Boggamasta boogie on down at Brussels Jazz Weekend

The UK equivalent to the Brussels Jazz Weekend would be to hold a jazz festival in Trafalgar Square, something that's not too likely a prospect. The BJW has its heart in the Grand Place, right in the centre of Brussels, but its massive freebie programme also operates around three main zones, both indoors and outdoors. Uptown, downtown and the 'European district' are blessed with three days of open air gigs, shifting into an extreme infestation of clubs, bars and cafés during each of its three nights. This 2018 edition was the second, but the weekend has a two-decade history in a previous incarnation, as the Brussels Jazz Marathon. The event represents a massive jazz takeover of the capital. Even those attuned to the Belgian jazz scene would find a multitude of unfamiliar acts, so vast is the programme. Besides the majority jazz quotient, there are also many artists arriving from global-ethnic quarters, or from alternative rock/pop, hip hop and electronic music zones.

A highlight of the Saturday evening was the strange beast named Boggamasta (pictured), at Ancienne Belgique, one of the city's prime multi-genre music venues. This was the large ensemble usually known as Flat Earth Society, but acting under a special name, to signify the inclusion of guitarist David Bovée. He was an early member of FES, and also the central figure of Antwerpian global mulchers Think Of One. The repertoire for Boggamasta resides at the funkier end, incorporating a strong hip hop element, as if Frank Zappa had moved into avant rap music. Led by bass clarinettist Peter Vermeersch, FES have been together for over two decades, their deep rapport immediately visible, the line-up still including the likes of Bart Maris (trumpet), Michel Mast (tenor saxophone), Berlinde Deman (tuba/vocals) and Teun Verbruggen (drums).

The gig was only the second (or possibly third) occasion that this Vermeersch/Bovée music was performed, the latter impressing equally on lead guitar extremity and forceful frontman freestyling, complete with monsterised bass-flooded voice effects. Bovée was often partnered by Vermeersch, in a perverted manifestation of Run DMC's verbal ping-ponging. Humour and funk co-existed with power and complexity, while the big band's carefully woven layers were clearly discernible via the PA system's sharp mix. Twisted effects cloaked ensemble vocals, as most of the group tackled chorus refrains, as if in the midst of some twisted hip-hopera. Twinned drums kicked beneath charged horn parts, as Bovée battled with Peter Vandenberghe, vying for Cecil Taylor-esque freedom on a shared keyboard.

boggamasta-brussels2

A chief pleasure during this weekend was its variety of locations: to stroll from a big show like Boggamasta's, down an alleyway into the Théâtre Royal De Toone, just off the Grand Place. It's a marionette performance space and a bar, where De Braave Joenges could be found, after the witching hour, playing downhome blues, but sung in the Brusselois Dutch-French dialect (and sometimes English), with acoustic guitar, harmonica, simple percussion and joint vocals. Complete intimacy, to close the Saturday night, with not a spare chair in sight.

Les Chroniques De'Inutile opened the Sunday afternoon on the Grand Place main stage, tempting already, just because they are signed to El Negocito Records, one of Belgium's best imprints, operating from Gent. This septet played works by their guitarist Benjamin Sauzereau, opening with a vaguely Latin lope, bass flute soloing, their drummer playing like a conguero, making a light-toed funk, with ensemble horns led by a tenor saxophone onslaught. They aren't a Latin jazz combo, but that form nevertheless provided a firm influence, alongside hints of ska and a spikier, compact incarnation of the Gil Evans palette. Even though solos happened, this crew had an overriding ensemble mentality, making clean stabs with their horns, chased by a Fender Rhodes outbreak from Eric Bribosia that sounded like an early Bill Frisell guitar solo, piled-up with spangled jangle. There was a sudden interjection of manic Zappa-oid soloing from Sauzereau, followed by an episode of collective free-Zorning that didn't drive away the Grand Place crowd. On the contrary, it was wondrous to see such sounds warmly embraced in the city centre on a Sunday afternoon.

Once again, a five-minute wander brought us to Les Cercle Des Voyageurs, where the Don Kapot threesome were sunk deeply into the Afro-free brutalist basement, with blurting baritone saxophone, cyclic guitar and insistent drums, reminiscent at times of the much-missed Morphine. Sleazed noir-jazz throatiness shrunk by the third number, a tiny wooden flute revealed, before tight-tripped sticks and creamed basslines herded the sound back to a late 1960s groove, then into a ramming Norwegian head-bang.

In the uptown area, the Place de la Chapelle offered a smaller outdoor stage alternative, with the locally-based Kel Assouf representing the weekend's strong North African winners, operating in the Saharan desert Tuareg rock mode. This band are now stripped down to a hardcore guitar/synth/drums power trio, with grinding riff curlicues, spilling over with distortion, basslines (or more accurately, pulse-lines) and organ mimicry, via small keyboard electronics. They built a Flying-V Hendrix churn, with incantatory vocals. Meanwhile, the more urbane and sophisticated Hijaz played in the aptly-named Brussels City Bar, where a more select atmosphere held sway. Their combination of oud, keyboards, bass and various goblet drums facilitated a powering Arabic jazz fusion, full of streamlined detail, dynamic in execution.

