KING CRIMSON- Concertgebouw, Amsterdam (NL), 13 juli 2018

Dertien juli: mooie dag voor een optreden in het prestigieuze Concertgebouw van Amsterdam. Het al enkele jaren opnieuw toerende King Crimson telt zo’n acht leden. Mooi frontaal zitten de drie drummers; hun samenspel is fenomenaal en vereist grote concentratie; het speelplezier druipt eraf. Op de tweede rij bevinden zich de vijf andere leden, met een hoofdrol voor zanger-gitarist Jakko Jakszyk, naast het oerlid Robert Fripp met zijn stoïcijnse blik en nog steeds subtiele gitaargeluid. Saxofonist Mel Collins is er weer bij; hij maakt een verwarde indruk, en klinkt soms ook zo. Al bij al een sound van een collectief muzikanten (geen egotripperij) met een nadruk op de vroege LP’s van de groep. Zo speelt de groep voor het eerst de bijna volledige Lizard-suite; vorige keer speelden ze slechts een fragment. Tijdens het concert communiceert de groep niet. Ervoor hadden we een ‘meeting’ met Fripp zelf (“ons vorige optreden in deze zaal dateert van 23 november 1973; delen ervan werden gebruikt voor Starless and Bible Black”; “Zitten er nieuwe, liefst vrouwelijke, fans in de zaal?”), met manager Dave Singleton en de leden Jakszyk en Gavin Harrison. Bijna hadden we de leden ontmoet in het Rijksmuseum, waar De Nachtwacht van Rembrandt Van Rijn hangt. Het hierdoor geïnspireerde en in ‘73 in het Concertgebouw opgenomen ‘The Night Watch’ ontbreekt; de groep speelt het (nog) niet tijdens deze tour. Vreemd, maar ook ‘Red’ en ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’ passeren de revue niet. Gelukkig horen we genoeg andere juweeltjes (Epitaph, Starless, The Court of ..., Larks’ Tongues ...) en meer recente, meestal instrumentale huzarenstukjes. Volgend jaar bestaan ze 50 jaar, en wordt ‘In The Court Of The Crimson King’ nog maar eens in een box gestoken (de vorige box dateert van 2009 en bevatte ‘slechts’ vijf CD’s + DVD). Begin maar al te sparen ... maar een CD met nieuw werk staat momenteel nog niet gepland. (EB)

Ramblin' Man Fair, Maidstone (UK), June 30, July 1, 2018

Some photo's of the 2018 edition: Von Herzen Brothers (best performance of the festival!). Slideshow below: The Cult, Blackberry Smoke, Halestorm, Gov't Mule, Sons Of Apollo. (WDJ)

SUPERSONIC BLUES MACHINE featuring BILLY GIBBONS (ZZ Top), July 9 -Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht (NL), July 10 - De Casino, Sint-Niklaas (B)

What a machine !!! Great band, great blues-rock and a hot set with guest Billy Gibbons who added some extra testosterone to a briljant set! A pure dose of heavy Texan boogie! And Gibbons seemed to enjoy himself more than with ZZ Top! With superb drummer Kenny Aronoff! (GR) Photo (WDJ).

IMAGINE RAYMOND, De Werf, Bruges, (B), April 19, 2018

Imagine Raymond was formely named Wofo and is mainly sax player Michel Mast's vehicle for playing the music of Raymond Scott who is best known for his cartoon music (for example Loony Tunes a.o.). The man was an excentric and also experimented with electronic music and that's the territory that Imagine Raymond explores tonight. First on stage is electronics wizard Dijf Sanders who sets the mood for the night. One by one the players take their stand and there we go for a very interesting and imaginative set of pieces, all but one composed by Scott but rearranged for acoustic and electronic instruments. The screen projections compiled by Victor Van Rossem make the concert complete and the music serves as a live soundtrack for the images. What makes the whole experience extra special is the fact that everthing is played live, even the loop-like passages. With a line-up of sax, trumpet, clarinet, bass, drums, piano/keyboards and electronics there's a rich soundpalet that takes the audience away on a musical and visual trip. Leader Michel Mast brings in some humour, not only through the music, but also with a couple of funny announcements. This whole set has a certain lightness, but also engages the listener into some fascinating music. The audience loved it and didn't let the band go before two encores were played. Well done !!! (GR)

