GENT JAZZ FESTVAL to tear down jazz walls with STUFF., Moses Boyd Exodus, James Holden and Terence Blanchard

Moses Boyd Exodus, Makaya McCraven, James Holden & The Animal Spirits, Mulatu Astatke, Blick Bassy and STUFF. to headline a special Gent Jazz Festival day full of young and explosive bands. Terence Blanchard, Martha Da’ro and Stéphane Galland also added to the line-up


  • On July 3, Gent Jazz Festival shifts into 6th gear. On that day, no fewer than twelve young, explosive bands will tear down the boundaries of the jazz genre: Moses Boyd Exodus, Makaya McCraven, James Holden & The Animal Spirits, Mulatu Astatke, Blick Bassy, MDC III, Commander Spoon, H A S T, Steiger, and – of course – STUFF.
  • Guillaume Vierset Harvest Group joins the pack on July 5, closing the Garden Stage.
  • With Terence Blanchard, July 6 gets another headliner. The legendary American trumpet player, who was recently nominated for an Oscar, will pay tribute to Art Blakey. Also added to the lineup that day: Aka Moon drummer Stéphane Galland will take over the Garden Stage not once, not twice but three times, with a little help from – among others – Pomrad and Malcolm Braff.
  • Upcoming talent Martha Da’ro is headlining the Garden Stage on July 6. She will be preceded by three even younger talents from the Ghent School of Arts: UMM, and Suura.
  • On July 9, jazz drummer Teun Verbruggen’s Werkplaats Walter will take over the Garden Stage for an entire day, bringing out Nate Wooley, Chris Corsano, Bram De Looze and loads more.


July 3: Moses Boyd Exodus, Makaya McCraven, James Holden & The Animal Spirits, Mulatu Astatke, Blick Bassy, MDC III, Commander Spoon, H A S T, Steiger, PAARD. & STUFF.




What can we still say about STUFF. that has not been said and written a hundred times already? In recent years, the highly explosive band around drummer Lander Gyselinck has received just about every conceivable music prize thrown at his head, they ravaged the biggest Belgian summer festivals and the hottest London jazz clubs, went on tour with Howard Shore’s film scores and – above all – are widely regarded as the pioneers of the new Belgian jazz scene. Looking for some hot STUFF. baby this evening? Check!


Mulatu Astatke


You could call Mulatu Astatke, the godfather of the Ethio-jazz, the wise elder on July 3, a day full of Young Turks. (It’s quite possible there are bands playing Gent Jazz Festival that day whose collective age is not even remotely close to that of Astatke.) But if you know that Jim Jarmusch chose seven of his songs for the soundtrack of his excellent Broken Flowers and that, for the past twenty years, he has been sampled by everyone from Kanye West and Nas to Madlib and Oddisee, then you know that Astatke belongs on that stage, on July 3.


Moses Boyd Exodus


“Devastatingly subtle but defiantly fun”, the British newspaper The Independent recently headlined, when it reviewed Moses Boyd Exodus in concert. Followed by: “If jazz is an unbounded mentality rather than a rulebook, then Moses Boyd embodies it.” The British drummer grew up with both Tony Allen and grime, and he has since not only worked with Sons of Kemet and Zara McFarlane, but also with Four Tet and Little Simz. Boyd accelerates in two seconds from 0 to 100 MPH, and from jazz to hip hop to electronics.


Makaya McCraven


His father, American jazz drummer Steve McCraven, learned the trade with Marion Brown and Archie Shepp. His mother, Ágnes Zsigmondi, mixes Hungarian folk with jazz. From the former, drummer and self-declared beat scientist Makaya McCraven inherited his merciless and hypnotic rhythms, from the latter, his wide-eyed view of the world and his thirst to experiment with other genres. Inspired by Madlib and Flying Lotus, among others, McCraven has in recent years bridged the gap between jazz and hip-hop, Chicago and London, and avant-garde and – as he himself calls them – organic beats.


James Holden & The Animal Spirits


James Holden? At Gent Jazz Festival!? Well, yeah! The British electronic music pioneer recently made an album with the improv ensemble The Animal Spirits that is as groundbreaking as it is insane – merging ambient, psychedelica, krautrock, electronics and jazz. “It’s his most dramatic rejection yet of anything resembling ‘dance music’ in the functional DJ-led sense”, Pitchfork wrote enthusiastically, while also noting that Holden was inspired by Pharaoh Sanders and Don Cherry, among others. Live he also goes the extra mile: Belgian magazine Humo described one of their concerts as “sort of like an Orbital gig that was sequenced and mixed on the spot by a couple of Aphex Twins and a jazzman in a long white robe”.


