Jeroen Van Herzeele

A saxophonist who is continuously looking for the delicate balance between zen, nature, composition and improvisation.

09.03, 20.30, Jazz Station:
Mâäk Quintet

13.03, 21.00, Roskam
Gratitude Trio


Who is… Jeroen Van Herzeele?

Saxophonist Jeroen Van Herzeele (°1965) followed music training both in Brussels and Antwerp. Today, he in turn teaches at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels.
The common thread running through his own work is John Coltrane.
Greetings from Mercury is the group with which he blends hip-hop, urban rhythms and jazz in his own unique way, as evidenced by their CDs ‘Continuance’ and ‘Heiwa’.

His discography also includes CDs such as ‘Da Mo’ (Jeroen Van Herzeele Quartet) and ‘Caribbean Fire Dance’ (a tribute to Joe Henderson with Peter Hertmans, Sal La Rocca and Jan de Haas).
Furthermore, he ends up in the studio with musicians/bands including Ben Sluijs (‘The Unplayables’), Wissels/Linx (‘If One More Day’), Octurn (‘Chromatic History’, ‘Round’) and The Chris Joris Experience (‘Live’).
With drummer Giovanni Barcella, he regularly works for theatre productions in which he then performs live.
Since the early days of the group, he has been one of the founding pillars of Mâäk and of various side projects (MikMâäk, Kojo, MW’Soul...).
During Jazz Middelheim 2015, he is given carte blanche for an evening programme where he hits the stage with no fewer than 4 different line-ups.
He is currently focussing on his own Gratitude Trio with bassist Alfred Vilayleck and drummer Louis Favre. The second CD ‘Alive’ (2015) took pride of place in the best-of-the-year lists.


What is…

... your favourite spot in Brussels?

I am not very keen on getting out of the house. When I am not performing on stage, I prefer to stay at home and study, compose or try out new ideas in my own studio. And if I do go out, I like to go for a walk in Parc Duden, a stone’s throw away from where I live. Not only does it rest my mind, it also inspires me.


… the last CD or album you bought for yourself?

To be honest, I haven’t purchased anything for quite some time now but in the meantime, I’ve made a list with at the top the latest CD by Bo Van der Werf. It should be released very soon but Bo already let me listen to some recordings. Together with Dré Pallemaerts, Fabian Fiorini and Jozef Dumoulin, he travelled to Tibet to record the Gyuto monks chanting. The combination of the quartet with the diphonic singing is really impressive.
I consider the human voice an instrument that produces a unique musical colour. Musicians such as Archie Shepp or Lester Young have shown how to make best use of it. And of course, also Wayne Shorter with Joni Mitchell. You have to be a great artist to be able to play just under the vocal tone for maximum effect.
Second on my list is the soundtrack of The Revenant with music composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alav Noto, two musicians I admire enormously.


… your fondest memory of a recent concert?

As I said, I don’t really like to go out and about, not even for concerts. However, I have a fond memory of Wayne Shorter Quartet’s concert at De Roma a few years ago. The way they started from scratch and delivered a strong, coherent set by first searching the unknown, was pure class.
With Gratitude Trio, we sometimes do the same as can be heard on our CDs. I begin counting down and then, we start to fully improvise for a few minutes.


… your fondest memory of a recent concert?

I like to quote Buddhist master Bodhidharma. “Thinking of nothing is zen. Once you realize it, walking, sitting, lying down, everything you do, is zen.” Sometimes it feels good to do nothing at all and even think of nothing. It is something you have to learn. Those who can, see things in a different way afterwards. Not everyone needs it probably, but I know I do. Along the same lines, I happened to read an interview with Johan Braeckman in the newspaper today where he says that the most important thing is to be master of your time. Nowadays, a lot of people work too much. The art is to find the balance between your activities and nature.