International Jazz Day

29 & 30/04
Apr 20 2017
On November 2011 UNESCO designated April 30 as the International Jazz Day, a tribute to jazz music and its fundamental role in uniting people across the globe, promoting peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity, and respect for human rights and human dignity.


Jazz is a music of peace, and this has never been so important, to fight against new forms of hatred, racism and discrimination, and to strengthen humanity as a single community, sharing a past and a destiny.’

 - UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova - 

Brussels is ready for its’ 6th edition of celebrating International Jazz Day!

UNESCO Brussels, (, Flagey, with the support of Monte Paschi Belgio, Stib/Mivb, and many other partners, put together a smashing line up that will jazz-up the capital of the European Union: a series of concerts, events, performances will take place between Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 April to celebrate this special day!

Belgium has a strong, flourishing tradition when it comes to jazz music, in fact several musicians and composers were born and bred Belgians. One of them was Toots Thielemans, a multi-instrumentalist whose music touched the souls of many; this great artist was born in Les Marolles district on April 29 1922, he passed last year after a brilliant career, his birthday occurs the day before the International Jazz Day one more reason to celebrate his name during these days. 

The new generation of jazz-players who won the prestigious Toots Thielemans award will perform around the city centre; we will take you on a walk through the neighborhood where Toots lived and played for many years; two jazz big bands will challenge each other in the heart of the city at Beurs/la Bourse; in the Brussels metro you will be hearing only jazz tunes. On Sunday starting from 12 p.m., the chill and vibrant Flagey area will turn into a giant, open air jazz factory filled with fanfare, free workshops and educational programs at Flagey cultural house, Maak Quintet at Place Sainte Croix, and of course, music all around you! This year edition will reach its pick at Flagey Studio 4, where Matthew Halsall & The Gondwana Orchestra featuring Dwight Trible will perform at 8:15 p.m.

If all of this has not convinced you to visit our website yet, check out our Facebook page and let yourself be amazed by the many initiatives, gigs and events that will unfold before you during the two-day event! 



all day : jazz in the metro

10:00 Remembering Toots Thielemans @ Muntpunt Grand Café

11:00 expo Toots Thielemans + vinyl market @ Jazz Station

14:00 guided city-walk : Happy Birthday, Toots (*Nl): departure @ Centraal station/ gare centrale

17:00 concert David Thomaere trio @ Muntpunt Grand Café

19:00 Letizia Onorati in concert: celebrating International Jazz Day @ Istituto Italiano di Cultura

21:00 concert Jeanfrançois Prins : Happy 95th Birthday, Toots! @ Music Village



all day : jazz in the metro


12:00  infosession:  The Life of Toots by Marc van den Hoof (*Nl): @ Jazz Station (1210 BXL)

14:00 Jazzstation Big Band vs. Swingalicious Big Band @ La Bourse / Beurs

17:00 Maurice de Clerck Quintet @ Archiduc

20:00 Thunderblender @ Roskam

20:00 Piergiorgio Pirro quartet + jam @ Bonnefooi

20:00 film Falstaff on the Moon + Toots Thielemans @ Cinematek

20:30 Johan Dupont – Music 4 a While @ La Samaritaine



12:00 : Fanfare Remork & Karkaba  @ Place Flagey

14:00 : Music Workshop by Youth Orchestra ZWAP @ Flagey

17:00 : Mâäk Quintet  @ Place Sainte Croix

20:15 : Matthew Halsall & The Gondwana Orchestra featuring Dwight Trible @ Flagey



15:00: Kearo Zenn  @ Place St Job

17:00: Super Ska @ Place St Job

19:00: Banda Bruselas @ Place St Job


More info: 




Jazz in the metro

MIVB/STIB will help us vibrate Brussels on blue notes and jazzy grooves. During the weekend of 29 and 30th of April people using the public transport will be able to enjoy a playlist of carefully selected jazz tunes. A list assembled by various partners who picked out Belgian jazz bands that played at Jazz Station and Flagey and ofcourse some original Toots Thielemans compositions!

Online: Jazz and Dance

29th of April there is also a Unesco day dedicated to dance. As a true beacon of cultural activity Brussels has a long tradition in the jazz scène, as well as the contemporary dance. Choreographers like Anne Teresa De Keersmaker or Wim Van de Keybus were inspired in various creations by jazz music. Composers and bands like Aka Moon, Mäâk, Kris Defoort have worked together with some of them or other dance-companies. In collaboration with “Dans van de Dag” we launch an open call to young creators to make a video connecting jazz with dance in a funny - or more serious - way. We’ll take over the social media on these two special days by sharing the video’s with #BXLdansjazz.