Martin Longley

– Photographs by Clara Blanckaert

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Babelfish swim to Kings Place for Once U…

Acclaimed jazz-folk group Babelfish are set to launch their new...

Read More.....

Michael Janisch kicks out the jams for n…

Whirlwind Recordings label boss Michael Janisch (above centre) steps back...

Read More.....

Lost Miles Davis Rubberband album snaps …

Rubberband, a previously unissued 1985 album by Miles Davis, is...

Read More.....

Grégoire Tirtiaux and Gratitude Trio lea…

This is a festival where it’s possible to completely miss Kamasi...

Read More.....

Final Bow For The Night Tripper – A Trib…

Refuting the title of his biggest hit, ‘Right Place, Wrong...

Read More.....

Rossano Sportiello rounds out Harriet Co…

For 40 amazing years, the singer Harriet Coleman has presented...

Read More.....

Ronnie Scott’s rolls up to Royal Albert …

Ronnie Scott’s, the iconic London jazz club, will mark its...

Read More.....

Wollny Steals The Night As Moran Breaks …

The first thing to notice were the queues, over 200...

Read More.....

Steam Down, Emma-Jean Thackray and Leafc…

Stroud’s reputation as the alternative hippy hub of the Cotswolds...

Read More.....

Andrew McCormack returns with Graviton: …

Award-winning pianist Andrew McCormack storms back with the second volume...

Read More.....

Jazz Cafe sax summit kicks off second Lo…

Following its successful inaugural run last year, the London Saxophone...

Read More.....

McFerrin Moves Estonian Voices To Jubila…

The second half of Tallinn’s 10-day Jazzkaar festival was particularly...

Read More.....

Herbie Hancock, Terri Lyne Carrington an…

The line-up for this year’s EFG London Jazz Festival is...

Read More.....

Williams And Mancio Find Home With Subli…

  Kate Williams and her distinctive Four Plus Three, that’s her...

Read More.....

McBride, Porter, Reeves and Jazz At Linc…

Although it is a respected cultural event throughout the Caribbean...

Read More.....

Major unreleased Tubby Hayes Fontana alb…

Christmas comes early for fans of the late, great Brit-jazz...

Read More.....

Ripsaw Get Rolling

Baritone saxophonist Cath Roberts and guitarist Anton Hunter take their...

Read More.....

Cello Fellows Honsinger, Dixon & Lon…

The fifth annual Chicago Jazz String Summit took place at...

Read More.....

Bristol Jazz Fest launches Crowdfunder l…

The Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival has launched a...

Read More.....

Marcus Miller, Tim Garland and Leïla Mar…

The full line-up for this year’s Manchester Jazz Festival has...

Read More.....

Joshua Redman And Sosa Electrify Spirits…

After last year’s swelter, Cheltenham Festival offered a more temperate climate for...

Read More.....

Friedlander Frames Family Memories At Ka…

  If many contemporary jazz festivals opt for maximum numbers, gigs-wise...

Read More.....

Bonsai band bounce out for album and UK…

Progressive jazz five-piece Bonsai – formerly known as Jam Experiment...

Read More.....

Prieto Exhibits Latin Prowess, While Med…

This 30th edition of the Savannah Music Festival featured a...

Read More.....

Jazz 625 BBC4 Live broadcast and Free St…

With Cheltenham Jazz Festival set for a busy six days...

Read More.....

Steam Down Collective, Sons Of Kemet, Ca…

This year’s Jazz FM Awards ceremony took place at Shoreditch...

Read More.....

Ribot Leads Revolutionary Call At Jazz E…

Portugal’s premier experimental jazz bash, Jazz em Agosto, adopts a...

Read More.....

Cinematic Orchestra, Friday Arena and Ba…

The organisers of this year’s Love Supreme Jazz Festival, which...

Read More.....

John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension …

  Kicking off this evening’s set with a high-octane crash through...

Read More.....

Terri Lyne Carrington, Joe Lovano and Lu…

This year’s EFG London Jazz Festival, its 27th edition, runs...

Read More.....

Stanley Clarke Captivates With Crowd-Sur…

As Return to Forever bass legend Stanley Clarke (pictured above) opened...

Read More.....

Bro, Seim and Gustafsson amid the Scandi…

  As a snapshot of the great charm of Vossa Jazz's...

Read More.....

Laura Mvula, Melt Yourself Down and Alin…

  Love Supreme continue to expand the brand by bringing an...

Read More.....

Empirical get set for Distraction Tactic…

Multi-award winning London four-piece Empirical release the second part of...

Read More.....

Thrice is the charm for APA Cole Porter …

Say what you like about America (and I frequently do)...

Read More.....

Blue Note President Don Was To Receive P…

Don Was, the President of the iconic Blue Note Records...

Read More.....

Making The Cut Mpu 300x500px

Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

@OttoWillberg Oddly, that's also the title of one of his albums...
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
RT @mpjanisch: S/o to @Jazzwise for premiering the album trailer for my new record coming out Sept 6 on @WhirlwindRecord - shot in Studio 3…
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA