Discover the first names of the line-up of Jazz Middelheim 2021!

John Zorn / Laurie Anderson / Bill Laswell
Anouar Brahem, Youn Sun Nah, Michel Portal,
Le Ravage d’Ali Baba, Samuel Ber, Toine Thys

Tonight will see the curtain come down on a virtually sold-out Jazz Middelheim 1.5. For eleven days, more than 5,500 people were in the grip of the jazz virus. No need to panic because there were no fatalities.

But it did demonstrate the huge craving for live music – with as the highlights the concerts of Joachim Badenhorst, Eric Thielemans solo, Tuur Florizoone, Robin Verheyen & Bram De Looze, De Beren Gieren, Philip Catherine, Cinema Paradiso, Kris Defoort Trio, Karen Willems & Frederik Croene, Dijf Sanders, and Stéphane Galland, and Jeroen Van Herzeele. “Jazz Middelheim is an annual event that, under normal circumstances, many people wouldn’t want to miss for all the money in the world,” says festival director Bertrand Flamang. “Of course, these are by no means normal circumstances, which made both the attendance and the warmth we received from the audience and the musicians all the more precious.”

Although Jazz Middelheim 1.5 was a loss-maker – despite being sold out with up to 400 people per day – it did receive additional support from the City of Antwerp through relief measures. It meant that the organisation could give the musicians who were hit very hard by the coronavirus crisis the opportunity to play in front of a live audience.
The fact that the line-up consisted entirely of Belgian artists is evidence of the abundance of homegrown talent. “Moreover, it was encouraging to see that ever more women are breaking through into our music scene. Just think of Aki with Anke Verslype, Naima Joris and bass player Lara Rosseel, Nabou, Karen Willems, Hanne De Backer, and the rediscovery of Tutu Puoane,” adds Bertrand.

Alderman for Culture Nabilla Ait Daoud: “Jazz Middelheim will always be associated with Antwerp. More than fifty years after its first iteration, this internationally-renowned festival still draws thousands of jazz lovers to our city. This festival will always have a special place in our heart. In recent years, the City of Antwerp has stepped up its investments in the successful combination of innovative jazz in the unique setting of Park den Brandt. Unfortunately, the subsequent coronavirus measures threw a spanner in the works twice for this year’s festival. But Jazz Middelheim came through, organising an entirely corona-proof, albeit slimmed down version of the festival, providing passionate jazz fans with their annual musical fix, which pleases me to no end as the alderman for culture!” 

Marc Weyts, Producer Klara (Belgian radio station): “What a revelation this special edition of Jazz Middelheim has been. The sheer amount of talent in Belgium is just incredible. Pianist Jeff Neve brought the house (or tent if you will) down together with the Dutch trumpetist Teus Nobel. Aki, the band of drummer Anke Verslype, turned out to be a great discovery. The kind of clenched melancholy that leaves you longing for more. De Beren Gieren were in fine form. As were Aka Moon. Surprisingly subtle, this trio. And finally, we also got to enjoy the wonderful generosity of Dez Mona. Gregory Frateur was visibly moved by the audience’s warm response, a sentiment that was also echoed backstage where everyone was overjoyed to be able to perform before a live audience again.

The Klara team was also happy to be part of this experience… It took a bit of technical kung-fu to pull it all together in such a short time. Because Klara recorded all of the concerts. Which is how Bart Vanhoudt was able to take you to Park Den Brandt in Antwerp every evening during Late Night Jazz. From Monday to Friday in this instance. With such artists as Jef Neve, Mâäk Quintet, De Beren Gieren, Dez Mona and Aka Moon. The concerts that we were unable to broadcast during Jazz Middelheim will be featured in our jazz programmes this autumn: on Mondays at 10 pm (Late Night Jazz), Fridays at 6 pm (Take 6) and Sundays at 10 pm (Round Midnight). On Klara or on the Klara app.”

There is even more great news, because we can now announce the first names for the line-up of Jazz Middelheim 2021. And they’re pretty impressive! On Saturday 14 August, no fewer than three icons will take the stage together: John Zorn, Laurie Anderson and Bill Laswell. Three musicians who have been at the forefront of the avant-garde for the past five decades. Incidentally, Laswell would have been at Jazz Middelheim last summer – both solo and with Iggy Pop – and he didn’t want to turn this delay into a cancellation.

The ever-adventurous Belgian drummer Samuel Ber will take care of the Club Stage that day. First solo and then with his various projects Pentadox, Reservoir Ghosts and Malaby / Dumoulin / Ber.

Sunday 15 August will be concluded by yet another icon: the Tunisian oud player Anouar Brahem, who has been building bridges between Arab and Western music for decades. The perfect opportunity for Jazz Middelheim to line up even more jazz musicians who are influenced by the rich, Arab music culture.

Not your cup of tea? Not a problem. After all, there are other distinguished names such as Youn Sun Nahand the legendary French bass clarinet player Michel Portal on the line-up that day.

Toine Thys also has something to celebrate as on 15 August, as he will be on the Club Stage no fewer than three times, with Dervish, Overseas ft. Harmen Fraanje and Toine Thys ‘Orlando’. We will round off the day with the awe-inspiring and moving project Le Ravage d’Ali Baba by the Belgian jazz drummer Simon Plancke. This project was inspired by the stories of refugees and is intended to draw attention to the issue of refugees and to raise money and contribute to a solution. In recent weeks, it has again become painfully clear how much this is needed and, as an international jazz festival, we too want to make a contribution.
Would you like to join us? You too can do your bit via their site.

In 2021, Jazz Middelheim will be held from Thursday 12 to Sunday 15 August in Park Den Brandt, Antwerp. Ticket sales start from today on