Sdban Records Brings Together Belgium’s Best Jazz Musicians From The 1960s

Independent groove label Sdban Records have released ‘Utopic Cities: Progressive Jazz in Belgium 1968-1979’ featuring an eclectic selection of forward-thinking jazz from the Belgian underground, including the left-field fusion of Marc Moulin’s PlaceboKoen De Bruyne and Solis Lacus; the intense post-bop of Jacques Pelzer and Lou MacConnell; the cutting edge soul jazz of Philip Catherine and Open Sky Unit and the otherworldly avant-garde of Babs Robert and the Brussels Art Quintet.

Recorded in the aftermath of the revolutionary year 1968, this music is the fruit of a highly creative momentum in Belgian jazz history that produced a unique sound which distinguishes itself from its American source of inspiration by an indefinable characteristic that can be hardly better described than ‘Belgian’. The release follows Sdban’s critically acclaimed ‘Let’s Get Swinging: Modern Jazz in Belgium 1950-1970’released back in 2017.

Listen to ‘Open Sky’ by Open Sky Unit below.

Purchase on digital and vinyl here

Q&A: Have You Met… Compro Oro

kaleido (c) 2019 Athos Burez

One of the leading bands in the ever-expanding new wave of Belgian jazz, Compro Oro’s wayward and psychedelic approach to a broad range of sounds has gained them a devoted fan base since the band’s formation in 2014. Making up the band is Wim Segers – vibraphone, marimba, Bart Vervaeck – guitar, Matthias Debusschere – bass, Falk Schrauwen – percussion and Frederik Van den Berghe – drums. Bart Vervaeck and Wim Segers took some time to take part in our short Q&A to learn a bit more about them and how they work together:

How did you guys meet each other?

Wim Segers : I guess we met at the local jazz club “Hot Club De Gand”. We both used to be really in to Django Reinhardt ‘s music.  The thing is I couldn ‘t really play back then, studying mainly classical stuff, so I looked up to what Bart could do on an acoustic guitar, playing with heroes like Fapy Lafertin and Koen De Cauter. That was really something. When I asked him to join my band I knew we were gonna hit it of just by the way he said yes.

There are a few Jazz artists coming out of Belgium, what’s the music scene like there?

Wim Segers : The scene is quit rich. There’s a lot of playing and new bands seem to be getting formed every week.  It seems that in Ghent alone the number of musicians, venues and bands have quadrupled the last decade. These musicians are getting more more versatile as well. Digging deeper in the roots of traditional music and combing them to create a new sound

How do you combine all your musical interests together, what’s your production process?

Wim Segers: They were probably all ready combined! I mean we chose the musicians that were right for the job. But usually Bart and me write the music and then we jam it together, record it, pre-produce it and then go to a studio. The less we think about, the better it sounds. 

You’ve travelled around the world, where have you found your most musical inspiration?

Wim Segers : Well apart from traveling we probably found the most inspiration in our living rooms listening to records…or going to concerts off course. Why take an airplane when there is internet….Although, I must say I have been thinking about taking lessons abroad. Our percussionist for example lived in Brazil for some time and really got the hang of it .  I’ve been think about taking some percussion lessons with a balafon player, just to be able to use different techniques and rhythms (on a boring instrument like the vibraphone :). I mean i guess we will do that stuff some day

Have peak at their live perfomance at Voodoo Valley:

What your relationship like with your label, did you have a lot of freedom creatively with putting the album together?

Bart Vervaeck: I think our label became enthusiastic after hearing our plans for the upcoming 2 albums and the collaborations we were about to set up with 2 internationally acclaimed guest musicians, Joachim Cooder and Turkish legend Murat Ertel. They gave us complete freedom and were happy with the result. Additionally, they helped us establish and finalise the artwork of the album after we contacted the renowned Belgian photographer Athos Burez.

What was your mind-set going into this album, how did you want it to differ with your previous album?

Bart Vervaeck: I think we always have the same mind set going into the studio to record a new album, i.e. to broaden our musical horizon and expand musical possibilities. Right now we are experimenting with new sounds for the vibraphone making it more accessible in various situations both live and in the studio. Compro Oro has always been eager to search for unexplored exotic rhythms.

For this album we got inspired by certain Middle-Eastern music and West-African rhythms. In doing so we convinced Joachim Cooder, son of legendary Ry Cooder and a beautiful musician in his own right, to set up a collaboration. His contribution with the electric ‘array mbira’ felt like the ultimate touch, adding an enigmatic dream-like level to the music.

A special credit ought to be given to Dijf Sanders, our producer, and his self-created instruments, crazy synths and his idiosyncratic mixes that helped establish the ultimate suburban exotica.

What are you plans for the rest of year, any tour dates booked in?

Wim Segers: Sure! We’ve got some gigs lined up in Belgium and Holland during the release period and more coming up in February and March next year. No dates in the UK as yet.

Check out the teaser video features on their website:

Compro Oro teaser 1 from JazzLab on Vimeo.