MEINRAD KNEER QUINTET - Etage Plus, Baarle-Hertog (NL), April 14, 2018

When the Meinrad Kneer Quintet takes the stage on the second floor of the community center of Baarle-Hertog, the place is full and eager to enjoy an evening of inventive music. And that's exactly what we get in the next two hours. The band sends relaxed vibes into the venue and plays with imagination, humor and dedication. Meinrad introduces every piece with a funny sense of understatement  and everytime the players surprise us with their inventiveness and interaction. Trumpet player Sebastian Piskorz (looks like a young and healthy Chet Baker), sax player Peter van Huffel (he blows a fuse!) and trombone (with devices) player Gerhard Gschlössl (funny guy!) take us on a trip everytime they touch their instruments. Drummer Andreas Pichler plays his instrument in an unconventional but energetic and powerfull way and all of that is held together by the amazing bass of Meinrad himself, the leader of the pack, but once the ball is rolling every player has an equal role and takes part in a fascinating interpretation of his pieces. Sometimes heavy, sometimes funny, sometimes bizarre, sometimes lyrical but always engaging. The venue allows the audience to be literally 'into' the music and the band feels the vibe and gives it back to the people.  I loved it, the crowd loved it and the band loved it. (GR)

JEF MARINUS – Cd release, Casino, Sint-Niklaas (B), March 7, 2018

JEF MARINUS is a household name on the Belgian music scene. Anybody who needs a good steel guitar player knows how to find Jef. He’s got also a busy career with his own band and as band leader for American country singer Doug Adkins who tours Europe on a regular basis. He’s also a regular visitor of Nashville and takes masterclasses over there with his musical heroes. Jef is on a level now that equals the big names on the instrument. Although he has played on many records as a guest artist, he never made an album of his own. ‘Puzzle Steel’ is his debut as a solo artist and is meant to be a kind of showcase of his abilities. Tonight he presents the cd in the cute and warm environment of the Sint-Niklaas Casino. Besides his own band (Chris Peeters on guitar, Ivo Opdebeeck on drums and Rik Lenaerts on bass), he invited all the special guests of the album. Belgian star Paul Michiels (Soulsister) sings a new version of ‘Rewind’, Dutch fiddler Peter van den Bos is a guest on three numbers and Doug Adkins came over from Montana with his backing singers to sing his hit ‘Whiskey Salesman’. Jef plays the complete album that goes from diehard country instrumentals (Hank Williams Medley) to jazz (Duke Ellington’s ‘Caravan’), a wonderful interpretation of Elton John’s ‘Blue Eyes’ and a dazzling interpretation of Morriconi’s ‘Once Upon A time In The West’. These pieces in particular show the eclectic mastership of Jef Marinus. This release show ended up to be an excellent concert with a focus on a lesser known instrument with a very characteristic sound. His own composition and title track ‘Puzzle Steel’ rounds off the presentation and shows his incredible mastering of licks and tricks. Marinus plays a varied and enjoyable show because he doesn’t stick only to country standards, but also trips around pop, jazz, easy listeningand swing. His professional band brings everything up to an international standard along the master. The cd will be on sale at his shows and on www.jefmarinus.com . (Geert Ryssen)

BOOK OF AIR : FIELDTONE - Flagey, Brussels, January 14, 2018

Artwork of the album (2lp or cd)

'This slow art film concert by Book of Air and video artist Wim Van Egmond refers to ‘room tone’: Room tone is the “silence” recorded at a location or space when no music is played or dialogue spoken. Every room is different, and these recordings always carry their unique character. The compositions of Fieldtone are inspired by the tempo and sonic textures of specific nature locations. The sound to be found in nature has a very slow groove. A groove embedded by silence, and so slow it can almost only be felt while spending a few hours in the nature at sea, during a forest trip, in open fields, ...

It is this groove and the “silence” of nature that was an inspiration for the Fieldtone compositions. By embedding this silent slowness into the compositions, the details of the sounds played become much more prominent. In this way the silence in the music amplifies the sounds that are played, and will also amplify the room surrounding the listener.'

That's what the promotor of the concert has to say about this unique concert. Seated on stage, very close to the band and the screen we could enjoy for about ninety minutes the beautiful sounds of a quintet playing textured ambient music evocating the fluctuations in nature. Music reminding of Brian Eno and similar artists, but played by a real band with discipline but also with passion and sophistication. Themes that transform very slowly, sometimes repetitive, but always challengeing to listen to and holding the attention. The audience remains very silent during the whole set and gives the band a big applause. This is ambient music/slow music at it's very best: relaxing, flowing and intriguing. Music for mind and body composed by drummer Stijn Cools. Book Of Air : Fieldtone is a top band that should be huge in it's genre! (GR)

BEYOND THE LABYRINTH, THE HANDSOME DOGS – 23/12/17, Party Makers, Wondelgem (B)

