back by Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York and the Lizst Akademia in Budapest. But also that we played the best venues in the Netherlands with the brilliant Tutu Puoane, and four times in French ‘Scènes Nationales’ and at French festivals, we’re checking off the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg from our wish list, doing a residence in France with Pierre Drevet, and taking In The Pines to Portugal? 
And I’m not even talking about the concerts that we’ve played in Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia this year. In short, it was an absolutely top year, it would be unfair to choose one project from all of these.
Actually, I personally thought In The Pines was a really special one since it’s a very creative and original concept in many ways: musically, compositionally, conceptually and visually. Strong in every way, the golden mean.
I’m also definitely looking forward to the documentary that Guy Fellemans has been filming about the orchestra for the last three years. It should be presented this autumn."

What is your favourite BJO memory?
"Another question it’s hard to answer with one thing. I’ve built up a lot of memories over 19 years. The whole circus around the Grammy Awards in January 2014 – we’d been nominated for two awards for the album Wild Beauty with Joe Lovano – that’s one I’ll remember for a long time. 
It was my first time in Los Angeles, going from one glitter & glamour reception to the other, fine weather, a police escort for Frank Vaganée’s taxi to get him to the Awards on time – his flight was late and the taxi driver couldn’t believe what was happening: an LAPD escort?! But there was also the live show with production values I had never experienced before, the mini road trip to process the whole thing, where Frank did a live interview for Radio 1 from some diner, and so on. The whole experience was fun from the first second to the last: you know where you’re coming from, you know how much work you’ve had to do to be in that place at that time, and …there you are. That “Mission Accomplished” feeling. Then starting over with a blank slate the next day."
Video Goodies
A section in which we share video material from jazz- & big-band land.
This time: have you spotted our new official photo at the top of this mail? Here’s a look behind the scenes of our photo shoot with photographer Marco Mertens. The photos were taken at Werkplaats Walter in Brussels.
BJO musicians perform | Even once they’re off the BJO stage our musicians keep busy. They play in various other formations, start up productions and release albums, both with other BJO colleagues and other big names from the national and international jazz scene. We’re pleased to provide an overview of their calendars and personal projects in every newsletter.
Frank Vaganée
  • On 8/09 the Frank Vaganée Trio will play at Jazz at Home in Mechelen. More info.
Marc Godfroid
  • On 29/08 Marc Godfroid and Big Band 86 will play a concert with American saxophonist John Ruocco as soloist. Place to be: The Preacher in Geraardsbergen. More info.
Nathalie Loriers
  • On 3/08 Nathalie will play in a preview of Michel Herr’s latest project: “The Positive Tentet” at Gouvy Jazz Festival. More info.
  • On 23/08 Nathalie will be with Tineke Postma and Nic Thys at Broukay Jazz festival in Eben-Emael. More info.


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