New York has always attracted jazz musicians and lovers of the genre. There is no big name in the history of American jazz that hasn’t at one time or another lived and worked in New York. In short: New York is the City of Jazz! With singer Tutu Puoane, graphic novelist Philip Paquet and composer Bert Joris, the Brussels Jazz Orchestra created a contemporary project about the City of New York. The mood of the early 20th century as well as today’s New York, is evoked with a combination of music, spoken word, songs and imagery
The concert opens with Manna Hatta, a composition by Frank Vaganée that takes you straight to the heart of Manhattan. Tutu Puoane, one of the greatest vocalists of our country, sings songs of jazz divas like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn and Joni Mitchell. Alternating with the songs, the orchestra performs the soundtrack to a graphic novel by Philip Paquet — Smilin'. Paquet is a notorious jazz-lover, creating an ode to New York's 30s and 40s jazz scene with his stories. This story is edited into a video and projected on a large screen.
Another highlight of this concert is formed by the screening of A Bronx Morning, a short documentary film by Jay Leyda dating from 1931, showing us the daily life in the Bronx in the 1920's. Frank Vaganée has composed a soundtrack for this film. The icing on the cake is the screening of Liberty, a film by Laurel and Hardy, set on the top of a skyscraper in New York. Composer Bert Joris has written a modern soundtrack for this film, performed live by the BJO. The soundtrack refers to popular melodies from the era in which the film was produced.
About the Brussels Jazz Orchestra...
The Brussels Jazz Orchestra plays jazz with a dynamic orchestral sound rooted in jazz tradition. The only professional large jazz ensemble in Belgium has a reputation stretching from Singapore to New York. They are frequent guests at festivals and stages all over the world. The recordings of the BJO, 18 CDs to date, have received international recognition and been awarded numerous prizes. In 2012 the orchestra was part of the Oscar triumph for the silent film The Artist, as co-performer of the soundtrack. The album “Wild Beauty” featuring Joe Lovano (2013) scored two Grammy Award Nominations. The Brussels Jazz Orchestra is in residence at Flagey (Brussels) and celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2013. The orchestra – a member of the European Music Circle – works under the artistic direction of Frank Vaganée.