Beyond The labyrinth

Beyond The Labyrinth released their remarkable album ‘The Art Of Resilience’ in 2017 with different singers but without a permanent singer as a bandmember. Now they have a new singer and their ‘End Of Year 2017 Show’ is the ideal moment to present the new front man. Special guest for tonight is German band The Handsome Dogs who will release their first album in 2018 and prove to be a very mature and solid classic hard rock band with good players, a great singer and a collection of good songs which they perform with passion and energy. The crowd loves them! It’s been a long time since Beyond The Labyrinth could be seen on stage and their first show with the singer Dragan Stanley (ex-Midrange) proves to be very promising. They have a lot of fantastic songs and the band is well rehearsed. They play a selection from their albums and the line-up is a bunch of seasoned musicians. Leader Geert Fieuw does not only play guitar but is also the entertainer of the band. Their hour plus set never bores although the band could do with a little more live practice to make things even more fluid. They have the songs, the enthusiasm and the musical power to deliver! The crowd loves them and they play two remarkable encores, one with guest singer Flype from Fireforce who sings the great song ‘Carry On’ in memory of the late Wiz Beauprez and a blistering version of Abba’s ‘SOS’. Great night, with a unique cross-over between melodic-, classic- and progressive rock. BTL rules! (Text - GR) (Photo - Reinhold Podevijn)

MANFRED MANN'S EARTHBAND – Le Kursaal, Limbourg (B) 09/11/17

Manfred Mann's Earthband 2017

De Earthband van Manfred Mann is tegenwoordig vooral een live band die uit een aanzienlijke discografie put met voldoende klassiekers om er een stevige set mee samen te stellen. De muzikantenwissels worden als hefboom gebruikt om de arrangementen van de nummers te laten evolueren of in een nieuw kleedje te stoppen zonder de karakteristieke sound van de groep te verraden. Mann is op de eerste plaats een arrangeur die er op een originele wijze in slaagt om nummers van anderen – en niet de minsten, we spreken hier o.a. van Dylan en Springsteen – een totaal nieuwe dimensie te geven. Live vertrekt de Earthband vanuit gestructureerde songs en breit daar vervolgens als een volleerde jam-band instrumentale uitstapjes aan die steevast boeiend, geïnspireerd en aanstekelijk zijn. De totaal eigen percussie-achtige keyboard stijl van Mann geeft aan de groep een onmiddellijke herkenbaarheid. Vanavond weet ook gitarist van het eerste uur Mick Rogers zich in de kijker te spelen met een aantal verbluffende gitaarsolo’s waaronder twee virtuoze hoogstandjes waarbij hij de fingerpicking stijl toepast op een Stratocaster. Zanger Robert Hart kennen we vooral van bij Bad Company en deze nummers liggen niet altijd in zijn comfortzone. Hart is een blues-rock zanger en het is even wennen om hem in deze context te horen, maar naargelang het concert vordert voelt hij zich meer in zijn sas en ontpopt hij zich als een stijlvolle frontman. Het publiek geniet volop van de rist klassiekers die de revue passeren waaronder de obligate ‘Don’t Kill It Carol’ en ‘Davy’s On The Road Again’. ‘Mighty Quinn’ is de onvermijdelijke afsluiter. Het is duidelijk dat deze rotten zich vermaken en zich door een jongere ritmesectie gewillig laten opjagen. Het resultaat is een energieke, beklijvende en bij vlagen heavy vertoning. Het talrijk opgekomen – hoofdzakelijk mannelijk – publiek zingt bij elk verzoek de longen uit het lijf. Mick Rogers vertrekt na een staande ovatie met de woorden ‘tot volgend jaar’. Van ons mogen Mann en z’n mannen zeker terugkomen. (GR)

ORDEN OGAN, RHAPSODY OF FIRE, UNLEASH THE ARCHERS - October 31, 2017, Biebob, Vosselaar (B)

Orden Ogan

By the time we arrive at the venue, it is already packed and first band UNLEASH THE ARCHERS is playing at full blast. With four albums in their bag and singer Brittney Slayes, the Canadians have b a strong fanbase. Considering the amount of T-shirts in the audience, a lot of them came to see the band tonight. This band is very convincing and proves its ability to reproduce the power of the albums live on stage. Brittney is not only a fantastic vocalist, but she has an equally great band behind her. The audience loves it and gives the band a loud and warm welcome. Second on the bill is the Italian powerful 'soundtrack' metalband RHAPSODY OF FIRE. Recent line-up changes leave the band with only one original member: keyboard player Alex Staropoli. New singer Giacomo Voli replaces the mighty Fabio Leoni and does a very good job. He's a powerful and very strong singer fitted for this band. The sound at the Biebob makes the band more like a pure melodic power metal band and the symphonic element is less obvious. That may change if the band gets space and is able to play as a headliner with full props. Again, the audience is very responsive and loves every minute of it. Headliner ORDEN OGAN is a power-metal band balancing between folk-metal and progressive metal. The four Germans take the stage with masks on their faces, but then it's Helloween eve... Those are taken off after the first song and Orden Ogan plays a triumphant show for an audience that adores the band. They make the crowd sing, shout and move in any direction they want. The first half of the show is dominated by folk-metal tunes and the second half is more progressive. Orden Ogan really conquers the venue with a blistering ninety minute set and gets a standing ovation as a reward for their performance. A special prize goes to guitairist Toby who plays some flabbergasting solo's! (GR)