10:00 - 21:00: Toots Thielemans - Muntpunt Grand Café, Léopoldstraat 2, 1000 Brussel

On the day before the International Jazz Day, we toast to Toots Thielemans. The Brussels Jazz giant would have become 95 this year. Celebrate his birthday in style, with plenty of beautiful music, surrounded by the silent black-white testimonies of his international collaborations, and the favourite food of the master: “stoemp with sausage” and Bloody Marys.


11:00 – 19:00 expo Toots + vinyl market @ Jazz Station - Chaussée de Louvain/Leuvensesteenweg 193, 1210 BXL

To honour Toots Thielemans Jazz Station inaugurates an exposition with some of his personal artefacts. And also pictures that mark his encounters with other jazz greats. On April 26th just before the concert of David Linx and Michel Hatzigeorgiou in honor of Toots, the expo will open its doors to the public. You can stop by at Jazz Station for a visit until May 28th. Jazz Station, once a real train station, was transformed 10 years into a lively centre for jazz. Many musicians rehearse and play here on an almost daily base. You can follow ‘jazz-courses’ and today you van come and dig out some real Jazz Classics at their vinyl market. 

26/04 – 28/05 Expo Toots @ Jazz Station open Wednesday – Saturday from 11 am – 7 pm + concert evenings.


14:00 – 16:00 guided city-walk: Happy Birthday, Toots – departure at the statue of Queen Elisabeth near the Central Station (only in Dutch)

Toots Thielemans, New Yorker from Brussels, citizen of the world, born in ‘The Marollen” gets his first instrument in the Hoogstraat/ Rue Haute. For his 7th birthday he gets a mouth harmonica from a shop in the Rue du Midi and plays his blue notes in almost all the other streets of this popular neighbourhood. Jeanke (Toots) began his career on the guitar in the centre of Brussels. He records an album and then moves to America to play with the greats.  But Toots never forgets his roots. We walk past the places where once he his fellow musicians played the jazz till the early morning.  


17:00 concert David Thomaere trio @ Muntpunt Grand Café, Léopoldstraat 2, 1000 Brussel

David Thomaere won the Toots Thielemans Award in 2012. For him, performing as a trio is the perfect way to play his compositions in a simple and refined way. Influenced by the ECM label as much as the modern jazz scene (Aaron Parks, Taylor Eigsti, Shai Maestro), the trio has a personnel and original sound. They mostly play original compositions, alternated with a standard or rearranged pop tune
Line Up: David Thomaere, piano; Felix Zustrassen, el.bass; Antoine Pierre, drums


19:00 Concert Letizia Onorati: Celebrating International Jazz Day @ Istituto Italiano di Cultura

Letizia Onorati (voice), Paul Sabatino (piano), Giovanna Famulari (cello)
A musical trip which chronologically takes place between Softly as in a morning sunrise, theme from a 1928 operetta, and Black Shop, a song Di Sabatino wrote in 2009 for Mario Biondi. A handful of gems, some drawn from the repertoire of Tin Pan Alley, others from jazz, all rearranged for an intimate chamber trio with a cello.
Letizia Onorati is a singer from Lecce. Her passion for music began early, so as a child she studied at the prestigious Elizabeth Guido singing school. She continued her musical studies with important representatives of the Italian and international jazz scene such as Roberta Gamberini, Tia Architto, Barbara Errico, Rachel Gould, Mark Sherman, Bob Stoloff and many more. She perfected her singing for two years with Tiziana Ghiglioni, the lady of Italian Jazz.
Paolo Di Sabatino is a pianist, composer and arranger. He is Director of the Aquila Conservatory Jazz department. He has participated in several radio and television programs and has performed at major international festivals in Italy and the world (USA, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, Russia, etc.). Music critics praise him among the top Italian and European Jazz pianists.
Giovanna Famulari is a cellist, pianist, singer and actress. Her musical activity is rich and intense. She has collaborated with Ron, Tosca, Lenny White, Solomon Burke, Luca Barbarossa, Tnt, Mogul. She has performed as the star of the tour in Europe, but also in Argentina, Israel, Palestine, Tunisia and Algeria.


