Joe Lovano with the Brussels Jazz Orchestra
The Brussels Jazz Orchestra (BJO) celebrates its twentieth birthday with a series of concerts at a variety of European festivals, for which they have employed the talents of none other than American saxophonist Joe Lovano. Together they recorded an album with arrangements by Gil Goldstein: ‘Wild Beauty’, realised in July on the Half Note label. A variety of BJO musicians have known Lovano since the 1980s, when he appeared regularly in Belgium for workshops and concerts. In recent years, the BJO has taken up its place as one of the best big bands in the world and even supplied the Oscar-winning soundtrack The Artist in 2012.
American saxophonist Joe Lovano is one of the most productive and consistent jazz musicians of recent decades. Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio and from a Sicilian-American family, his father – Big ‘T’ Lovano – was a saxophonist and passed on the jazz gene to his son. Lovano started out playing in the big bands of Woody Herman and Mel Lewis. At the side of John Scofield and of course Paul Motian and Bill Frisell, he revealed his versatile saxophone playing and began to get noticed. He has just released his 23rd CD for the famous Blue Notes Records label, called ‘Cross Culture’. It’s his third album with his band, Us Five. Lovano’s saxophone style is modern and traditional at the same time. He merges many elements of the great jazz saxophonists, doesn’t shy away from pushing boundaries and definitely has his own recognisable voice. He plays a wide range of wind instruments, including the aulochrome made by the Belgian, François Louis. The tenor saxophone remains his main instrument and, in the tradition of John Coltrane or Sony Rollins, he continues to dominate a band.
The Brussels Jazz Orchestra is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. In March the start of the festivities began with the release of the CD ’BJO’s Finest’, full of music written for and by the BJO. The band is already touring with guest musicians such as Tutu Puoane, Bert Joris, Philip Catherine, David Linx and Michel Herr.
The BJO has built up an enviable reputation in recent decades. They have made a series of very well received recordings and were ranked by leading American magazine, Downbeat, as one of the top ten big bands in the world. But the BJO isn’t a permanent orchestra. All of the members of the band carry on their own activities alongside the BJO. Half of the sixteen-member band are original members from 1993. Including the founders, saxophonist and artistic director, Frank Vaganée, trombonist Marc Godfroid and trumpet player Serge Plum.
Over the years, the BJO has developed its own distinct method. The band works with leading musicians, creates its own projects and produces music to accompany silent films and even graphic novels. Last year’s film The Artist won the Oscar for the best original film music; music that was provided by the Brussels Jazz Orchestra and the Brussels Philharmonic.
The BJO has worked with Maria Schneider, Dave Liebman, Bob Mintzer, Kenny Werner and Richard Galliano. As well as with David Linx (in 2010 they produced ‘A Different Porgy and Another Bess’) and with trumpet player and composer Bert Joris, who is more or less their in-house composer. The BJO is not just a big band; they select varied projects, such as silent films, productions like ‘Writing Billie’ (about singer Billie Holiday) or the project ‘Graphicology’, in which big band jazz and graphic novels were paired. Artist Philip Piquet – a renowned jazz lover – selected a number of existing stories and originated two more. Six composers wrote a soundtrack for these stories which were made into original videos and were projected on to the big screen as the Brussels Jazz Orchestra played the live soundtrack for the images.
The BJO is often praised for its tight teamwork, swinging sections, huge, full sound and the passion of their playing.
Video: recordings of ‘Wild Beauty’
Tickets for 12/07/2013 are available online:
All tickets are subject to a +€3,50 per ticket booking fee.