FEMALE METAL VOICES TOUR 2017 - October 21 2017, De Verlichte Geest, Roeselare (B),

Emmanuelle Zoldan (Sirenia)

The Female Metal Voices Tour 2017 is a touring mini-festival that celebrated its final night at the well-known rock & metal club 'De Verlichte Geest'. When ELYOSE take the stage at the early hour of 7pm, the venue is almost full! The band from Paris made two fine cd's so far but tonight they do not deliver to their full potential. Singer Justine Daaé has a great voice and the band are full of energy but the sound balance is overwhelmed by the drums. I'd like to see this band again sometime! Justine sings with a clear voice in French and they mix industrial sounds with metal arrangements which makes them an original band. Second on the bill are XEROSUN from Ireland. They look like four caveman and one cavewoman heading for a battle (or is it a hunt?). By now the place is packed and the band makes an immediate impact with their growling metal with a lot of original ideas. They label themselves as 'progressive melodic death metal' and that may be a good description. Their debut mini-cd gives a perfect idea about what this band stands for and they manage to bring this over in a live situation. Singer Martyna Halas-Yeates combines harsh vocals with clean passages and the band never overplays and that makes a well-balanced set of an aspiring new name in the category of listenable extreme metal. THE AGONIST from Canada are a again a different matter. Singer/screamer Vicky Psarakis surely knows how to please an audience and their knifesharp metal is much appreciated by the crowd. Fans of bands like Holy Moses or Arch Enemy will like The Agonist for sure! SIRENIA is already a household name in the female metal scene and tonight they will prove their class once more. The band fronted by Norwegian Viking Morten Veland (composer, guitar, vocals) and classically trained French singer Emmanuelle Zoldan (photo) is totally professional and Emmanuelle is a top vocalist who gracefully sings the heavenly melodies. Nevertheless, this band rocks heavily but knows perfectly how to keep a balance between intensity and gracefulness. The audience loves them very much and they are the first band of the night to get a call for an encore. Unfortunately, such things are only reserved for the headliners. THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE from Canada prove the be a worthy headliner and with a history of almost twenty years they have much to choose from to build a good set. And they do. Singer Shibi is short but stands up against the five goth/wave man that back her up. Their gothic/wave/metal sounds very energetic and danceable and is played with a lot of conviction and attitude. They are the right conclusion for a strong bill with all the bands delivering the goods and showing their respect for each other on the final night of the tour. The bill of female fronted bands was full of variation and that makes it all the more enjoyable. (GR)

THE ANALOGUES - Stadschouwburg, Brugge (B), 0ctober 9, 2017

THE ANALOGUES are not a cover band! Sure, they play complete Beatles albums, but they do it with the attitude of an authentic classical ensemble. Tonight they play the complete 'Magical Mystery Tour' lp and the complete 'Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band', the ultimate Beatles classic. They play with dazzling precision and they play every song on the original vintage instruments. That tour de force needs fifteen musicians including the band, a brass section, a string section, a tabla player and a harp player. These guys have studied every Beatles song, went out searching for the right vintage instruments and have found all the right sounds needed to bring this fantastic music back to life. What is most interesting for the Beatle fan is to learn how the sounds were made and which instruments were used to get the unique arrangements as we hear them on the original Beatles records. Another thing that is really special is learning about the genius drumparts of Ringo Starr, which are perfectly reproduced here. This is really very special and a performance that I rate very highly! As an encore we get four other classics: 'A Hard Days Night', 'Eight Days A Week' and a stunning finale with 'Hey Jude'. As this is their last day of their Sgt Peppers Tour, they return a second time for a boiling preformance of 'Revolution'. This was nothing less than brilliant! Oh, what a night! (GR)

PATRICA KAAS - Kursaal Ostend (B), September 2017

Only a couple of words: beyond sublime !!!!!! Shivers. 100/100 ! (GR)