21:00 concert Jeanfrançois Prins : Happy 95th Birthday, Toots! @ Music Village Rue des Pierres 50 Steenstraat, 1000 BXL

Toots Thielemans was of course famous for being the world's greatest chromatic harmonica player. We heard him as a soloist with the greatest jazz and pop musicians from Charlie Parker to Paul Simon, from Elis Regina to Jaco Pastorius, from Quincy Jones to Edith Piaf, from Billy Joel to Joe Lovano.
Toots was a melodic genius who transcended time and style, who had a unique voice on guitar (his true love), and created a new sound by whistling along his improvised lines. 
To me Toots was my musical godfather, who took me under his wing early on in my musical career and shared so much of his beauty with me, and I am eternally grateful for that. Hundreds of times he invited me to sit in on his amazing concerts and play on his guitar, how incredibly generous of him! I remember this finale concert of the Jazz Rally, on the magical Grand’ Place in Brussels, where I was a guest soloist with his quartet (Michel Herr, Michel Hatzigeorgiou and Bruno Castellucci), along with Judy Niemack and Tom Harrell, and where over 20,000 people were crowding the market place, so that the police had to escort us to the stage, what an unforgettable feeling! I am also grateful for Toots’ adorable wife Huguette who took such wonderful loving care of him for all these years, and who welcomed me immediately as a new member of the family.”Jf Prins
Toots left us on August 22, 2016. But his music and spirit lives on! So tonight, we are going to celebrate Toots' birthday by playing some of his compositions and some of his favourite music with love and respect, but also with joy and fun, and in Toots' spirit: "between a smile and a tear".
Line up: Jeanfrançois Prins: guitar &voice; Johan Clement: piano, Christophe Devisscher : bass






30/04: 12:00 infosession:  The Life of Toots by Marc Van den Hoof (*in dutch): @ Jazz Station - Chaussée de Louvain/Leuvensesteenweg 193, 1210 BXL

On the occasion of the centenary of Jazz, The Jazz Station starts a new course: History of Jazz in Dutch. With five sessions of two hours, you will learn a fascinating history of Jazz, from the most important musicians, influences to the many different streams. The courses are given by Marc Van Den Hoof in dutch and start on International Jazz Day!
Dates : 30-04 /  13-05 / 27-05 / 10-06 / 24-06, from 12 to 2 pm. (Free entrance)


14:00 concert Jazzstation Big Band vs. Swingalicious Big Band @ Pedestrian Zone (La Bourse/ De Beurs)

For this special day, Les Lundis d'Hortense, the Jazz Station and have federated around an unprecedented encounter and offer you this Sunday a battle between the Jazz Station Big Band and the Swingalicious Big Band. The opportunity to affirm the links between these important cultural actors of jazz, but also to defend a music synonymous with freedom, sharing and adventure. From swing to modern jazz, both Big Bands bring together all the generations of the Belgian scene, as well as the history of jazz in their repertoire. A concert that promises to be explosive! Don’t forget to bring your dancing shoes!

Line up:

Jazz Station Big Band 

Stéphane Mercier, lead, saxophone; Daniel Stokart, Steven Delannoye, Vincent Brijs, saxophones; Olivier Bodson, Michel Paré, Jean-Paul Estévenart,  trumpets; Edouard Wallyn, David De Vrieze, Bart De Lausnay, trombones ; Vincent Bruyninckx, piano; François Decamps, guitare ; Piet Verbist, double bass; Toon Van Dionant, drums

Swingalicious Big Band

Rob Spelberg, lead, arrangements, trombone; Francesca Palamidess, voice; Dieter Vaganée, Tom Bourgeois, Filippo Bianchini, Duilio Ingrosso, saxophones; Alexandre Herichon, Thomas Mayade, Pierre-Antoine Savoyat, trumpets; Quinten de Craecker, Jesus Els Verbruggen, trombones; Mathieu de Wit, piano; Victor Foulon, double bass; Armando Luongo, drums


17:00 concert Maurice de Clerck Quintet @ Archiduc, Rue Antoine Dansaertstraat 6, 1000 BXL

In this legendary art-deco place and actually the oldest still operating jazz club from Brussels, a young quintet will serve you with an intimate jazz concert.  The concert is for free!

