(c) Guy Werner
Who is…Teun Verbruggen?
With his own groups, Teun Verbruggen likes to travel the most experimental routes of jazz, rock and improvisation but also has forged close links with a wide network of artists evolving on the interdisciplinary arts scene. It is therefore hardly surprising that he was asked to take on the curatorship of the brand-new BANG! Festival.
His name is usually associated with drums, electronics, noise-pad and toys. Anyone who invites him will notice instantly that Verbruggen is a drummer who likes to wander off the beaten track. Jef Neve picked up on it promptly and asked him for his trio. Over the last couple of years, he has been fulfilling the same role in Igor Gehenot’s piano trio. It is however in a big band such as Flat Earth Society that his multi-faceted approach perfectly comes to the fore. And it gets totally out of control with his own bands such as Gowk, Othin Spake and in particular B.O.A.T., a combo featuring key actors from the New York (improvisation) scene including Trevor Dunn, Nate Wooley and Andrew D’Angelo with whom he put on a series of compelling concerts in residence during Jazz Middelheim. That he invariably releases his own albums on vinyl, is much more than a passing fad. His fascination for graphic design runs in the family. His father works in the business and his brother Dries with his design studio Unfold was rewarded with the Henry van de Velde Award 2014 for Young Talent. With graffiti artist Vincent Glowinski aka Bonom he forms Duo à l’Encre and he also performs on stage with the equally controversial writer Jeroen Olyslagers. Alongside his numerous activities as a musician, he also runs his own record label RAT Records (Rare And Treacherous).
... your favourite place in Brussels?
I love to grab a bite to eat at Friture René, close to where I live. It is not a genuine chip shop but rather a small old-fashioned restaurant set in a neighbourhood of Anderlecht where you would not necessarily expect this type of establishment. Stepping into this restaurant is like entering another era. Not only is the food very tasty indeed but also, what I enjoy most of all, is the joyful mix of Brussels locals, Moroccans and Italians. I usually combine a nice meal there with a cup of coffee and a whisky at Cobra, just around the corner from Place Saint-Géry. The bar has no fewer than a hundred and fifty different whisky bottles on offer and the owner has a story to tell about each one of them.
… your fondest memory of a recent concert?
uKanDanZ, an ethio jazz band from Lyon. The high-energy vibe demonstrated by the band is simply irresistible. And especially the way in which lead singer Asnake Guebreye sets the audience on fire. I am not a born dancer, that’s for sure but he had me strutting my stuff on the dance floor. The mix of rock, punk and ethiojazz was nothing short of mind-blowing. And alright, the atmosphere was already awesome right from the start since the concert was taking place during the Recyclart summer festival. Every Thursday evening in July, the festival features a full show and endless entertainment with numerous activities such as baking bread (Pain Publik) and even a hairdressing salon open to all (Kwaf Publik) but also, it always includes art previews under the heading “In Vitro”. The entire Brussels alternative scene gets together. Summertime in Brussels!
… the last CD or album you bought for yourself?
It would be ‘First Record’ by The Off, a vinyl record released in 1984. I purchased it especially because of its cover by Basquiat. I was lucky to purchase it for only one hundred euros, while a second or third printing, is easily worth four times the price I paid. He designed the cover in the hope of being accepted as a member of the band. At the time, he desperately wanted to be part of the New York punk scene. The other members however did not consider him good enough as a musician but were nevertheless happy with his artwork for their cover.
… your favourite quote of the moment?
With the Jef Neve Trio, we participated for a week in the TV show “De Laatste Show” of the Flemish broadcasting company. One of the guests at the time was visual artist Wim Delvoye, the man behind the Cloaca factory. He appeared to be a very charming, intelligent and most of all funny man. What I have come to appreciate in him, is the way in which he brilliantly puts things into perspective. During the show, he was shown a picture of Panamarenko in a water basin. He was wearing willies and was holding an umbrella. Next to him, one could read the following inscription: “I do not want to hang in a museum where a clown such as Wim Delvoye is hanging”. When Delvoye was asked to voice his opinion, he answered in a highly laconic and calm manner: “I consider Panamarenko a great artist. And he is right: as a clown, I suck.” It is a brilliant example of how he turns things to his own advantage in an intelligent and striking way. Don’t get me wrong, I do not make any value judgement about Panamarenko or Delvoye but the response is so very typical of the man, hence my choice.