  • MY OWN GHOST, Bosuil, Weert (NL), September 9, 2017

    My Own Ghost opens on the Serious Black tour with a 30 minute set. Tonight the band is hindered by technical problems and a lack of space on stage. The departure of second guitarist Fred Brever altered the sound and the lack of guitar power is compensated by bringing up the electronic parts. Still the band manages to lighten up the faces in the audience with their energetic power metal pop and deserve credit for their courage to rock the Bosluil with enthousiasm dispite Murphy's Law at work. This band has the right spirit and dedication !!! (GR)

  • HERMAN FRANK, Bosuil, Weert (NL), September 9, 2017

    Ex-Accept guitarist has put together a very good band who play this typical German fast-'n'-groovy hard rock with a heads down attitude. Frank is still the great guitarplayer he always was and played some dazzling solo's. The audience liked it for sure! (GR)

  • SERIOUS BLACK, Bosuil, Weert (NL), September 9, 2017

    Serious Black is some sort of super-group with a lot of menbers with a serious career in different bands behind them. Tonight they present their third and new album 'Magic' with style and power and super tight playing. Their melodic and theatrical power metal completes a great and heavy musical evening. (GR)

DIRKSCHNEIDER at Alcatraz Festival, Kortrijk, Belgium, August 11, 2017

After a long kick-of of the festival with Pretty Maids, Krokus, Hell, Ghost a.o., DIRKSCHNEIDER closed the day at midnight and gave us a lesson in heavy metal. Udo Dirkschneider is the original singer of Accept and sang on all of their classic albums. With his own band - his son on drums! - he played a set full of Accept classics and showed us all how it must be done! For 90 minutes he took us on a trip of blistering music with great songs, a super tight band and a dazzling drummer. The audience sings along with every single chorus and he's got the thousands of people with him for the whole set. I recently attended a couple of jazz festivals, and although the music was fine and sometimes great, I never experienced this vibe for one moment there. With Dirkschneider we are witnessing a performance of true art. Where jazz these days is rather cerebral, then good heavy metal is medicine for mind and body. The physical experience in your body of a tight metal band at full blast with nothing but good songs and a feel for rhythm, timing and melody is unique. It's all here and according to a lot of people I met afterwards, this was the undisputable highlight of the day! Up to day 2 now! (GR)

  • JAZZ MIDDELHEIM - Main Stage - August 5, 2017

    Day 3 of the legendary Antwerp Jazz Middelheim Festival opens with African drum legend TONY ALLEN (ex-Fela Kuti) who plays a tribute to one of his musical heroes, Art Blakey. It's early afternoon and the atmosphere is not what the night could bring with this kind of music. Still, Allen plays a very enjoyalble set and ends with with one of his own, more African flavoured pieces that makes us hungry for more. The MINGUS BIG BAND is one of the many tribute bands to the late Charlie Mingus, but these guys from New York belong to the best. They play an enthousiastic set that is more mainstream than most of Mingus' work, but they play with a lot of energy and conviction. The audience loves it! BILL FRIZELL brings a set with music of John Lennon and this works well, but not all the time. The first half hour of the set only contains three songs and those are stretched too long! After all, Lennon wrote popsongs and they are not made to last for ten minutes! The second half of the set was a lot better with a stunning performance of pieces like 'Come Together' and 'Strawberry Fields Forever'. Top of the bill RANDY WESTON (photo) brings an ode to Thelonious Monk and kicks of with a nice solo piece. The man is 91 years old, but performs with a lot of lucidity and power in his hands. His band with an African touch is top and this set is really the icing on the cake of a very enjoyable day at the festival. (GR)

  • JAZZ MIDDELHEIM - Main Stage - August 3, 2017

    Day one of Jazz Middelheim (Antwerp, Belgium) was a very enjoyable jazz fest. First on the main stage is MARK GUILLIANA JAZZ QUARTET. Drummer Guilliana has made a name to a broader audience due to his participation on David Bowie's last opus 'Black Star'. Here we get a straight jazz concert with a quartet of very talented musicians. Nothing earthshaking, a bit academic sometimes but a solid opener for the festival. Second on the bill is ANTOINE PIERRE URBEX. An octet also led by a drummer who made a name for himself as sideman to Philip Catherine and drummer of the highly acclaimed Taxi Wars. He plays a most inventive set which can compete with the follow-up band for the most thrilling music of the day. JOSHUA REDMAN STILL DREAMING (photo) play a hommage to the music and spirit of Ornette Coleman and they are an asthonishing bunch of musicians. Trumpet (cornet) player Ron Miles, bassplayer Scott Coley en drummer Brian Blade are not sideman to the great saxplayer Joshua Redman, but the quartet is a unity with great power and interaction. Everything is right about this band: the pace, the tone, the virtuosity ... The day on main stage closes with veteran saxplayer CHARLES LLOYD & THE MARVELS. They bring us a cocktail of soft-jazz, fusion, americana and funky rhythms. The presence of pedal steel player Greg Leitz gives the band an unique sound and flavour. Pity that the mood of the pieces is always in the same vein. Still this is a very enjoyable set that gets a lot of audience appreciation. A beautiful day in the park ...! (GR)