Blick Bassy


In France, where Cameroonian singer-songwriter Blick Bassy is currently based, his recently released concept album 1958 (about the anti-colonial leader Ruben Um Nyobé, who demanded independence for Cameroon and was murdered by the French in 1958) received nothing but rave reviews. But music lovers were also excited in the UK. The Guardian even called Bassy one of the most inventive African voices of his generation, and the newspaper was not only talking about his actual “ghostly, soulful voice”, but also about his striking mix of African, Latin American and North American sounds and lyrics, in which he doesn’t avoid hot issues.




“It’s almost impossible to grasp how these three manage to achieve such a result live”, Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad commented after a performance by MDC III, the band of saxophonist Mattias De Craene and his two drummers/percussionists Simon Segers and Lennert Jacobs. “We can only compare it with car mechanics tinkering with a car while driving it!” The only question that remains: which car? MDC III is too dirty and too loud for a Tesla, too unpredictable for a Renault Clio and too eccentric for the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters. A pimped-out Trabant then?




In case you missed it: H A S T is the Belgian revelation of Spring! Elegy, the band’s first album, was called “merciless in its intensity” by Knack Focus. “Fans of Nordmann and Joachim Badenhorst know what to do.” Jazz’halo took notice of “a new comet at the Belgian jazz firmament that shoots passed pop, jazz, rock and dark soundtracks”. And for the music blog Dancing Bears the album sounded like “a combination of the chaos of Frank Zappa’s most experimental pieces and the peaceful dark jazz of Bohren & der Club of Gore”.




The career of Steiger continues to head in the upward direction. After the three came up with the excellent debut album And Above All in 2017 (and were given the title Young Jazz Talent at Gent Jazz Festival), they released the even stronger album Give Space, for which they recorded each song at a different location. Music blog Indiestyle talked about “a perfect mix between experimental and classical jazz”, and British music magazine Mojo compared it to a dark trip: “Bold and unpredictable, it cements Steiger’s upfront position amid a growing brigade of young Belgian peers.” Hey, look, when the British say it …


Commander Spoon


When Lefto presented his superb compilation Jazz Cats (full of young Belgian jazz musicians) at AB last year, Commander Spoon was there. Obviously, because there is no better jazz band in Brussels to put ‘party’ in ‘release party’, and because its four members embody everything captivating about The New Wave of Belgian Jazz: they respectfully demolish walls between jazz, hip hop, rock and electronica, their compositions have both classical and exotic influences, and if pop acts like JUICY and Darrell Cole come calling, they are the first to respond.




“Spontaneity is extremely important for us”, says PAARD. drummer Sigfried Burroughs. “We all play in projects and bands that often expect something else from us. It would also be nice if we could still feel the phenomenal rush we experienced at our first concert in five years’ time.” That first concert was barely a year ago inside Consouling Store, at the launch of the music magazine 33-45, and it was already quite legendary. Since then, PAARD. (which means HORSE. in Dutch has only started to canter even more – with its mix of jazz, hip hop and funk. No idea what that will be like in five years’ time, but for this summer: a fireworks festival!


July 5: Guillaume Vierset Harvest Group


Guillaume Vierset Harvest Group


Belgian jazz guitarist Guillaume Vierset loves those old-fashioned pop songs, and he doesn’t exactly hide it either when he goes out on the road with his Harvest Group. In fact, the quintet’s previous album was simply called Songwriter, and it contained three songs by Nick Drake, the British genius who never sold more than a few thousand records in his life, but was a huge source of inspiration for R.E.M. and The Cure, among others. And so now also for Guillaume Vierset. In short: the perfect band to close the Garden Stage.


July 6: Terence Blanchard ft. The E-Collective, Stéphane Galland & Pomrad, Stéphane Galland & Malcolm Braff and Stéphane Galland & (The Mystery of) KEM


A/B Squared :: Terence Blanchard ft. The E-Collective w/ special guests


In a just world, American trumpet player Terence Blanchard would have received an Oscar for his BlacKkKlansman score earlier this year (and in an even fairer world, he would have also received one for every other Spike Lee film). Oh well, just as long as we live in a world in which he will perform at Gent Jazz Festival with his Art Blakey project, right? A/B Squared is Blanchard’s tribute to the legendary jazz drummer, with whom Blanchard played in the beginning of his career. “I got to know all my heroes through Art”, says Blanchard, who was introduced to Blakey by Wynton Marsalis at the age of nineteen. “The opportunities he gave me to find my own voice, I now want to give to the musicians with whom I play.”


Stéphane Galland & Pomrad


Stéphane Galland already worked with everyone from Joe Lovano and Zap Mama to Ozark Henry. But the drummer is without a doubt most famous as a founding member of Aka Moon, one of the most talked-about jazz bands in Belgian music history. Galland is celebrating his fiftieth birthday this year, but his sound is still ageless. At Gent Jazz Festival, he will demonstrate that with three different sets: one with his project (The Mystery of) KEM, one with Malcolm Braff and one with Pomrad.


The latter promises to be the most swinging. The Antwerp jazz keyboard player Pomrad is one of the best kept secrets of the Belgian electronic music scene, and he is also one of the greatest aficionados of the – look, nobody is perfect – keytar. Pomrad was once called the love child of Hudson Mohawke and Herbie Hancock, and apart from a few biological objections, there’s really no denying that.


Stéphane Galland & Malcolm Braff


The second in the row, pianist Malcolm Braff, is in fact a living legend himself. He has already been described as the guru of the Swiss jazz scene, where he ended up as a teenager via Rio de Janeiro and Dakar, and his discography includes more than twenty albums – a couple of them on Blue Note Records.


Stéphane Galland & (The Mystery of) KEM


With (The Mystery of) KEM, Stéphane Galland explores the roots of rhythm – the term ‘kem’ in ancient Egypt referred to the colour black, and thus implicitly also to dark, fertile earth. He brought together several young musicians for this project, recorded an album with them, and now he also asked them to join him at Gent Jazz Festival.


July 7: Martha Da’ro, UMM, Suura & Raman.


Martha Da’ro


You probably know her as Martha Canga Antonio, who at the age of twenty made a name for herself in Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah’s breakthrough film Black. Or maybe you’ve already seen her at work with the popular hip hop band Soul’Art. No? Then just remember the name Martha Da’ro from now on, because after her appearance at the Out the Frame hip hop festival in Vooruit, one thing has become very clear: Martha Da’ro is ready to conquer the world on her own, and she already has the songs to do so. “Soulful without being soul,” she describes her own sound, “with many different colours and many different facets.”


UMM + Suura + Raman.


The HoGent Conservatory is bursting with talent, and it would be silly to wait until they all formally graduate before having them play a concert in their own backyard – the Bijloke site also houses the Conservatory. So, on July 7, in between the big-name acts on the main stage, UMM, Suura and Raman. will each play a half-hour set at the Garden Stage.


UMM has just released its delightful debut album The Good Side – now on a streaming platform near your laptop or smartphone – and has also already been praised by Poppunt Magazine for its “experimentally spiced pop, slick grooves, intriguing song structures and silky-soft mysterious vocals”. Convinced already?


Suura is a whole different story. The band was founded after guitarist Nicolas Van Belle returned from a year in Denmark, where he immersed himself in Scandinavian jazz and folk. The result of that trip was perfectly articulated by Belgian music blog Enola: “The Ghent trio makes jazz that is not jazz … but not like STUFF. does it! Suura is much more interested in falling leaves than in a dance floor.


Finally, Raman. relies on blistering guitars, unadulterated rock-‘n-roll and a dash of blues. In other words: just what you need to warm up for Gregory Porter.


July 9: Werkplaats Walter


“There are few initiatives that focus on avant-garde or experimental art and music”, says Teun Verbruggen. With Werkplaats Walter in Anderlecht, the Belgian jazz drummer wants to change this and “create a place where like-minded souls meet and work together, while also being a pillar in the neighbourhood”. The result is not only to be seen (and heard) in Brussels, but also this summer at the Gent Jazz Festival. On the day that John Zorn takes over the main stage with his infamous Bagatelles, Werkplaats Walter will take over the Garden Stage with four different formations.


Headliner will be the song cycle 7 Storey Mountain of American trumpeter Nate Wooley – a good friend of John Zorn by the way. Wooley wrote the music without any specific genre in mind, and for the festival he will be travelling to Belgium a week in advance to rehearse it with a very special one-off band at Werkplaats Walter. Improvisation is, of course, mandatory.


