23.06, 22.00, Sounds
Blue Monday People
Who is… Jens Bouttery?
When he was granted the Toots Thielemans Award from Brussels’ Royal Conservatory of Music in 2011 for his graduation work ‘The Dubtapes’ (a total performance at the crossroads of spoken word, film, electronics and improvisation), it would already be a safe bet that Jens Bouttery (°1988) would never put up with the stereotyped picture of the drummer. Flexibility and love of experimentation were and still are his main drivers. Here is a selection from his current activities.
His most recent and imposing initiative is ‘Triggers & Tresholds’, a scientifically sound project relating to the genesis of musicality in human beings: an auditory jigsaw puzzle which leads the listener in a quite compelling manner to the final outcome through an increasing number of hints.
In the same line of thought, his activities regularly include guest performances with theatre companies. He is currently spending three weeks in the Netherlands at the Oerol Festival with Wunderbaum and the ‘We Doen Het Wel Zelf’ show.
Alongside another young national drum prodigy, Lander Gyselinck, he forms the duo Sandy. Hearing is believing. You will indeed not see a thing because the pair performs in dark rooms, without any light whatsoever.
In addition, Bouttery also performs in “La Mélodie Philosophale”, a musical fairy tale for children written by saxophonist Toine Thys, together with keyboarder Eric Bribosia.
Not to mention, he sits behind the drums with e.g. Les Chroniques de l’Inutile, Karim Gharbi and Llop.
And then there is Blue Monday People, a quartet with vocalist François Vaiana, pianist Dorian Dumont and guitar player Benjamin Sauzerau. Their debut CD will be released later this year.
Is it always jazz? “In my eyes, it is, yes. In the different art forms I currently practise, whether it is music or theatre, I am constantly on the lookout for a form of freedom and live dynamics. Also, with Wunderbaum’s show, we try to bring an open show by way of changing structures defined by a revolving wheel including different theatre platforms.”
... your favourite spot in Brussels?
Due to circumstances, I have been living in the outskirts of town for almost a year now. Each time I come back to Brussels, it feels like coming home. I do miss Brussels very much. The place where I go to most often is Café Bravo. It is a fabulous venue, mainly due to Lionel Cataldo’s commitment. Passion and not business is what drives him. What is remarkable is that he manages to attract an increasing number of New York musicians.
It is, however, the jam sessions which currently pull in the crowds. Personally, I do not find jam sessions always equally interesting because they all too often get bogged down into a combination of standards and solos. Recently though, I hit the jackpot. It was way past midnight when I walked into the bar with the members of the band How Town. One of the female singers got on stage spontaneously, quickly followed by the two other vocalists. It was not long before there was no stopping the floodgates from opening and the jam session turned into an exhilarating party. That is what I call added value.
… the last CD or album you bought for yourself?
I will have to choose between the soundtrack of ‘Birdman’, produced by drummer Antonio Sanchez and ‘Music of Vladimir Martynov’ by the Kronos Quartet. I am not a big fan of Sanchez but I have to say I appreciate and admire what he has done for ‘Birdman’. But I will pick the Kronos Quartet after all. It is in fact a classically inspired but rather repetitive CD. They use a lot of drawn-out motives whilst changing tiny details consistently. They keep it interesting. For me, it is a pleasant breath of fresh air, away from the hustle and bustle of my different projects. The opening track alone is extremely comforting. It feels like starting a new day. It almost sounds naive but still, it is very cleverly constructed. The most impressive part is a 40-minute-long composition by the Russian composer Martynov. It is a piece he wrote following his father’s death. It is very intense and gloomy. It is a journey for which you need to be prepared. You actually feel the father dying, he is breathing more and more slowly, and the music seems to go on forever. After listening to this piece, you cannot but distance yourself from this world.
… your fondest memory of a recent concert?
After a concert by MikMâäk in Théâtre Marni, I went to Café Bravo. The French band Print was playing a gig that night. I was actually still moved by the concert I attended earlier that evening but these guys were a genuine find. Print is a quartet consisting of Stéphane Payen, Frank Vaillant, Sylvain Cathala and Jean-Philippe Morel. The band has been around for almost twenty years and you can tell right from the start. Such finesse and complete unison can only be achieved after having shared many years together and having performed a lot together. It is also reflected in the continuous rhythm changes and a rigorous playing style without ever becoming arbitrary. Another band which plays along these lines is Aka Moon: no intricate metric structures which practically border on musical masturbation but a flow of profound new ideas. Steve Lehman is another highly skilled example in that respect.
… your favourite quote of the moment?
A few days ago, I was singing along the lyrics from an Andrew Broder’s song at the top of my lungs. “And as for today, I‘ve had sneezes with much more to say, tiny little novels in every little fleck of snot”. For me, it is actually a kind of anti-quote because of its profoundly human aspect. Quotes can sometimes be dangerous. You put their authors on a pedestal by which they acquire something of a hero status. Hence my choice for this passage taken from ‘The Rabbit’. It features on the ‘10th Avenue Freakout’ CD which he released with his group, Fog. It perfectly conveys those days when – just for a moment – you do not want to be there and let the world be without having to take actively part in it.
Broder’s music evolves somewhere between pop and experimental craft work. The man is a kind of anti-hero who sings about everyday things and yet with such distinctive charm and elegance.