EXTREME, Ramblin' Man Fair, Maidstone (UK), July 28 2017

Top of the bill and rightly so. This band rocks, funks and swings like hell !!! Great singer, great musicians, great songs and great performace. The highpoint of the festival. (GR)

  • Gent Jazz, July 13, Main Stage

    July 13 was a Lucky day at Gent Jazz! There's only a handful of people when HOERA. take the stage for a preview of their new album, soon to be released. The album was recorded with the help of producer HIELE and the wizard is present here to add some electronics and samples. Their dreamy sounds and improvisations are a mix of past and present with influences form experimental Krautrock to modern improvised jazz. During their set, the crowd is growing and Hoera. gets an appreciative applause. Then it's time for some fun and entertainment with ROBERT GLASPER EXPERIMENT. They are a different bunch. From the spacey sounds of Hoera. to the cross-over rnb/soul/jazz/funk of Glasper is a giant step and still it's natural because it brings a totally different climate in the huge tent. Glasper (on keyboards) is an entertainer, but also a very good musician with a band that enjoys itself from start to finish and that transfers to the audience. STUFF. (the Belgian variety) is different 'stuff' indeed. Their complex techno-jazz is very popular and the huge crowd that gathered in the tent is very responsive. The most succesful band so far. But then comes the mighty KAMASI WASHINGTON (photo) with a hell of a band! Two powerdrummers and a superb bassplayer form a raging rhythmsection. The rest of the band (keyboards, soprano sax, trombone, vocals) are valuable counterpaths for Kamasi who blows his lungs out and puts down a two hour set that doesn't bore for a second! No encore, but then we got two full hours of blazing funk, jazz, soul and rnb! Standing ovation, it was a stand-up concert anyway, but you know what I mean. (GR)

  • Gent jazz, July 13, garden Stage

    On the Garden Stage we got three sets by the wonderful MAKAYA McCRAVEN with a more mellow and ambient first and third set and a second set with the band at full blast. It's great to hear a band play modern ambient music with musicians of flesh and blood and no machines (well almost). McCraven plays these rhythms that we mostly know coming out of machines perfectly live on his drumset. The music of McCaven breathes the spirit of Miles Davis and the audience loves it. Great band that deserves a place on the Main Stage! The day closes with the afro-jazz of SHABAKA AND THE ANCESTORS and they prove to be the ideal band to end a beautiful festival day filled with music for the mind and the body! (GR)

  • Stanley Clarke band, De Lantaren venster, Rotterdam, July 14

    July 13 was a Lucky day at Gent Jazz! There's only a handful of people when HOERA. take the stage for a preview of their new album, soon to be released. The album was recorded with the help of producer HIELE and the wizard is present here to add some electronics and samples. Their dreamy sounds and improvisations are a mix of past and present with influences form experimental Krautrock to modern improvised jazz. During their set, the crowd is growing and Hoera. gets an appreciative applause. Then it's time for some fun and entertainment with ROBERT GLASPER EXPERIMENT. They are a different bunch. From the spacey sounds of Hoera. to the cross-over rnb/soul/jazz/funk of Glasper is a giant step and still it's natural because it brings a totally different climate in the huge tent. Glasper (on keyboards) is an entertainer, but also a very good musician with a band that enjoys itself from start to finish and that transfers to the audience. STUFF. (the Belgian variety) is different 'stuff' indeed. Their complex techno-jazz is very popular and the huge crowd that gathered in the tent is very responsive. The most succesful band so far. But then comes the mighty KAMASI WASHINGTON (photo) with a hell of a band! Two powerdrummers and a superb bassplayer form a raging rhythmsection. The rest of the band (keyboards, soprano sax, trombone, vocals) are valuable counterpaths for Kamasi who blows his lungs out and puts down a two hour set that doesn't bore for a second! No encore, but then we got two full hours of blazing funk, jazz, soul and rnb! Standing ovation, it was a stand-up concert anyway, but you know what I mean. (GR)

