The 36th edition of Jazz Middelheim will be held from 3 through 6 August this year, which is slightly earlier than the weekend of 15 August, which is when the festival is normally held. “In cooperation with several other international festivals, we try to make sure that the public from all around the world can enjoy their favorite acts every year. In order to be assured that we could put the right programme together, we moved the festival up a little bit this year,” explains festival organizer Bertrand Flamang.
Thursday, 3 August, the first day of the festival, will be opened by artist in residence, Mark Guiliana. Guiliana has already performed together with stars such as Brad Mehldau and Avishai Cohen, as well as being put in the spotlights as drummer on Blackstar, David Bowie’s last album. He and his quartet will be presenting his most recent album, Family First, at Jazz Middelheim. This album highlights just one facet of this incredibly talented drummer and musician. Also in the line-up for 3 August: Antoine Pierre Urbex. Young drummer Antoine Pierre, who has, among other things, participated in TaxiWars, the jazz project by dEUS-frontman Tom Barman and sax player Robin Verheyen, will be presenting his first album, Urbex, and his own band. The name is short for Urban Exploration, compositions created on the foundation of the city and the aesthetic of abandoned buildings. We’ll then come across Joshua Redman. This sax player, who has traversed all jazz paths, and his Still Dreaming quartet will be reinterpreting the historic “Old and New Dreams” quartet from the 1970s and 1980s. Charles Lloyd & The Marvels will close the first day of the festival. This celebrated sax player took the first steps into a musical life, with famed travelling companions such as Cannonball Adderley, Herbie Hancock, and Keith Jarrett, at the end of the 1950s. He and his own quartet achieved a sort of pop star status at the end of the 1960, after which Lloyd withdrew from the music scene for a while. Several years later, Charles Lloyd decided to dedicate himself fully to the music again. On this day, the Club Stage belongs solely to Jozef Dumoulin, the Belgian keyboard player with a base of operations in Paris. Dumoulin is showing up increasingly more on the international stage and has teamed up with several of the New York scene’s driving forces. He will be playing one set after another together with Plug and Pray, True Company #1, Trojan Panda, and Jozef Dumoulin & The Red Hill Orchestra.
On Friday, 4 August, we will be surrendering to a series of English musicians, during which Portico Quartet will be breaking the ice with their newest music. They shot from a busking collective playing the streets of London to a quartet that was nominated for the illustrious Mercury Prize and was brought into the famous Real World label by owner Peter Gabriel himself. Together with BadBadNotGood, GoGo Penguin, and our very own STUFF., they are a part of the vanguard of the constantly self-reinventing experimental jazz. Artist in residence Mark Guiliana will be performing under the name Mark Guiliana Beat Music on day two. Guiliana doesn’t shy away from a heaping portion of improv. He’s also not afraid to throw out the set list completely, which results in a unique, improvised concert. So get ready for an eclectic mix of jazz, soul, rock, electronica, and loads of samples performed by a progressive quartet! Matthew Herbert’s Brexit Big Band will take to the stage afterwards. Matthew Herbert launched his new project, ‘Brexit Big Band’, to coincide with the Brexit. The project will end in 2019, when he releases his newest album - at the same time that the United Kingdom leaves the EU. When playing live, the band is an artistic party that focuses on musical collaboration without any borders. The Cinematic Orchestra, the company set up by Jason Swinscoe under the independent label Ninja Tune, will close this day of the festival. They released a new single, ‘To Believe’, last year as a preview of their upcoming new album. Since their creation in 1999, the band has ‘only’ released three regular albums. Ma Fleur, released in 2007, is still the most recent of their three LPs. Chantal Acda will be surrounding herself with fabulous folks while performing four different sets on the Club Stage that day.
Saturday, 5 August, is the day of tributes. Randy Weston will be performing an homage to Thelonious Monk in the context of Monk 100, Bill Frisell has selected pieces from John Lennon’s oeuvre with ‘All We Are Saying’, Mingus Big Band will be honouring - who else - Charles Mingus, while Tony Allen Quartet will be bringing Art Blakey - one of the most famous and most influential drummers that ever lived - back to this Antwerp park for a while. Ruben Machtelinckx will be demonstrating the various forms of his art on the Club Stage.
Sunday, 6 August, the last day of the festival, will start out with the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp’s coaching project. Every year, the Conservatoire gives a few promising young musicians the opportunity to develop a project together with a renown international artist. This year’s students will be working together with artist in residence Mark Guiliana under the name Penny Freeman. Thereafter, Becca Stevens will take to the Main Stage. The New York Times referred to her as a best kept secret and she has previously worked with stars such as Brad Mehldau, Vijay Iyer, and Snarky Puppy. She accompanies herself enchantingly on the guitar and ukulele. Dans Dans, the trio made up of Bert Dockx (Flying Horseman), Frederic Lyenn Jacques (Mark Lanegan, Lyenn), and Steven Cassiers (Dez Mona, DAAU), has a live reputation that extends far beyond our national borders, turned themselves into a one-of-a-kind trio in no time. With four albums under their belt, they perform a unique, atmospheric, and refined mix that stands out beautifully live; a dose of young musical power at its best! We will end Jazz Middelheim 2017 on a high note of unbelievable proportions: none other than Van Morrison will grace us with an exclusive performance! The Irish legend needs no more introduction than that. Last year, Van the Man added his newest album, Keep Me Singing, to his almost 50-album-rich oeuvre. It’s the newest addition to a repertoire that includes numerous hits, such as “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Domino”, “Did Ye Get Healed”, and “Have I Told You Lately”. Van Morrison turns the stage into a danger zone and will keep doing so until his last breath, as his fate allows! The Belgian jazz sax player, Nicolas Kummert, plays in four different set-ups and closes the Club Stage on the last day of festival.
Jazz Middelheim will also be introducing cashless payment, thanks to ING, this year. Instead of paying using drink and food tickets, you can use a personal pass to pay for these things at all of the bars and food stands. The benefits are numerous: no more searching for cash, coins, or tokens, shorter queues, a safe and fast system, plus no hassle at the register. You can load an amount of your choosing on this card, either from home beforehand or once you get to the festival, which you can then safely and securely use to pay just by swiping it over the reader.
Now, there’s no excuse for letting your food go cold. Especially not the food made by the chefs responsible for this year’s catering. Seppe Nobels, of Graanmarkt 13 notoriety, is famous for his innovative, yet healthy recipes and has been named one of the 25 best vegetable restaurants in the world by Gault&Millau. Together with Frank Fol, who has been heading the restaurant Sire Pynnock in Leuven, this year’s festival not only promises to provide musical delights; there’s also going to be culinary climaxes focusing on delicious, season-specific, local products! In addition to the various food trucks that will be present at the festival, Frank Fol and Seppe Nobels will be opening up a pop-up restaurant at Jazz Middelheim, where these veggie chefs will pamper visitors to the fullest with fresh, healthy culinary delights! Reservations will soon be possible via the www.jazzmiddelheim.be website.
Radio station Klara will be providing live colour commentary throughout the weekend. DJs Lies Steppe, Bart Vanhoudt, and Karel Van Keymeulen will be serving up interviews with musicians and visitors, as well as reporting from behind the scenes and right in the middle of the festival site.
Tickets are on sale via the website www.jazzmiddelheim.be and in Fnac shops.
Info: www.jazzmiddelheim.be 3-6 August 2017, Park Den Brandt, Antwerp