Also on the bill that day: 1. The duo Teun Verbruggen and Julien Deprez, the French guitarist who co-founded the famous Collectif Coax in Paris. 2. A remarkable quartet composed by LABtrio pianist Bram De Looze, American trumpet player Nate Wooley, avant-garde hero C. Spencer Yeh and – last but not least – Chris Corsano, the renowned drummer who switches between jazz, punk and Björk without hesitation. 3. The duo Samara Lubelski and Ryan Sawyer. The first is known for her collaborations with Thurston Moore, Bill Nace and others, the second has also worked with Moore, as well as Massive Attack and Darius Jones.


The 18th edition of Gent Jazz Festival will take place from 29 June to 9 July 2019 at the Bijloke site in Ghent. More names will be announced soon.



Practical information

Gent Jazz Festival 29/06-09/07/2019, Bijlokesite, Ghent, Belgium

Tickets available on or via Fnac


Sunday 30/06/2019


19.30u – 21.00u: Jamie Cullum


Wednesday 03/07/2019


22.45u – 00.00u: STUFF.

20.45u – 22.00u: Mulatu Astatke

19.00u – 20.00u: James Holden & The Animal Spirits

17.15u – 18.15u: Moses Boyd Exodus

15.30u – 16.30u: Makaya McCraven

13.45u – 14.45u: Blick Bassy



00.00u – 01.00u: MDCIII

22.05u – 22.35u: Commander Spoon

20.05u – 20.35u: Steiger

18.20u – 18.50u: H A S T

16.35u – 17.05u: PAARD.


Thursday 04/07/2019


22.30u – 00.00u: Joan Baez

20.30u – 21.45u: Julia Holter

18.30u – 19.45u: Cowboy Junkies



00.00u – 01.00u: The Antler King


Friday 05/07/2019


22.30u – 00.00u: Diana Krall

20.30u – 21.45u: Vincent Peirani “Living Being”

18.30u – 19.45u: Christian Sands Trio

16.30u – 17.45u: Frank Woeste & Baptiste Trotignon



00.00u – 01.00u: Guillaume Vierset Harvest Group

21.50u – 22.25u: Yuri Honing Acoustic Quartet

19.50u – 20.25u: Yuri Honing Acoustic Quartet

17.50u – 18.25u: Yuri Honing Acoustic Quartet


Saturday 06/07/2019


22.30u – 00.00u: Fred Hersch & WDR Big Band conducted by Vince Mendoza

20.30u – 21.45u: Terence Blanchard feat. the E-collective A/B Squared

18.30u – 19.45u: Gonzalo Rubalcaba Trio

16.30u – 17.45u: Pentadox



00.00u – 01.00u: Melissa Aldana

21.50u – 22.25u: « Yhi » : Stéphane Galland / Adriaan Van de Velde

19.50u – 20.25u: Stéphane Galland & Malcolm Braff

17.50u – 18.25u: Stéphane Galland & (the mystery of) Kem


Sunday 07/07/2019


19.30u – 21.00u: Gregory Porter

17.30u – 18.45u: José James Presents: “Lean On Me”

15.30u – 16.45u: Maisha



21.00u – 22.00u: Martha Da’ro

18.50u – 19.25u: Raman.

16.50u – 17.25u: UMM

14.50u – 15.25u: Suura


Monday 08/07/2019


22.30u – 00.00u: Sting “My Songs”

20.30u – 21.45u: Novastar


Tuesday 09/07/2019


John Zorn ‘Bagatelles’

22.30u – 00.00u: Nova Quartet / Peter Evans Solo / Asmodeus

20.30u – 21.45u: Gyan Riley & Julian Lage / Brian Marsella Trio / Ikue Mori / John Medeski Trio

18.30u – 19.45u: Craig Taborn Solo / Trigger / Erik Friedlander-Mike Nicolas Duo / Kris Davis

16.30u – 17.45u: Masada / Sylvie Courvoisier & Mark Feldman / Mary Halverson Quartet



00.00u – 01.00u: Nate Wooley’s 7 Storey Mountain

21.50u – 22.25u: Julien Desprez & Teun Verbruggen

19.50u – 20.25u: Bram De Looze, Nate Wooley, C. Spencer Yeh & Chris Corsano

17.50u – 18.25u: Samara Lubelski & Ryan Sawyer


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