  • Gent jazz, July 7, 2017

    When we enter the Festival Site CHRISTIAN SCOTT ATUNDE ADJUAH has already started on the main stage and plays an entertaining set with a cross-over of free jazz, soul, fusion and hiphop. His trumpet playing is a promising and fresh sound on the jazz scene. FRENCH QUARTER is a project with vocalist Hugh Coltman, trumpet player Airelle Besson, pianist Thomas Enhco (son of Didier Lockwood), drummer Anne Paceo, sax player Baptiste Herbin and bass player Sylvain Romano. Their set flows between excitement and softer pieces that miss some drive and passion. Female drummer Paceo is a nice visual extra on the stage though. CHRISTIAN McBRIDE'S NEW JAWN plays a inspiring set. McBride has a huge legacy as recording artist and sideman, but here he's the leading man behind the bass and makes us listen to a very enjoyable set. The icing on the cake today is a blistering set by HERBIE HANCOCK (photo) who plays a steaming electric set powered by topdrummer Vinnie Colaiouta but also the remarkable guitarsounds of Lionel Loueke. James Genus completes the rhythm section on electric bass and a young Terrace Martin on sax and keys takes care of the input of the young generation. Hancock himself is full of energy dispite his age (77) and plays piano and different keyboards with sparkling freshness. Only the start of the set is a bit confusing with some strange transitions, but once the temperature is right, this band rocks, funks and swings like hell. On the second stage, Canadian sax player BEN WENDEL plays 3 very nice sets with a lot of enthousiastic listeners in the audience. When SCHNITZL ends the day on the Garden Stage, the tent is full once again and enters the night with some floating piano and drums ... (GR)

  • Gent Jazz, July 8, 2017

    TOMASZ STANKO/ENRICO RAVA QUINTET is the opening act on the mainstage and will be the best overall act of the day. The ECM act plays with passion and dedication and both trumpetplayers are a good match together. Their music is very accessible but still very interesting because these guys play with fantasy and vision. BASSDRUMBONE is a trio with bass, drums and trombone. That's an original set-up and this trio has been together for forty years and they still play with passion and dedication. Sometimes very lyrical and then very free and challenging. I would like to see this in a smaller place because the big tent and stage take away some of the intimacy that this kind of band needs. McCOY TYNER TRIO with CRAIG TABORN turns out to be mainly a set played by Taborn who's of course a very gifted pianist who brings tribute to the legendary master. When Tyner (photo) finally comes up and starts playing there's real magic in the air. What a musician, what a depth, what a touch ... shivers! The best moment of the day! Standing ovation! WAYNE SHORTER QUARTET with CASCO PHILHARMONIC performing Emanon turns out to be a disappointment. The quartet seems to have a good time on stage but miss the flexability that we want to hear by a jazz band. When after a short quartet set the orchestra takes the stage for the performance of Emanon - an ambitious Shorter composition - it becomes immediately clear that this is not what we are waiting for. This is not the quartet with orchestra, but the other way around! The orchestral score misses variation and dynamics and the quartet is drowned by the limitations of the sheet music and the orchestra ... A pity because these guys can play of course. On the Garden Stage TRIO GRANDE plays 3 very inspired sets with a very original line-up of reeds, drums and tuba/trombone. For the last set this line-up is expanded to RÊVE d' ELEPHANT ORCHESTRA for a late night uplifting and colourful set full of jazz, spoken word and theatre. (GR)

  • Cactus, Spirit Of 66, 2017

    In een dampend volle Spirit Of 66 maken we ons klaar voor een avondje heavy boogie rock met één van de iconen van het genre. Onder leiding van originele drummer Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Beck, Bogart & Appice, Rod Stewart, Ozzy, King Kobra, …) zal het vijftal ons twee uur trakteren op onvervalste ‘van dik hout zaagt men planken’ boogie rock. Gitarist Jim McCarty moet jammer genoeg verstek laten gaan omwille van gezondheidsredenen, maar hij wordt vervangen door de uitstekende Paul Warren (Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, …). Verder bestaat de band uit de verbluffende bassist Jimmy Caputo die samen met Appice zorgt voor de kolkende rock-‘n’-boogie grooves, harmonica speler Randy Pratt die de het blues gehalte hoog houdt en zanger Jimmy Kunes die op het einde van deze tour blijkbaar zijn stem wat moet forceren, maar daar geen ene moer om maalt en voluit gaat tot het bittere einde. Cactus kiest vanavond niet voor de platgetreden paden, maar put graag uit hun recente en overigens fantastische cd ‘Black Dawn’ en combineert dat met een paar bewerkte blues klassiekers en het nog steeds pakkende ‘Evil’ uit ‘Restrictions’, hun bekendste plaat van weleer. Zelfs de lange drumsolo van Appice gaat erin als koek omdat de man weet hoe hij tussen alle roffels door, toch die meeslepende groove moet bewaren. Dit was een zalig concert met een enthousiaste band in een broeierige clubsetting. De seventies revisited maar dan zonder een belegen geurtje. Hier stond een overtuigende en energieke band te spelen met een geluid dat als een welgemikte trap onder de kont aanvoelt. (GR)

