Stéphane Galland

The drummer who revolutionised the world of jazz with Aka Moon but also leaves his own mark alongside Ibrahim Maalouf and Tigran Hamasyan.

12.05, 20.00, Cirque Royal / Koninklijk Circus
Aka Moon ‘BalkAlefBa’ - Cd release


Who is… Stéphane Galland?

The debut of Stéphane Galland (°1969) amidst his first official trio (with Eric Legnini and Jean-Louis Rassinfosse) bodes very well for his future. When he embarks on the adventure of De Kaai, the quintessential Brussels jazz lab during the nineties, he gets the opportunity to develop his full potential. Round about the same time, he forms the Nasa Na Band with Pierre Van Dormael, Fabrizio Cassol and Michel Hatzigeorgiou. Both Van Dormael’s departure from the band and a trip of the remaining trio to Central Africa among the Aka pygmy tribe, mark the beginning of Aka Moon as well as the beginning of one of the most remarkable stories on the Belgian and international (jazz) scene. The next chapter cum double album will be presented at Cirque Royal as part of Les Nuits Botanique. For the occasion, Aka Moon brings Balkan rhythms and North African trance together.
His unique style earned Galland recognition world-wide. So, for instance, he toured with the Joe Zawinul Syndicate and Zap Mama. These days, it is trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf who requires his services for a brand-new project of which the album will be issued this autumn.
In addition, Galland carries out his own projects, for instance only recently with Lobi which released its first album three years ago. A sequel to this multicultural project will be released this autumn. Soon, there will also be the debut of his duo with pianist Malcolm Braff. Aka Moon will also release new work this year with a selection of Scarlatti sonatas.
The common denominator in all of this is music at the crossroads of cultures and drum parties by Stéphane Galland who time and again graces the audience with the most original rhythmic pulses.


What is…

... your favourite spot in Brussels?

I am tempted to say, my home (laughs). That is because I am on tour very often. But when I am in Brussels, I like to hang out in the surroundings of Place Stéphanie and Sablon. And since, like any man, I need to fill up my empty stomach in due time, I would like to mention my favourite restaurant: Nuovo Rosso in Rue Bosquet. Mario, the boss, became friends with several musicians.
Food is like music. You have to learn to taste and discover it, and mainly learn to enjoy and love it. Mario cooks with passion, just like any good musician performs with conviction. How could you expect the audience to appreciate what you are doing if it is obvious you take no joy and pleasure in doing it?


… the last CD or album you bought for yourself?

For many years I have been buying mainly classical and world music. However, recently, I started to by jazz records again, be it in the broadest sense of the term. My most recent purchase is ‘Break Stuff’, the latest album by the Vijay Iyer Trio. I heard about the trio after a couple of rehearsals with young piano player Casimir Liberski. He pointed out the similarities in our approach of rhythmic structures. And, indeed, what Iyer and mainly his drummer Marcus Gilmore do, is in line with my ideas.


… your fondest memory of a recent concert?

I seldom go to concerts. When I am not on stage myself, I prefer to stay at home to somehow clear my mind or work. The last concert of which I have a fond memory, is a performance by classical pianist Grigory Sokolov at BOZAR. He played pieces by Rameau. I had tears in my eyes because of the simple perfection or should I say perfect simplicity of his playing. It was a display of pure mastery. His performance came close to nature’s perfection.
As a musician, it obviously remains difficult to listen to music with an open mind. You always tend to analyse and judge according to parameters you work with on a daily basis. The danger is that you miss out on a whole lot of nice stuff which you do not even notice. I try to keep an open mind which, believe me, is not always easy.


… your favourite quote of the moment?

One of my favourite quotes is: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” by Einstein. It suggests that there are two ways to look at life. Either everything is a miracle or on the opposite, nothing is. What is trivial to you may be extremely wonderful to someone else. An ideal vision or the absolute truth does not exist. It is better to always keep an open mind. Along the same lines, I would like to add Salvador Dali’s saying: “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it”. The search for perfection never ends. You can always go one step further.