Line up: Maurice de Clerck, saxophone ; Kenzo Voets, piano; Sebastien wrincq, guitar ; Victor Defoort, bass; Constantin Thomas, drums


20:00 concert Thunderblender @ Roskam – Vlaamse Steenweg/ Rue de Flandre 9, 1000 BXL

Thunderblender is a Brussels based trio led by Sam Comerford on sax (Toots Thielemans Award 2015) together with Hendrik Lasureon piano and Jens Bouttery on drums (Toots Thielemans Award 2011). Thunderblender combines adventurous improvisation, beautiful quiet moments and heavy grooves, tied together in long-form compositions inspired by artists such as Tim Berne and Henry Threadgill. The music is never the same but always thrilling. Thunderblender will release their debut EP in March 2017, and will be touring and recording the debut album in September 2017.
Line up: Sam Comerford: sax; Hendrik Lasure, piano; Jens Boutery, drums


20:00 concert Piergiorgio Pirro quartet + free jam @ Bonnefooi Rue des Pierres 8 Steenstraat 1000 BXL

Italian pianist Piergiorgio Pirro's first Belgian project features some of the most brilliant musicians of the young Brussels jazz scene. Rooted in the classical and jazz/impro tradition, the quartet's music ranges from some experimentation with synthetic scales to more cantabile ballads.

Line-up : Piergiorgio Pirro, piano;  t.b.c.


20:00 film Falstaff on the Moon + Toots Thielemans @ Cinematek, Salle Plateau - Rue Baron Horta straat 9 1000 BXL

Toots wrote the soundtrack for Falstaff on the Moon, a short film about the last wish of a former boxer. Followed by a rare portrait of Toots by Jacques Van Koekenbeek.

Toots Thielemans, the harmonica player of the Marolles, could, almost regardless and parallel to his successful career of jazz musician, claim an international film career that is still very prestigious. He delves effectively in the credits of films of Verhoeven, Peckinpah, Berri, Yves Robert, Schlesinger, Lautner, Spielberg, the Hart ... He played scores of Quincy Jones, Philippe Sarde, John Williams and many other composers. He played (and whistled) in Belgian, French, Americans, Dutch and Swedish films. As a tribute to this celebrity CINEMATEK explores in a new program this side of his work, one who deserves to be highlighted.


02.04 > 14.05 : CLASSICS & ANTHOLOGIES TOOTS THIELEMANS @ CINEMATEK - Rue Baron Horta straat 9 1000 BXL

20:00: radio Musique 3 RTBF: broadcast of the live recording of the concert on 26/04 at Jazz Station


With The Wordsmith, a duo formed by singer David Linx and bassist Michel Hatzigeorgiou, we want to celebrate the memory of our greatest harmonicist. Friends of Toots Thielemans, David and Michel will pay homage to him through their own repertoire, and their music will be dedicated to him.
David Linx has been invited on several occasions to join Toots Thielemans on stage, in the studio or on the radio and TV sets. Conversely, David hosted the legend of harmonica and Belgian jazz in his project "James Baldwin Project". Together, they also accompanied the Holland Metropole Orchestra, the world's largest professional jazz and pop band.
Aka Moon's bold bass player, Michel Hatzigeorgiou met Toots Thielemenans in the 80's in Liège. He quickly became part of the Toots quartet with whom he traveled the world for twenty years. For him, this legendary musician had the genius of sound, like Miles Davis, Chet Baker or Jaco Pastorius, and every concert at his side was a music lesson.
On the program: pieces inspired by Toots, a composition that Michel Hatzigeorgiou dedicated to him, but also some compositions that the duo will present exclusively before the release of his next album.
Line up: David Linx, voice;  Michel Hatzigeorgiou, electric bass


20:30 concert Johan Dupont : Music 4 A While @ La Samaritaine

Music 4 A While was born in 2012. It consists of musicians coming from different musical horizons who propose a rereading of baroque and old music with a new look influenced by the aesthetics of jazz.

In the baroque period, the musicians were able to improvise and the interpreters were free to incorporate personal details into their game. This freedom gave Baroque musical works an ever-renewed reputation, as in jazz.

"Music for a while, Deceive all your torments. You will be astonished to see your pain relieved”.

Line up: Johan Dupont, piano; Muriel Bruno, voice; Martin Lauwers, violin;  Jean-François Foliez, clarinette; André Klenes, double bass.