Skullfest, Wervik, 2017

Je mag Skullfest gerust een festival van de oude stempel noemen. Gezellige kleinschalige sfeer, gemoedelijke security, open en vrij … Het publiek bestaat voor een flink deel uit leden van diverse motorclubs, mensen waar je liefst met twee woorden tegen spreekt, maar helemaal niet beantwoordend aan de vooroordelen waar vele onwetenden deze gasten mee beladen. Alles verloopt er vriendelijk en correct, de leden van de organiserende club zijn een toffe bende. Het festival zelf verloopt indoors maar er is vrije circulatie naar het plein ervoor waar naast een terras een paar leuke standjes met parafernalia zijn ingericht. Zelfs de Soldiers For Jesus staan er met een kraam dat spullen verkoopt ten voordele van de organisatie Ziekenhuisclowns. Het hart op de juiste plaats en dat is het hele gevoel dat je aan dit leuke festival overhoudt. Met een bezoekersaantal van enkele honderden is de site goed gevuld, maar is er ook een gezellige bewegingsvrijheid. Alhoewel het festival gespreid wordt over twee dagen, maken wij een selectie uit het aanbod. De grote verrassing is de Nederlandse thrash-metal band Distillator die met een ziedende en strakke set bewijst dat dit genre niet hoeft te verzanden in ondefinieerbare noise. Het trio zet een dijk van een set neer en dat levert nadien heel wat belangstelling op aan hun merchandising stand. De band waar duidelijk het meeste toeschouwers in zijn geïnteresseerd is het Canadese Kobra And The Lotus (foto). De verschijning van de perfecte rock chick Kobra Paige als zangeres is daar wellicht niet vreemd aan, maar we zeggen er onmiddellijk bij dat dit een uitstekende en strakke metal band is die aansluit bij de US-metal beweging van de jaren tachtig. Kobra is een uitmuntend goede zangeres met een klassieke scholing die haar skills en talenten gebruikt in de context van vlammende metal songs. Met hun nieuwe en uitstekende album ‘Prevail I’ onder de arm start de band een Europese tour met een handicap. Zangeres Kobra kampt immers met een verkoudheid en haar stem lijdt er onder. Het siert haar dat ze deze set toch volledig en met verve afwerkt. We missen wat kracht, maar dat is haar vergeven in deze omstandigheden. Zelfs de hoge noten weet ze er nog uit te persen. Wat een madam! Achteraf verkoopt de vinyl van Prevail I als zoete broodjes … Vintage Caravan uit IJsland heeft ons al weten te bekoren met hun albums en hun set enkele jaren geleden in het voorprogramma van Blues Pills heeft ons definitief tot fan gemaakt. De hoge verwachtingen die we van dit optreden hadden maken ze niet volledig waar alhoewel de band technisch perfect speelt en dat ook doet met volle overgave. Toch missen we in de nummers dat beetje extra. Dit zijn uitstekende muzikanten maar ze weten niet het enthousiasme op te wekken dat Kobra en haar kompanen wel heeft opgeroepen. De afsluiter van de avond is Evil Invaders en die hebben ongetwijfeld er opnieuw de pees opgelegd. We zien deze band binnenkort nog bij andere gelegenheden en hebben ze vanavond veel succes toegewenst, iets wat ze hun reputatie kennende zeker hebben waargemaakt. (GR)

JOE BONAMASSA - Lotto Arena, Antwerp (B) April 28, 2017

Joe Bonamassa in full action, Lotto Arena 2017

Joe Bonamassa is a regular visitor to the midsized European concert halls. His greatest achievement is that he brings back the blues to the masses without too much compromise. He works together with top producer Kevin Shirley (Journey, …) and creates a sound that appeals to rock- and blues fans at the same time. His tours are very successful and his stop at the Antwerp Lotto Arena was another hit. Bonamassa always surrounds himself with top musicians and builds a show with a lot of variation with songs that are influenced by American roots music spanning from blues to soul, from country rock to heavy rock and all these influences are perfectly consolidated. In Antwerp Joe plays as usual a long set that never bores. His band allows a lot of flexibility with a basic line-up of drums (the great Anton Fig!), bass, keyboards and the phenomenal guitar playing by Joe himself. Where appropriate the sound is enriched by a fine brass section and two female backing singers. The show is also visually attractive without crazy props, but Joe knows how to talk to his audience and switches from one guitar to another, while every single musician of his band is a delight to watch. Bonamassa is the true successor of the great Stevie Ray Vaughn but with some extra mainstream quality. The audience loves every minute of the show and so do we. Blues fans of any generation should thank Joe for being able to cross-over the blues to a large audience without losing any credibility! (GR)