JOAN BAEZ headlines 4th day Gent Jazz Festival!

Other new names include Julia Holter, Cowboy Junkies, Maisha and Frank Woeste & Baptiste Trotignon

  • American folk legend Joan Baez is heading for Gent Jazz Festival on July 4. She will be gracing the Main Stage, after the (almost) equally legendary alt-country band Cowboy Junkies and the roguish avant-garde pop act Julia Holter. Belgian indie bonbon The Antler King will be headlining the Garden Stage that day.
  • Novastar is added to the line-up of July 8, the (already sold-out) day of Sting and his My Songs Tour.
  • Leading London jazz collective Maisha joins the pack on July 7. Other members of the pack that day are Gregory Porter and José James.
  • On July 5, German jazz pianist Frank Woeste invites his French colleague Baptiste Trotignon. Also playing that day: Yuri Honing Acoustic Quartet, and the previously announced Diana Krall, Vincent Peirani and Christian Sands Trio.
  • Other acts already announced: Jamie Cullum (June 30), Gonzalo Rubalcala Trio (July 6), Melissa Aldana (July 6) Pentadox (July 6), Fred Hersch & WDR Big Band conducted by Vince Mendoza (July 6) and John Zorn (July 9).

July 4: Joan Baez, Julia Holter, Cowboy Junkies and The Antler King
Someone has to say it: thank you, Donald Trump! Look, if he hadn’t become president of the United States of America, the now 78-year-old folk music legend and human rights activist Joan Baez would probably still be enjoying her retirement. Ever since she dedicated ‘Nasty Man’ to Trump two years ago – the first song she wrote in over twenty years – there seems to be no stopping her. She was (finally) inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and subsequently released her 25th album with famed Americana producer Joe Henry: Whistle Down the Wind. British newspaper The Guardian called it “a graceful farewell” and an even more enthusiastic Pitchfork said it’s “an equally compelling and rewarding album” on which “Baez does not sound like she’s saying goodbye”. But, in fact, she is: after the Fare Thee Well Tour and her gig at Gent Jazz Festival, Baez is giving retirement a second chance.

Julia Holter has been dealing in stupendously raving album reviews for several years now, securing her a cult status in hipster midst. Rightly so, by the way. With her sun-drenched art-pop – she lives in Los Angeles and is regularly mentioned in the same breath as people like Laurie Anderson and Laurel Halo – Holter has made the year-end lists of Pitchfork, The Wire, Mojo and The Guardian four consecutive times, and if you’re only allowed to bring one Roxy Music cover with you to a deserted island, make sure it’s Holter’s timeless version of ‘2HB’. Take it from us: this is bound to be one of the highlights of Gent Jazz Festival.

Without Cowboy Junkies no Cigarettes After Sex, no Phoebe Bridgers and of course no ‘best Lou Reed cover ever’. (Okay, technically speaking, another cover would then replace what Cowboy Junkies did with ‘Sweet Jane’ from The Velvet Underground, but apart from the fact that we’re not very technically-minded, the notoriously arrogant Lou Reed himself said that “there is no better and more authentic version of that song”.) Last year, the foursome celebrated the 30th anniversary of their influential breakthrough album The Trinity Session, but 2018 was also the year in which they took their delectably melancholic mix of alt-country and roots to new heights with the album All That Reckoning.

The Antler King should be the worst kept secret of the Belgian indie scene. For years now, every music journalist in the country has been so frantically proclaiming the band’s brilliance that the brainchild of Maarten Flamand and Esther Lybeert should have already received seventeen platinum records and an invitation from the king. For now, and until the time they are finally summoned by his majesty, they will close the Garden Stage at Gent Jazz Festival with their conjuring and often wonderfully dissonant Wiccan pop.

July 5: Frank Woeste & Baptiste Trotignon and Yuri Honing Acoustic Quartet
For the past fifteen years, the German jazz pianist and Fender Rhodes enthusiast Frank Woeste has shared the stage with prominent trumpeters like Ibrahim Maalouf, Dave Douglas and Wynton Marsalis. On his recent album Libretto Dialogues Vol. 1 he thought he would change tack by inviting a number of jazz musicians over for a ‘dialogue’, including saxophonist Mark Turner and fellow pianist Baptiste Trotignon. Woeste wrote a piece of music for each of them, and he let them hear it for the first time when they came together to record it. Oh, and there was one more thing: three takes – no more! At Gent Jazz Festival, Woeste wants to reexperience the magic and obvious passion that went into recording the album – with Trotignon, two pianos and, yes, a Fender Rhodes.

When Dutch jazz saxophonist Yuri Honing performed at the Garden Stage of Gent Jazz Festival in 2015, there was no denying: “we want more” was written all over everyone’s forehead. And because some people have since refused to wash their forehead, the Yuri Honing Acoustic Quartet will once again be playing the Garden Stage. Three times, to be precise. In the past, the four musicians were inspired by the likes of David Bowie and Goldfrapp, but on their previous album Goldbrun they got into a ménage à cinq with composers such as Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. “On Goldbrun, Honing is less about melody and more about harmony,” wrote the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, “and so he and his quartet arrive at a new, warm and empathic sound.”

July 7: Maisha
Their debut album There Is a Place got nominated by Gilles Peterson for Jazz Album of the Year at this year’s Worldwide Awards, they were one of those rare live acts invited for a session by the ultracool electronic music platform Boiler Room, and there isn’t a hipster shack left in London that they did not already tear down. In other words: Maisha is hot! The sextet is one of the showpieces of the leading UK jazz label Brownswood Recordings and also one of the trendsetters of the new London jazz scene. The perfect marriage between Pharoah Sanders and Shabaka Hutchings, but with a dash of afrobeat.

July 8: Novastar
With his fifth album In the Cold Light of Monday, Novastar returned to the scene last year – making a big splash! Not just because the rather timid record received nothing but praise – Belgian magazine Humo heard “twelve deceptively simple sounding but layered songs, cleverly arranged, with every sound and lyric in the right place” – but also because he actually made everyone at Rock Werchter and Pukkelpop see stars with his all-powerful live set. (Pun intended, clearly.) No matter how cold that light on his new album may be, as soon as he gets on stage, Novastar is a glowing steamroller.

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