Toine Thys

After his adventures with Rackham and Take the Duck, Toine Thys (tenor and soprano saxophone, bass clarinet) opened a new chapter under his own name: the Toine Thys Trio.

Bonnefooi, 21.02
6 p.m.: Toine Thys, Matthias de Waele, Marco Bardoscia

Théâtre Marni, 27.02
9 p.m.: Toine Thys Trio - GRIZZLY (CD release)


Who is… Toine Thys?

After his adventures with Rackham and Take the Duck, Toine Thys (tenor and soprano saxophone, bass clarinet) opened a new chapter under his own name: the Toine Thys Trio, you might as well say, same same but different. Hammond virtuoso Arno Krijger is still at his side but this time around, Toine Thys called in young prodigy drummer Antoine Pierre.

The trio’s debut CD, ‘The End of Certainty’, steeped in the best jazz tradition, has first and foremost revealed three amazingly inventive musicians. Five years have passed since then. In the meantime, Antoine Pierre has replaced Joost van Schaik. This recent swap ratchets up the trio’s energy. Focus is on grooves and soul.

However, Toine Thys is also still actively engaged on numerous other fronts.

His latest band is DERvISH, in which he travels the routes of jazz, improvisation and electro-beats along with Patrick Dorcean and Dries Lahaye. Radically different is ‘La Mélodie Philosophale’, a musical fairy tale for children which he developed in the company of Jens Bouttery and Eric Bribosia, and which in the meantime has proven to be an outstanding success story, even with adults.

Meanwhile, he regularly commutes between Brussels and Paris where he also built a network. In addition, he is involved with trumpet player Laurent Blondiau in an African project: Les Ventistes du Faso. Another African connection is the one he has via the band Afrikän Protoköl led by saxophonist Guillaume Van Parys.

In the past, he occasionally travelled to the United States to perform as a special guest with the New York duo Dizzy Ventilators.

Toine Thys is also one of the few musicians who realises that humour and jazz are not necessarily opposites. Furthermore, he is very aware of the added value of a direct contact with the audience and therefore readily performs at jam sessions across the city “to keep in touch with the young generation”.

At the time, he clarified his insatiable itch for adventure during an interview with Agenda: “My motto in life is that certainty just gets you into trouble. So, for instance, I am unable to tell you what I will like or dislike in two years from now. My aim is to discover the beauty of things every day. To do so, you should always keep your eyes and ears open and let yourself be surprised.”

What is…

... your favourite place in Brussels?

I go for Bozar. That might sound odd for a jazz musician but I travel a lot and it makes you realise how important culture is and also appreciate the tremendous opportunities we get in Brussels. At Bozar, there is always something new to be discovered and generally more than you would expect. For example, I recently saw Jozef Dumoulin perform, and he is not a musician you would readily associate with the venue. The exhibitions are always extremely interesting as well. I lately visited the one devoted to French comic book author Tardi whose view on WWI is truly remarkable. Bozar makes culture in general accessible to a wide audience, which I believe is very important.

… your fondest memory of a recent concert in Brussels?

That would be Jean-Paul Estiévenart’s trio with Sam Gerstmans and Antoine Pierre in Théâtre Marni on 27 November last year. It is a nice venue to start with and obviously I have known the three musicians for quite some time. However, Jean-Paul is someone who succeeds in inspiring others. He is invariably on the lookout for new possibilities with his music. I think that there are very few Belgian musicians who spend as many hours working as he does. He is always after perfection. Each time I hear him play, it makes me want to work that much harder to improve myself. I also work a lot but the way he continually seeks out the beauty in music gives you the necessary boost and simply deserves respect. It feels good to know that a musician of his calibre lives in Brussels.

… the last CD or album you bought for yourself?

I am open to a wide range of musical genres and I also play in bands with the most diverse musical styles. That is why I would like to mention three albums I recently purchased. The first one is ‘When Planets Explode’ by Dorian Concept. It ties in with what I do with DERvISH. The members of the band (BJP’s note: bassist Dries Laheye and drummer Patrick Dorcean) and I constantly share our favourites. And this one is Patrick’s.

Another new album I bought is ‘The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier to Paint’ by Ambrose Akinmusire. He is one of the international musicians that particularly tug at my heartstrings. His approach is the perfect combination of a well-planned music-making process on the one hand and a direct vision centred on emotion on the other. You only have to listen to the CD’s opening track. Three years ago, I saw him live at the Jazz à Liège Festival and his performance was equally impressive. A true life experience for a musician!

Finally, I also bought ‘Bach: Cello Suites’ by Heinrich Schiff. That is probably the schizophrenic side of me talking. At the moment, I spend an hour each day playing Bach on my soprano saxophone. I must admit it is my favourite time of the day. I am far from being a great performer but it is the kind of music which makes me feel genuinely good.

… your favourite quote of the moment?

“On est ensemble” in the sense of “We are close, I am with you and you are with me”. It is a common expression in Burkina Faso. Together with Laurent Blondiau, I have a project over there called ‘Les Ventistes du Faso’: we teach local musicians. When you thank someone for helping you, they will not answer with “You’re welcome” or something of the kind. They will say “On est ensemble”. It is a real indication of the importance they attach to the strong bonds that hold us together. It is one of those African notions that we would do well to embrace more over here.