12h: Fanfare Remork & Karkaba  @ Place Flagey

REMORK is a unique brassband that spices up any kind of urban event, festival or happening. These master musicians know very well how to entertain a crowd on any street corner with their cocktail of catchy riffs and melodies that interact with pounding percussion grooves. Their performance is a real treat for any audience, no matter what age or background. It's a generous and carnal mix of gnaoua percussion and dance. 

14h: Music Workshop by Youth Orchestra ZWAP @ Flagey

ZWAP is a unique youth orchestra. During this workshop, two leading jazz musicians let you play and improvise on the most diverse music styles in an easy and playful way together with some of the regular ZWAP-crew. You will recognize a lot of well-known rhythms and melodies, including the music by famous Belgian jazz legend Toots Thielemans. At the end of the workshop, participants are invited to show the audience what they’ve learned. Waste no time, make sure you are part of it! No prior musical knowledge required. Participants without instrument are welcome too!

17h : Mâäk Quintet  @ Place Sainte Croix

Mâäk (formerly known as Mâäk's Spirit) - one of Belgium's oldest and most active avant-gardist jazz collective which now presents on this occasion a quintet that brings original songs collected during their  travels in West Africa. Privileging sonic quality and intimacy with the audience, Mâäk chooses to play acoustically. 

The quintet presents original compositions influenced by its diverse artistic encounters. This collaboration with musicians from totally different cultures, gives the music a new dimension. Aside the improvisatory nature of jazz, you can sense African origins in their music too.

This group never slips into a routine and renews itself constantly. Everything is centered around vitality, dynamism and musical freedom but in a clearly defined framework. The music is sophisticated, fascinating, magnetic, sensual. The musicians always look for new sonic, rhythmic and harmonic possibilities, and show us that jazz can be synonymous for freedom, progress, discovery and adventure!

20h15: Matthew Halsall & The Gondwana Orchestra featuring Dwight Trible @ Flagey [21-18 €]

Manchester based trumpeter, composer, arranger and band-leader Matthew Halsall is one of the rising stars of European Jazz. His eastern-influenced sound draws on the modal jazz of Pharoah Sanders and John Coltrane alongside contemporary dance musicand his uniquely life-affirming music has been championed by the likes of Gilles Peterson and Patrick Forge. His latest project finds him working with legendary LA vocalist Dwight Trible whose deeply soulful voice has seen him compared to the likes of Leon Thomas and Andy Bey and who brings a vibrant energy to everything he sings. Expect deep spiritual jazz, funky soul-jazz classics and beautiful ballads from John Coltrane and Nina Simone to Donny Hathaway and beyond as heard on their forthcoming Gondwana Records release, Inspiration.



Jazz4you is fully involved in the promotion of young jazz musicians. The IJD is a unique opportunity to show the public that jazz, at the age of 100, is still alive and especially evolving. The project of Jazz4you is to animate, in collaboration with the municipality, the Place St Job in Uccle, a festive music and gathering. Thirty young talents will share their passion and offer you this year the accents groove and very dancing of a jazz tinted ska, salsa and funk.


15h: concert Kearo Zenn - modern groove jazz et harmonica - Place St-Job 1180 Bxl

Kenzo Nera is a chromatic harmonica player living in Brussels. It is on the benches of the French-speaking Royal Conservatory of Brussels that he meets the future members of his quartet. The compositions are influenced by artists as Snarky Puppy, Robert Glasper, but also Radiohead or Pink Floyd, or even DJ Premier or Jay Dilla.

Line up : Kenzo Nera (harmonica and compositions); Matteo Mazzu (bass); Nils Hilhorst (guitar); Victor Goldschmidt (drums)

17h: concert Super Ska - du ska, du rocksteady et du jazz - Place St-Job 1180 Bxl

Between skillful improvisations and catchy themes, the universe of the group is spontaneous, festive and funny. On stage, the conveyed enjoyment is contagious. Good-humored distributor, Great Ska departs to aid your overflowing envy to dance at the sound of an irresistibly energetic music.

19h: concert Banda Bruselas - l'ensemble Salsa du Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel - Place St-Job 1180 Bxl

Banda Bruselas is the salsa group of the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel. The group, supervised by Peter Van Marle, plays a repertoire of classic and modern salsa themes. The set of 14 musicians proposes a repertoire of the "Fania" period as well as the Cuban repertoire of very well-known groups. Banda Bruselas already played several times in Brussels Jazz marathon.